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.