Monday, April 28, 2014

Cocktails For The Yard & House Part 5 : Fungus

The series continues…Cocktails For Better Results Part 5. If you missed part 1,2, 3 and 4 and would like to see them, go to and look under Horticulture Hotline tab.

Large Patch or Brown Patch fungus loves these weather conditions. Temperatures at night in the high 50’s to high 60’s and moisture make conditions real favorable for Large Patch or Brown Patch fungus. We have had plenty of these conditions making the fungus environment perfect for the spread of this disease.

Since it is very difficult to control night time temperatures, you can put your efforts into doing other cultural things to help minimize the disease. Large Patch or Brown Patch fungus likes wet, heavy thatch, improper nutrition, and/or compacted soils.   Culturally you need to manage your irrigation system, raise any low areas, and correct drainage problems.  Reducing thatch, maintaining proper fertility levels, and aerating to alleviate compaction, will also help control Large Patch or Brown Patch fungus.

Certain organic products have shown to increase microorganisms in the soil that compete with plant pathogenic fungus in the soil. At Possum’s we get good feedback from Nature’s Blend, SeaHume, Crab Shell, Corn Gluten, Cotton Burr Compost, and some of the Roots products. These products are not fungicides; however, people that use them report back to us that they notice less fungus in the yards that they apply these products.

I have heard way too many success stories from the use of the above products to mention in this article; however, I have to mention three. A landscaper that mainly works in the Summerville area near the Ashley River told me that since he has been using SeaHume  his use of fungicides has almost gone to zero. I can look at his sales history with Possum’s and his fungicide use has definitely plummeted. Another landscaper had fought fungus continually in one yard in Stono Ferry. He started using Nature’s Blend and the fungus is gone. A homeowner that lives up Highway 41 told me about their success with Neptune Harvest’s Crab Shell product. This person had fungus in the same area for over 10 years, and applied Crab Shell lightly a few times and hasn’t had the fungus for 3 years.

Since the grass is coming out of dormancy so slow, a systemic control product like Cleary’s 3336 and Disarm might be a good idea to get you through the next month or so as long as conditions are favorable for the disease.

Being a soil borne disease, you know that it will reoccur in the same areas year after year.  If the base of a leaf blade with Large Patch is moved from one part of the yard to another (lawn mower), this can begin a new infection area; however, these are not spores flying through the air.  As a soil borne fungus, if you map the areas that you have the disease, you can concentrate your control efforts (dollars) into a smaller area, putting less control products into the environment.  If your yard is 5,000 sq ft usually you might have a few infected areas which might total approx. 500 ft.  Instead of buying control products to treat 5,000 sq ft, you can concentrate your efforts into the 500 ft (i.e. 10% of your total yard).  If Large Patch was an air borne fungus with spores, you would have had to treat the entire yard because air borne fungus spreads a lot quicker than soil borne fungus.