|Mowing drought-stressed lawns can make|
Ascochyta worse. Notice no disease at top
of photo - shadier and no drought stress here!
Extension Turf Specialist
Extension Turf Specialist
The appearance of Ascochyta Leaf Blight has become an annual springtime event on lawns in Colorado. We have written about Ascochyta before: see our 2013, 2015 and 2016 blogs on this lawn disease. For more detailed information on Ascochyta in lawns, read those blogs because I’m not going to repeat everything that we've already written about it.
What I do want to talk about is WHY the Ascochyta disease appeared so suddenly over the last week. We’ve been inundated with calls, emails and texts with a common theme: “My lawn was perfectly green, and now you should see it! What happened?”. The explanation of why – that the disease is incited by drought stress – doesn’t make sense to people because it appeared after the very wet (2 plus inches of water) snowy/rainy storm that came on May 16-18. That abundance of moisture (here’s what people DON’T remember) was preceded by two WEEKS of above-normal temperatures and very dry weather (red flag weather, if you recall?). And while everyone who has seen this happen to their lawns claims they were watering, I saw a lot of drought-stressed turf in the week before the storm. All it takes to turn Ascochyta on is a day or two of drought stress and heat during the spring – which this graph clearly shows was probable in home lawns this May. Those who REALLY were watering their lawns (or have shady lawns, or north exposure lawns) are not seeing Ascochyta.
Here are some pics of what we’ve seen the past week.
In these 2 photos, there is less/no Ascochyta in parts of the lawn that are shaded or receiving a little more water from gutter downspouts. Ascochyta is turned on by heat and drought stress in the spring
Some quick bullets on the disease (go here for more details):
- As bad as it looks, it isn’t dead!
- Affected turf will take 1-3 weeks to recover, depending on severity and turf species.
- It is NOT spread by mowing equipment – so there is no need to sanitize your mower.
- Fungicides are NOT EFFECTIVE for preventing or curing the disease – so don’t apply them!
- Adjust watering (and fix sprinkler coverage issues) to maintain consistent soil moisture, but not so that it is swampy (which will slow down recovery).
- This appears to be a disease that occurs when cool weather turns into hot weather (hence a spring disease), so it will pretty much disappear as we become consistently warm in the summer.
|Ascochyta doesn't kill the grass plant. You will see new growth|
under the dead leaves almost immediately following an outbreak
of this disease. Recovery can take 1-3 weeks, depending on
severity and grass species.
|While you can see mowing patterns with Ascochyta, mowing and the mower|
doesn't spread the fungus. The mowing is an additional stress when turf is
heat and drought-stressed - so the Ascochyta and mower stress combine to
cause the browning of the turf.