2021 Agronomic Review
The biggest impacts to the health and appearance of your lawn are the weather, what we do and what you do.
The weather in 2021 was very similar to 2020 with a cool/wet spring and a warm dry fall. Humidity levels which are a good indicator of lawn fungus activity were quite high May-July in 2021. Seeding results were adversely affected by lack of rain September-November.
Brown patch fungus was a big issue the entire spring and summer. We observed moderate to heavy damage to Fescue lawns. There are fungicides available that show excellent control of brown patch. The key is prevention. Tall fescue is a cool season turf type and weakens during hotter temperatures. Add high humidity and your lawn is susceptible to the fungus. If you have had problems in the past, please consider our preventative program. I’ve seen many folks cutting their fescue lawns too short. You can minimize fungus activity and prevent early browning by cutting at 3 1/2 inches plus or the highest setting on the mower. This kind of grass can’t tolerate low mowing.
Watering based on where you live can be very expensive. Base your watering on weekly rainfall. Please don’t over water. Fescue requires 1″ of water per week in 85-degree weather which would mean 3X per week for about 30 minutes in each area. Once we pass 85 try to water once per week just to keep it alive. At high very high temperatures, the limited root system on Tall Fescue can’t take up water as fast as the plant is losing it.
A fungus we first observed in 2018 (Bipolaris) is quickly becoming a problem on hybrid Bermuda turf in our neck of the woods. It is a very aggressive leaf spot fungus spreading by airborne and waterborne spores. We suspect it was introduced from sod brought into the area as it is being sourced much further south than ever before. There are very few options at this time in terms of effective fungicide products. Mowing is the key to keeping this pathogen under control. Hybrid Bermuda should be cut no higher than 1 1/2″. Letting it grow tall provides perfect conditions for infection. In our area, you need to cut this type of grass at least weekly. You are asking for major health and appearance issues cutting every other week or less. Bermuda does require watering during hot (90) and dry spells. 1/2″ is sufficient per week during the 90’s. Twice per week for 35 minutes, in the absence of rainfall is recommended.
We are adding a new product to the winter and early spring treatment for Bermuda lawns. This Harrell’s product is a phosphorous and potassium-based fungicide, labelled for leaf spot control on turf. Bipolaris fungus over-winters in the thatch layer and we a looking to see if it will help next year.