Monday, May 28, 2018

Have you Been Slimed?

Horticulture Hotline 05/28/18

Is it natural or a coincidence? Just when the colleges and high schools let out for the summer, many of your lawns got “slimed” this past week! I have not seen any “TPed” houses; however, I have seen many lawns with cotton pieces in them. How about those termite swarmers?

Many people coming in to Possum’s are concerned over a black film over the leaf blades of grass. What you see is the fruiting body of a fungus that is decomposing thatch and other organic matter in the soil. When the fungus tries to reproduce, it sends it’s spores up the leaf blade of the grass where it is higher up in the air, so the wind will catch a spore more easily. With the spore up in the air, it will travel further also. This fungus is called slime mold.

Slime mold does not hurt the grass, except for the shading of the sun from the leaf surface where photosynthesis takes place. The weather was perfect for this mold to want to reproduce. Overcast, rainy and humid days are ideal conditions for this fungus.

 Since slime mold’s main purpose is to decompose organic matter in the soil and it really does not damage the grass, I have never recommended any chemical control for slime molds. I do suggest you spray it off of the leaf blades of your grass with a hose if you like. In a commercial setting or golf course (read and follow product label), you could use Protect DF.

All grasses are a susceptible host, but remember the spores are just using the grass like a ladder for a little elevation. Slime mold is helping to break down thatch and other organic matter, which is a good thing.

Mushrooms are also popping up in people’s lawn for many of the same reasons. Mushrooms do not hurt the yard typically and will go away when the environmental conditions change.

The environmental conditions are perfect for termite swarms also. If you see a bunch of winged insects flying around in your house or in your yard, contact the pest management company that has the bond on your house. Swarming termites could be a sign of a larger problem.

The cotton pieces in people’s yard are just people topdressing with cotton burr compost. The 2 cuft bags have been screened one more time than the 3 cuft bags, so you get less cotton balls. The benefits of topdressing with cotton burr compost will have to be another subject for another week. My column inches are running out fast.

With all the rain, I’m seeing some mighty hungry grass.

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