Turf diseases getting pesky in turf

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.    

Dollar spot and red thread are two diseases that have been appearing in turf in the last few weeks. For lawn height turf, these diseases are generally considered to cause cosmetic damage and will usually not create enough damage that would require any fungicide applications.

Red thread is a pesky disease that we have been receiving reports on from home owners.

Red thread, if a problem, is usually found in under fertilized or slightly starved turf. With the relatively good growing weather that we’ve experienced throughout much the year, many of the fertilizer applications that were applied earlier in the season have probably run out and now the turf could probably use another fertilizer application. Red thread is often found in areas dominated by fine fescues or perennial ryegrass. Red thread is easily identified by the pinkish-red mycelium that is threadlike and surrounds the leaf blade. In some extreme cases it might remind you of miniature balls of pink cotton candy. The areas infected by red thread will die and the turf may appear wilted. The simplest fix for red thread is to apply a quick release nitrogen carrier such as urea at about 0.5 lb. N/1000 ft.2 to encourage turf growth to mask the symptoms.

Dollar spot is also a disease that occurs on turfgrass that might be under fertilized. This is especially true on home lawn situations, and just like red thread a light fertilizer application will help the turf recover from the symptoms.

I’ve also spotted some brown patch in tall fescue lawns. Brown patch becomes problematic when the weather starts to feel really uncomfortable – think hot and sticky. Brown patch occurs in turf as circular patches that can be a few inches in diameter to several feet. In closely cut turf, such as on golf course fairways or greens, often the circles are very distinct and a smoke ring appears on the outer edge of the diseased ring. In lawn height turf the individual leaf blades may initially appear water soaked and dark with their eventual fate to be turning a darkish brown color. Whereas red thread and dollar spot are considered diseases of under fertilized turf, brown patch is often associated with well fertilized, lush turfgrass growth. The cool temperatures should put the freeze on brown patch for now and will help stimulate turfgrass growth to grow over the damage created by all of these diseases.

Related article: Clarification on dollar spot in home lawns

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