Monday, October 3, 2016

Nature Always Amazes ...

Horticulture Hotline 10/03/16
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Stinkhorn fungi (devil’s backbone) has been smelling up new mulch beds all over the Lowcountry.  The conditions have been perfect for the growth of this fungus this fall.  We have been inundated with phone calls at Possum’s about that orange stinky fungus!  This fungus has an awful nasty odor that smells like rotten flesh.

Some plants in nature attract insects with sweet smelling nectar to spread pollen to other plants.  This fungus; however, exudes a slime over part of its fruiting body (the mushroom) attracting flies that like rotten flesh or feces.  The flies then spread the fungus because spores attach to their bodies.  Nice! You have mushroom that exudes a smell like rotten flesh and feces to attract flies.  I guess this is the opposite approach of a gardenia. 

The way I control stinkhorn is with a plastic bag like picking up dog poop.  Put a bag on your hand, lift up the mushroom pull the plastic bag over the mushroom and try not to drop too many spores.  These mushrooms are the fruiting body of a fungus that is beneath the soil.  The orange fruiting body is attached to hyphae that are underneath the ground decomposing organic matter.  In nature, fungi are good for your soil; however, this can be an unwelcome guest in your home.  Fungi, in general, tend to like acidic soil as do most plants, so I wouldn’t try to control them by adjusting the pH.  Hopefully, the environmental conditions that cause them to pop up all over the place will go away soon. 

There is something that looks like an egg that the mushroom pops out of that some people (mainly in Asia) consider a delicacy.  No thank you, I’m not interested in something that smells like rotten flesh or feces. 

These weather conditions have been perfect for Large Patch fungus to be active in your turf.  Riding through neighborhoods, I’m starting to see a lot of damage from the disease.  Be sure to rake up your leaves, turn off your irrigation system and treat any diseased areas in your yard.  Try to correct any drainage, thatch, compacted areas or standing water issues you have. Fungi like wet yards, so try to keep yours as dry as possible. If you need to treat with a fungicide, Cleary’s 3336 and Fame are two good systemic fungicides.

If you have St. Augustine, beware of the Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug. They are out still this year and doing a lot of damage. Often misdiagnosed, this plant juice sucker can do major damage while you are trying to identify what is going on in your yard.

It is October, so I’m sure you have your preemergent herbicide out by now. If not, remember it is never too late, weed seeds germinate all the time here.

Stay away from those national brand winterizer fertilizers that are designed for fescue grass. Possum Minors or 00-00-25 with minors would be much better for your warm season grass. Of course a soil test will provide the best information.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.