Spring Dead Spot
Fungal Pathogen – Ophiosphaerella korrae
Spring dead spot is a turf disease that appears as bleached patches in your lawn, ranging from just a few centimetres in size to large patches sometimes over 1 metre in diameter. The fungal pathogen attacks the roots, stolons and rhizomes of couch grass. The roots will begin to rot and become dark brown or even completely black, give us a call if you are around Newcastle and you notice this in your lawn..
If you don’t have a couch variety of turf, then don’t panic! It is highly unlikely for other turf varieties like buffalo or kikuyu to suffer spring dead spot. It is almost exclusively a couch type disease with some rare occurrences in zoysia’s. Most of the time you will only see spring dead spot in couch lawns that are under intensive management being cut super low and frequently, so it is quite common to see it appear on golf courses. For the lawnies out there who love a manicured, low cut couch lawn, this is a disease you need to look out for.
Symptoms of spring dead spot generally appear, as the name suggests, in spring when your grass has started to grow again. It can also occur in autumn and during winter. Cooler temperatures along with additional moisture in your soil will provide the ideal conditions for this disease to spread.
Spring Dead Spot is quite difficult to control. First thing will be to look at the quality of the soil and evaluate the following:
- Compaction levels
- Amount of drainage
- Thatch build up
- Potassium levels
Once these issues are addressed, you then need to look at regular aeration, which can greatly increase the quality of the plant, enabling it to recover.
Fungicides generally do not work well with this disease as they may disguise the underlying problem, so it is recommended to work on the issues above first. You can then look at implementing a preventative program with regular applications of a broad-spectrum fungicide.
Tests have shown a higher prevalence of spring dead spot in turf grass that has been subjected to increased applications of Nitrogen during the previous summer. So whilst it can feel rewarding to apply extra applications of high nitrogen fertilisers for additional green up, its not recommended to do so, it will be detrimental to overall plant health and can lead to spring dead spot.
Recovery will take some time as the patches are usually completely dead and it will require the spread of stolons back into the patch which can take almost the entire growing season.