Landscape Alerts & Updates

The Landscape Alert is an email newsletter sent to the Georgia landscape and turf industry providing UGA information regarding industry issues.

These issues include emerging pests, regulatory changes, upcoming training, and new information, or technologies for the industry. Coordinated by the Center, the newsletter is a collaboration of several UGA departments – Horticulture, Entomology, Plant Pathology, Crop and Soil Science, and the Warnell School of Forestry.

Readers use the information contained in the Alerts for staff training, remaining current on upcoming issues, scouting for and identifying pests, evaluating current pest control practices and improving workplace safety. Alerts help maintain communications between state and county Extension staff, researchers, the industry, and industry associations. Alerts also serve as an educational tool for County Extension Agents.

Landscape Alerts are currently sent to more than 1700 readers and feedback has been very good. In a recent survey, of those responding, 93% stated they learned something they plan to use.

For more information email ghuber@uga.edu.


 

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Landscape Alerts & Updates | February 2019

Diseases and Problems to Watch for in Winter and Early Spring

Guest Post by Alfredo Martinez

 

Microdochium Patch in Golf Courses.  When night temps dip below 50°F, Microdochium Patch (Fusarium Patch, pink snow mold) can be severe on new bentgrass and semi-dormant bermudagrass greens, and on greens overseeeded with Poa trivialis.  Patches begin as small reddish-brown spots that can grow and coalesce into large blighted areas.  White to pink mycelium (sometimes mistaken for Pythium or dollar spot) may appear during extended periods of rain and overcast weather.  Cultural controls are the same as those listed above for Yellow Patch.  Effective fungicides include products that contain azoxystrobin, fluoxastrobin, iprodione, metconazole, propiconazole, pyraclostrobin, thiophanate-methyl, triadimefon, trifloxystrobin, triticonazole or vinclozolin.

 

Slime Mold/Sooty Mold;Blackening observed in fully dormant zoysia and or bermudagrass after few rain events? We have received samples exhibiting olive green, gray to black molding affecting dormant tissue This condition is known as slime mold and /or “sooty mold” in other crops. The growth is superficial in nature. While the symptoms are worrisome, the condition does not affect turf further. Sooty mold is the result of secondary, saprophytic fungi and not considered a true disease. Sooty mold develops on dormant, senescing and/or damaged turf when prolonged wet, humid weather occurs. This symptomatology is probably going to go away as sunny, breeze weather resumes. This blackening should mow off rather quickly.

 

Yellow Patch (Rhizoctonia cerealis).Sporadic infections of R. cerealis(yellow patch) have been observed in ryegrass over-seeded bermudagrass turf swards and sport fields. The disease is rare in the state, but it thrives in extended periods of wet, cloudy weather. It is a cool-temperature disease (50 to 65°F). Disease development is significantly suppressed at temperatures lower than 45°F and greater than 75°F. Avoid excessive nitrogen fertilization in the fall or when the disease is present. Thatch management is essential for disease control. Maintain thatch at less than 0.5 inch. There are several fungicides that can be used to control the disease, however in the state, yellow patch usually does not warrant a fungicide application.

 

Dollar Spot Can Start Early:  The dollar spot fungus (Sclerotinia homoeocarpanow named Clarireediasp) can produce infections on warm season grass as soon as they start to green up. Additionally, dollar spot can continue to infect cool season grasses anytime temps are above 50°F but it is fully active between 60°F and 70°F.  Due to low temperatures, recovery of turf from dollar spot symptoms in late winter or early spring may take weeks rather than days.  Therefore, preventive control of dollar spot is important at this time of the year. Monitoring fertility is an important first step to controlling dollar spot. Excessive moisture on turfgrass foliage will promote dollar spot epidemics. Excessive thatch layers and compacted soil stresses the plants and slows turfgrass growth and recovery from disease.

Chemical control for practitioners: A variety of fungicides are available to professional turfgrass managers for dollar spot control including fungicides containing benzimidazoles, demethylation inhibitors (DMI), carboximides, dicarboximides, dithiocarbamates, nitriles and dinitro-aniline. Several biological fungicides are now labeled for dollar spot control. For a complete and updated list of fungicides available for dollar spot, visit http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.cfm?number=SB28


Alfredo Martinez is a University of Georgia Professor and Extension Plant Pathologist in the areas of turfgrass, small grains, and non-legume forages at the Griffin campus.

 

 

Tiny Topics – Garden Tools

For our next post on “tiny topics” I want to visit the topic of garden tools. It is easy to take our tools for granted. I have visited gardens where trowels and shovels are just left in the elements. They rust, become lost in garden debris, and blades become dull. Take some time during this slow garden season to evaluate, repair and clean your tools. Stocking the Garden Shed is a wonderful publication if you need guidance on adding to your tool shed.

Tool shed at Woodstock Community Garden. Tool sheds are a great addition to the community garden.

It may be surprising to discover that how you use your garden tools can have an impact on disease management in the garden:

#1 Making improper pruning cuts or using a dull blade can damage plants and open up pathways for disease-causing organisms to enter your plant. Be diligent in your pruning skills and do not damage your plant. I have seen old pruners actually rip the bark off of a fruit tree because the cut wasn’t crisp. Keep those blades sharp.

#2 Using a tool on a diseased plant and then using that tool on another plant can spread disease, even if that tool is left for several days between uses. Bacteria, viruses, and fungal pathogens are easily moved and in part that count on that for survival. Fungal pathogens can produce structures called survival spores which can be viable for a long period of time. If you make a cut with pruners on a diseased plant or use a shovel to clean up diseased plant debris you could be unknowing transporting some of these spores to a clean, disease free plant.

It is worthwhile to disinfect your tools. Using a cleaning solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water is a recommended ratio for proper disinfection. You will find that getting into the routine of proper tool cleaning will be another piece of the puzzle in your integrated pest management system.

Happy Gardening!

Brown Patch and Pythium Blight

Brown patch (caused by Rhizoctonia solani) and Pythium blight (caused by Pythium spp).

These diseases are often the most severe diseases for cool-season grasses, especially on tall fescue and ryegrass.

Pythium blight has the potential to cause significant damage to turfgrass quickly. The disease starts as small spots, which initially appear dark and water-soaked. Affected turfgrass dies rapidly, collapses, and seems oily and matted. White, cottony mycelia may be evident early in the morning.  The disease is driven by hot-wet weather, which correlates with increased stress on the turf. Similar environmental and cultural factors that encourage brown patch also promote Pythium. Therefore, cultural practices for control of brown patch will also help to minimize Pythium blight development. A correct diagnosis is essential because Pythium control requires specific fungicides.

Several fungicides are available for each of the diseases described above. Consult the Georgia Pest Management Handbook or the Turfgrass Pest Control Recommendations for Professionals (www.georgiaturf.com) for proper fungicide selection and usage. Read the label and follow proper guidelines.


Pythium blight on tall fescue (Photo Lee Burpee)

Brown patch can cause a foliar blight, which results in necrotic leaves and circular brown patches up to 4-5 ft in diameter. High soil and leaf canopy humidity, and high temperatures increase disease severity. Higher than recommended rates of nitrogen in the spring promotes disease. Management options include: avoid nitrogen application when the disease is active, avoid infrequent irrigation and allow the foliage to dry, mow when grass is dry, ensure proper soil pH, thatch reduction, and improve soil drainage.


Brown patch on tall fescue (Photos Alfredo Martinez)

For more information on Brown patch and Pythium visit http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=B1233

 

Gray Leaf Spot

By Alfredo Martinez

Gray Leaf Spot


Figure 1 (left) and 2 (right). Gray leaf spot on St. Augustinegrass (images by Alfredo Martinez)

Gray leaf spot (Figure 2) is a fungal disease that affects St. Augustinegrass, perennial ryegrass and tall fescue in Georgia. The disease is particularly aggressive in St Augustinegrass. Hot, humid summer weather and high nitrogen levels can make turf susceptible to this disease. The fungus causing the disease is Pyricularia grisea.

Symptoms: The symptoms of gray leaf spot vary depending on the grass cultivar. On St. Augustinegrass, gray leaf spot first appears as small, brown spots on the leaves and stems. The spots quickly enlarge to approximately ¼ inch in length and become bluish-gray and oval or elongated in shape. The mature lesions are tan to gray and have depressed centers with irregular margins that are purple to brown. A yellow border on the lesions can also occur. In cool-season turfgrass, the symptoms are similar to those of melting out.

Conditions Favoring Disease: Gray leaf spot is favored by daytime temperatures between 80ºF to 90ºF and night temperatures above 65ºF. It is also found in areas with high nitrogen levels and that are stressed by various factors, including drought and soil compaction. This disease is most severe during extended hot, rainy and humid periods.

Disease Management Tips: Management practices that minimize stress and avoid rapid flushes of lush growth during the rainy season lessen the likelihood that severe gray leaf spot symptoms will develop. If irrigation is used to supplement inadequate rainfall, water infrequently but deeply.

Proper irrigation regimens should protect against symptoms of drought stress without increasing disease pressure by extending periods of leaf wetness. Excessive soil moisture and leaf wetness promote gray leaf spot. Irrigating in the late afternoon or evening should be avoided, as this prolongs periods of leaf wetness.

Proper mowing practices are most important for gray leaf spot management in St. Augustinegrass. This grass must frequently be mowed during the summer months to remove excess leaf tissue and keep the canopy open and dry. Mow the turf at the correct height for the designated turfgrass species and remove only one-third of the leaf blade per mowing. Collecting clippings reduces the spread of the disease when gray leaf spot symptoms are evident. Thatch layers should be removed if they are greater than 1 inch in depth.

St. Augustinegrass is especially sensitive to some herbicides. If possible, manage weeds using cultural management techniques and minimal amounts of herbicides. The timing of any atrazine application should be chosen carefully, as this herbicide can stress the grass, especially when temperatures may climb above 85 degrees F. Atrazine applications made before or during disease-favorable conditions increase the likelihood of severe gray leaf spot symptom development. Spot-treating trouble areas with the herbicide may also be considered. Herbicides should always be applied according to the label instruction

Fungicides are available to control the disease. Consult the current Georgia Pest Management Handbookwww.ent.uga.edu/pmh/.

A New Exotic Tick is Headed to Georgia

by Nancy C. Hinkle, Ph.D.
Dept. of Entomology, Univ. of Georgia, Athens

Anyone who has lived in Georgia probably has experienced ticks, either on themselves or on their pets. The most common of the state’s 22 native tick species is the lone star tick. The American dog tick is the next most frequently encountered tick; even though it is called a dog tick, it can be found on mid-sized wildlife of all types – coyotes, foxes, raccoons, opossums, etc. Gulf Coast ticks seem to be increasing in prevalence and expanding their range. Deer ticks are not very common (the ticks typically found on deer are lone star ticks).

But there is a chance that we’ll be getting a new type of tick – as if we needed it. Last year a tick species that had never been found in North America showed up on a farm in New Jersey. Despite control efforts and a harsh winter, it successfully overwintered and in 2018 has already been found in Virginia, West Virginia, Arkansas, and North Carolina. Its mode of distribution is unknown, but this rapid spread bodes poorly for containment.

Originally from northeast Asia, this tick showed up in Australia and New Zealand over 100 years ago, where it has established and become a significant problem on cattle and sheep. Known as the “Longhorned Tick” (scientific name Haemaphysalis longicornis), it is capable of transmitting several disease organisms infecting livestock and humans.

Why is this tick of particular concern?

  1. It is not native to North America. That means there are no natural controls here to keep it in check – no predators or parasites to suppress its numbers. Also, our animals have not developed any natural resistance to it, so it is anticipated to thrive on both wildlife and livestock.
  2. Males are extraneous. This tick is parthenogenetic, meaning females reproduce without mating, so males are unnecessary. Of course, this means that a single female transmitted into a new area can start a new population, indicating that infestations can readily spread. And each female produces over 2,000 eggs, so populations can rapidly explode.
  3. Longhorned Ticks do well on a variety of hosts, wildlife as well as livestock. They should thrive on white-tailed deer and quickly spread to livestock. They readily feed on small ruminants, horses, dogs, cats, humans, and several common wildlife species.
  4. This tick is tolerant of a wide range of environmental conditions, but will flourish in the Southeast, which has climate similar to its native range. As has been shown, it successfully overwinters in New Jersey, Virginia and West Virginia, so may well be active year-round in Georgia.
  5. The Longhorned Tick is capable of transmitting several animal and human pathogens. Large numbers of ticks feeding on an animal can produce anemia, particularly in young animals.

Unfortunately this invader looks like many of our native ticks, small and brown before it feeds, then swollen and gray after it takes a blood meal. So what should Georgians be looking for to alert them to the Longhorned Tick? High numbers of ticks per animal. Because each tick can produce over 2,000 eggs, tick populations expand rapidly and frequently exceed hundreds per animal. If you find an animal with lots of ticks on it, pull off at least a dozen, put them in a small bottle with alcohol, and take them to your county Extension office. Tell them to send them to Dr. Hinkle in Athens and we will identify them for you (be sure to include your contact information). Then treat the animals to kill the remaining ticks (consult the Georgia Pest Management Handbook for recommendations on tick control).

We may not see Longhorned Ticks in Georgia any time soon, but we do not want to miss them if they do show up.

Landscape Alerts share info from UGA Extension on issues of interest to the commercial landscape industry.

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