We’ve all heard the oft-quoted phrase, stating that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, not to argue with Mr. Einstein, but when it comes to growing turf, we can do the same things year after year, and never see the same results twice. Clearly, the variable is the weather, and it seems to have thrown us a curve ball once again.
If you notice brown areas of turf on some tees and fairways, you’re most likely seeing the record amount of Take-All Patch we’re dealing with. Each and every year, we have seen some of this disease, however never to this extent.
As with most turf diseases, Take-All is active in a relatively narrow temperature range. In a typical spring (if there is such a thing), the symptoms of this disease appear on the foliage as a slightly weakened looking stand of turf, but as the soil temperatures increase, the disease activity stops, and the Bentgrass grows out of it. However, this spring’s prolonged cool weather appears to have kept things in the “sweet spot” for this pathogen.
When you compare May, 2016 to May, 2015, you can see how soil temperatures remained much cooler throughout the first three weeks of the month, often hovering in the 55+/- degree range where Take-All is active.
While this may have been a weather anomaly, which may not occur again for years, steps are being taken to ensure that we won’t see the same issue again, regardless of the spring weather. We are fortunate to have a great local support network of turfgrass disease experts to consult with, including Rich Buckley, Director of Rutgers Plant Diagnostic Lab, Steve McDonald of Turfgrass Disease Solutions, and Adam Moeller, USGA agronomist.
With a root-borne pathogen such as Take-All, prevention is key, as we only see declining leaf tissue after the damage is already done to the root system. The plan going forward will likely include preventative fungicide treatments in the fall, as well as an increased use of acidifying nitrogen sources, such as ammonium sulfate, which will lower the soil pH, decreasing the severity of Take-All.