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Got Creeping Bentgrass Problems?

July 14, 2014
by Lee Butler

Summer patch symptoms on creeping bentgrass
Summer patch symptoms on creeping bentgrass
Pythium root rot on grass; the path of the root rot follows a drainage route
Pythium root rot following drainage route

Imagine this. Rain followed by heat stress = creeping bentgrass problems. Just last week we diagnosed our first cases of summer patch and Pythium root rot on creeping bentgrass putting greens for 2014 in North Carolina. So without further delay, here’s the info you need.

The symptoms of summer patch on creeping bentgrass appear as circular patches or rings, ranging from a few inches to a foot in diameter. They often have the classic “frog-eye” symptom. Turf within these patches initially turns off-colored, is prone to wilt, grows poorly, and may appear sunken in the turf stand. Over a period of a few weeks, the turf continues to decline, turns yellow or straw brown and eventually collapses to the soil surface. The outer edges of the patch are usually orange or bronze when the disease is actively developing. The patches recur in the same spot annually, and can expand at a rate of 2 to 4 inches per year.

The summer patch fungus attacks the roots, stolons, and rhizomes in the spring when soil temperatures reach 65°F. Summer patch symptoms are rarely seen during the early stages of disease development, instead, the symptoms appear in mid-summer after considerable damage has been done to the root system. Heat, drought stress, and nutrient deficiencies are the main factors that encourage the expression of summer patch symptoms. In North Carolina, the symptoms typically appear in early to mid-July. For more information: Summer Patch control recommendations.

Just like last year, we have found Pythium root rot to be active in the upper thatch layer around roots closest to the plant. With that being said, if you are treating for Pythium root rot, don’t water those fungicides in TOO much. I encourage you to probe several healthy and weak areas to come up with an average thatch and root depth to determine where YOUR target area is, which may or may not be the same as your buddy across the street. Also, even though PRR tends to show up more often in low lying/wet areas, it can develop in higher/drier areas as well under the right conditions.

We typically recommend about an 1/8 – 1/4″ post-application irrigation for both summer patch and PRR, which in most cases equals about 3-5 minutes with part-circle heads. Either way, you may want to take the time to see how long it takes to put that amount out. This is a critical step towards maximizing your fungicide application.

For more information: Pythium Root Rot control recommendations.