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Controlling brown patch

The unseasonably cool weather and abundant rains in April and May provided perfect growing conditions for fescue. Brown patch is a common turf disease caused by a soil borne fungus Rhizoctonia solani. Early symptoms are small circular brown patches of turf a foot in diameter. Small patches often melt together and may engulf entire areas of a lawn. Turf fertilized with high rates of nitrogen in late spring or early summer makes lush fescue very susceptible to the disease.

Turf and ornamental fungicides are necessary to control the fungus and should be applied on a regular basis during the summer months. There are some user-friendly granular fungicides available that may help, however, in some instances it may be more cost effective to hire licensed landscape contractors apply these materials. It’s important to apply these treatments as soon as possible before the foliar disease occurs if your lawns have a history of this disease.

According to plant pathologists at N.C. State University, the most important step of controlling brown patch is infrequent irrigation and regular mowing when the grass is dry. Avoid irrigation in the late evening or at night. It’s best for early morning irrigation to prevent the spread of brown patch. Lawns with a history of brown patch disease will most likely experience annual reoccurrences. Go to https://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/diseases-in-turf/brown-patch-in-turf/ for more detailed information on brown patch control.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu .

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