10810 Southern Loop Blvd. Pineville, NC 28134
Mon-Sat: 08:00AM - 6:00PM
06 Aug 2019

Disease Update

The summer of 2019 has seen an explosion in disease activity on area lawns. The high temps and high humidity along with heavy downpours have created the perfect environment for lawn fungus development.

The worst hit grasses this summer are the hybrid Bermudas. First seen in 2017,  a lawn disease called Bipolaris is doing extensive damage to area residential lawns and golf courses. It was not until we sent samples to NC State that we got a definitive identification. The initial infection looks a lot like Dollar Spot fungus with small brown circles. Examination under magnification does not show the hour glass shaped lesion on the leaf associated with Dollar Spot, but shows tan leaf spot lesions very similar to Helmenthasporium on Blue Grass. The initial browning occurs after mowing. It is especially bad when the grass is long and cut down short. Based on our research, there are contributing factors. The lawns infected the worst have low PH (acidic soil). Lawns with a PH of 6.0 or lower are the hardest hit. Lawns with a thatch layer greater than 1/2″ will see extensive damage as the fungal spores reside, over-winter and reproduce in the thatch layer. The third common denominator is low available Potassium in the soil. The shorter mown Bermudas (1″) resist the disease better because the surface soil can dry out quicker.

NC State, Clemson and Georgia Have given recommendations on fungicide treatment for this disease. We have tried every combination of the recommended products over the last two summers, We are getting acceptable results with a systemic/contact combo treatment. Once applied the spread of the disease stops and allows the damaged turf to fill in. It takes two treatments 21 days apart for efficacy. The results are not great and the treatments are very expensive. Over fertilizing with quick release Nitrogen to stimulate growth is the worst thing you can do for this disease. Controlled release, organic based fertilizer high in Potassium is what is required.

We recommend an aggressive lime treatment plan to get the soil PH up quickly. Aerate the Bermuda twice per year if you can and address the thatch layer with verti-cutting. Years ago (many) it was legal to burn off your Bermuda lawn in the spring. It eliminated thatch, disease spores and added carbon to the soil. Please cut the lawn at the proper frequency and height. If you have the lawn cut every other week versus weekly your lawn will be infected under current weather conditions. Once this pathogen infects a Bermuda lawn, we will fight it basically forever.

19 Jun 2018

June Agronomic Update

WINTER INJURY UPDATE

Now that warm season turf (Bermuda/Zoysia) are fully out of dormancy, please refer back to my January update. The harsh winter conditions I described in January did have a major impact on lawns. We are seeing a host of issues. Winter kill on the fine leafed Zoysia varieties was widespread. There are large areas of dead turf. This damage is permanent. Bermuda turf was affected with winter injury but the damage was not as extensive. Elevated areas and low spots were hit the hardest. We are also seeing extensive spring dead spot in many Bermuda lawns. Recommended actions for remediation would be a double pass aeration with Lime, heavy fertility and fall fungicides. Damaged areas in Zoysia will need to be re-sodded.

FUNGUS AMONG US

Early May brought us hot, dry weather conditions. Later in May and into early June we saw warm, humid weather with near daily rainfall. My rain gauge recorded 5.6″ of rain in a 12 day span. These conditions set up a perfect environment for fungus activity on Fescue and Bermuda lawns. Brown patch fungus on Fescue turf started in earnest around May 21st and has continued into the 3rd week of June. It is very early in the season to see this much brown patch. We strongly recommend a fungicide program to stop the spread and help with recovery. The best fungicides only give us 30 days of control, so multiple treatments may be needed. Constantly wet soil is the number one ingredient for this fungus. Please limit watering to 2 days per week to allow the surface soil to dry out in between watering.. Daily watering of fescue is an invitation for fungus and shallow roots. Turn off the irrigation when we have rain. Mowing at the highest setting on the mower will really help with controlling permanent damage.

The weather conditions have also created a great environment for dollar spot fungus on Bermuda lawns. There are fungicides that can help with this disease, but the best remedy is proper mowing. Lawns with heavy thatch contract this disease easily. Regular core aeration can help with reducing thatch.

Please refer to our sections on diseases, watering and mowing on the main website and as always please give us a call if you need any more information.

 

 

 

14 Dec 2017

2017 Agronomic Review

In general terms 2017 weather was cooler and a little wetter than normal. Although the area realized a couple inch surplus for the year, rainfall during Apr-Aug was excessive. During that 5 month window we saw 7.5″ more than average (44%) and 13.5″ more than 2016. Spring night time low temps were way below normal and summer highs were also below normal. Very few prolonged periods of 90’s.

Both Fescue and Bermuda lawns were hit extremely hard with disease issues. The excessive rainfall beginning in April sparked Brown Patch Fungus on the Fescues and Dollar Spot Fungus on Bermuda. These diseases were active through September. Typically we see Fescue turf damaged from high heat and drought. There was more permanent damage from disease in 2017 than drought. The cool nights in May /June coupled with the rainfall caused widespread damage to Bermuda. We haven’t seen Dollar Spot issues like this since 2002. The most important factor with disease management is mowing practices. Proper height of cut and frequency of cut will reduce the likelihood of major damage.(Please review past articles on proper mowing.)

We highly recommend a preventative fungicide program for Fescue Turf for 2018. Preventatives are less expensive and more effective than a curative approach. For those with Bermuda, we do not anticipate a repeat of 2017 with the Dollar Spot and do not recommend a preventative fungicide program for 2018 unless your technicians have advised it based on severity last year.

30 Aug 2017

Preparing a fescue lawn for Aeration and Seeding

Proper Preparation Pays

We recommend cutting the lawn shorter than normal before aeration and seeding. Take it down to 2-2 1/2 inches. This is the only time we will ask you to cut this short. By cutting short, you can skip a mowing or two. We like to see no traffic on the lawn for 14 days to allow the seed a chance to germinate before you cut again. Cutting it shorter also allows the seed to get down to the soil and more sunlight on the seed.

If you started lawn service later in the season and have an abundance of annual weeds like crabgrass, lespedeza and spurge, take your mower down to the lowest setting. “Scalping” and bagging the clippings in this type of situation is the only way to insure good germination.

The most important aspect of your preparation is watering before the service is performed. The deeper the core pulled the better. We want to encourage the deepest root system possible. Even the best equipment and operators can not extract a deep (2-3 inches) core in dry soil. It is very important to have an adequate base soil moisture before the seed is applied. You will never be able to keep the new seed moist on a daily basis without starting with wet soil. Frequent, light watering is required for good germination. Without that base to start, all of your water will be sucked down into the dry soil and the seed will dry out. We ask you to please mark irrigation heads before we arrive. Aeration and Seeding is a big investment in your lawn so get the best results with proper preparation. If you have any questions, please call us.