Zeroing in on Large Patch

Here in the Southeast, most turf managers consider zoysiagrass a hardy, easily maintained turfgrass for use on home lawns, commercial turf areas and — of course — golf course fairways. Since zoysiagrass is drought tolerant, grows in any type of soil and requires minimal mowing, it’s often an attractive alternative to bermudagrass.
But zoysiagrass does have its downside. It is particularly susceptible to a disease commonly known as Large patch’ — caused by a strain of Rhizoctonia solani. Environmental conditions favoring Large patch development are cool soil temperatures and wet conditions. Visual symptoms can occur in the fall and spring as circular, discolored patches that expand over time.

From mild to wild, unusual weather forces turf pros to expect the unexpected.

As the Turf and Ornamental Market Specialist for FMC Professional Solutions in the Southeast region, I’ve witnessed firsthand a very strange 2012 thus far. The year began with one of the mildest, shortest winters I can remember. Now we are in the midst of one of the calmest and longest springs in recent memory. What’s more, over the past few years the Deep South has become accustomed to multiple snowfalls in January and February, followed by a brief spring and then tortuous summer heat! Although mild overall temperatures may seem desirable, they can present a catch-22 of sorts. At this point, golf course superintendents who maintain bentgrass greens are happy that we’re still experiencing 77° F days with a mild breeze to boot. Their turf is healthy, their root systems are still intact and their fungicide usage is down. But what about the ultra-dwarf Bermuda courses? Bermudagrass needs warm days and nights to thrive along with plenty of sunlight. Unfortunately for these superintendents, the mild days accompanied by overcast skies prevent precious sunlight from reaching their Bermuda greens. Despite the money I saved from my home’s gas heater staying dormant for most of January and February, Old Man Winter still plays a vital role in our ecosystem. Cold weather helps maintain pest populations and keeps spring and summer weeds at bay. Whether you typically deal with aphids, mosquitoes, army worms, fire ants or beetles, insect populations are expected to grow this year due to the mild winter we recently experienced. This affects LCO, golf and nursery budgets as more insecticides have to be sprayed. The same is happening with...