How the Fungus Stole Valentines!

Love is in the air and it appears a couple of our favorite fungi are falling in love with some turfgrasses in landscape settings. We have diagnosed tall fescue samples in our clinic this week with Microdochium Patch (a.k.a. pink snow mold). The reason we don’t call it pink snow mold is because this disease doesn’t require snow nor does it always produce a pink color symptom. In one case, the disease was made worse by letting sod remain stacked on a  pallet for several days which created ideal conditions for the fungus to thrive.  Under prolonged favorable conditions (cool and wet), this disease can cause some serious damage to cool-season turfgrasses. For more information about this disease, click here!

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Microdochium symptoms on tall fescue.

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Close up of Microdochium symptoms on tall fescue. Notice the matted foliage in the center.

For those of you not feeling the whole pink-Valentines thing, I’ll talk about a disease that’s causing black spots and patches in dormant zoysiagrass right now. These black areas are being caused by a species of Curvularia.This fungus is currently acting as a saprophyte by feeding on the dormant leaf tissue and with all the wet weather we’ve had this winter, we have received numerous reports of this problem. Most of the time this is strictly an aesthetic problem, however if you couple wet weather with scalping during the first few mowings in the spring you will likely notice that these patches thin out and are slow to fill in due to this fungus taking advantage of a slow growing and injured plant.

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Typical stand symptoms in dormant zoysiagrass.

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Close up of stand symptoms on dormant zoysiagrass.