Game on! Tips to keep cool-season turfgrass disease in check this season

It’s go-time for lawn and landscape managers as spring signals the start of active growing season for cool-season turf. To ensure hearty turf conditions that hold disease pathogens short of the goal line, managers need to organize a well-rounded game plan.

The first step is to understand the players. Disease pathogens require a vulnerable plant host and assisting environmental conditions to mount an attack. A disciplined defense – that keeps these three vital players from coming together – is the best way for defeating disease pressure across the season.

Fielding a Strong Defense: Seven Practices to Strengthen Your Lawn Environment

Be disciplined in these lawn care management practices to ensure your conditions favor healthy turf and resist the spread of disease. Maximizing all cultural advantages to allow exceptional turfgrass growth is key to maintaining a healthy disease-free lawn.

1. Plan ahead. Targeted preventive fungicide applications based upon experience at the site coupled with scouting and closely following the weather conditions make for a strong foundation of a disease-free lawn. A well timed preventive fungicide application for diseases such as Fairy Ring and Summer Patch will lessen or eliminate problems when the pathogen has yet to damage the turf or is in an early and vulnerable stage.

2. Proper mowing. Maintain sharp mower blades to reduce plant damage and mow regularly to attain the proper height for your turfgrass type. Reduce no more than one-third of the grass height in a single cutting. Mowing too short disrupts nutrients and weakens plants; meanwhile, leaving grass too tall inhibits sunlight and provides an excellent environment for fungal diseases to thrive.

3. Wise watering. Poor irrigation practices, whether over- or under-watering, invite disease activity. Irrigation should be performed as-needed. Be vigilant in addressing overly wet or dry areas, which strongly weaken turf and assist disease.

4. Focused fertilization. Naturally, nutrient-depleted turfgrass is more prone to disease. Over-fertilization can run the same risk, raising the plant’s susceptibility to various diseases. Soil test to gauge nutrient needs and apply “slow release” fertilizer in the spring, generally leaning toward lower application rates, based on the soil sample results for each site.

5. Canopy health. Compacted soil limits root growth, leaving turf susceptible to disease. Cultivation with coring or aeration reduces compaction, best done when grass is in high growth, before temperatures reach stress level. Promptly reintegrate core segments using drag equipment. De-thatch to further support root health.

6. Strategic seeding. Cool-season grasses are often prone to summer disease. Select a turfgrass type well suited to your conditions and consider seeding or introducing a new variety in the site that demonstrates a higher level of disease resistance while also producing more consistent desirable qualities such as density, uniformity and color.

7. Accurate identification. Frequently inspect your turf for early signs of disease. Once present, the most important factor is the identification of the causal pathogen. Don’t hesitate to consult reference materials, ask an expert, or send a sample for testing. Once identified on site, act quickly to apply an effective curative fungicide treatment according to label directions.

Fungicides Can Help You Stay on the Winning Side

When necessary, fungicide treatment with products such as Nufarm Tourney® or 3336® F provide preventive and curative performance to combat a wide range of challenging turfgrass diseases. Always read and follow label directions.

Tourney® Fungicide is one of the most active fungicides on the market, controlling many difficult to control lawn diseases for up to 28 days while improving turf quality.

3336® F is a broad-spectrum fungicide with a systemic mode of action that is particularly effective on a wide range of diseases.