Contents

Introduction

Golf courses are considered as environmentally friendly and biodiverse areas surrounding urban areas. These areas can act as “highways” linking agricultural lands together. These areas are very important as they often provide a natural habitat for bees and other beneficial insects which have fundamental roles within the ecosystem, including pollination of food crops.
With this in mind, there has been stricter regulatory changes put in place to maintain these valuable ecosystems. As such, in recent years there has been limited advancement in available fungicide chemistry for greenkeeping. Authorities also potentially wish to restrict any active ingredients due to environmental concerns.
We ask: what are the risk factors options for a greenkeeper wishing to achieve a high-quality playing surface all year round whilst maintaining a disease-free sward?

Fusarium Patch Disease

Fusarium Patch, caused by the Microdochium nivale pathogen is one of the most common diseases that affects fine turf on golf courses. Reductions in the number of fungicide products available and lower concentrations of active ingredients are making Fusarium and other diseases of turf more difficult to control. Fusarium Patch can occur at any time of the year if the weather conditions are favourable for its growth. It is most common and destructive during the Autumn and Winter when the weather is moist and mild. It may also occur during Spring in mild temperatures and during Summer in warm, humid conditions.

IMG 2131

Risk factors for a Fusarium Patch outbreak:

  • High levels of moisture in the air leave the turf damp, creating favourable conditions for disease to thrive and spread.
  • Reduced air flow and shade so it takes longer for the leaf to dry out, again creating favourable conditions for disease.
  • Excess Nitrogen can cause weaker growth by the turfgrass, enabling fusarium to inoculate into the turf.
  • Low mowing heights. A shorter height of cut reduces the leaf area in which the plant can photosynthesise, again making recovery from disease harder.
  • Alkaline soil conditions and soil profiles containing high levels of organic matter.
    If left unchecked and allowed to fully develop, Fusarium will leave scarring on the turf, at which point over-seeding may be required to repair the turf surface.

Anthracnose

Anthracnose, caused by the Colletotrichum cereale pathogen, is another very common disease of fine turf on golf courses. Annual meadow grass is the most susceptible turf species to the disease, but it can also affect bentgrasses. Like Fusarium, Anthracnose can develop any time of year but is most common and damaging during Summer.
The disease can cause both a foliar blight and a basal stem rot. The foliar blight is characterised by bright yellow speckles on the turf surface (or reddish-brown in the case of affected bentgrass). It is most common during periods of drought stress, while the basal rot can give turf more of an orange or bronze appearance. In general, Anthracnose favours Annual meadow and tend not to affect bentgrasses if present.

anth

Risk factors for an Anthracnose outbreak:

  • Cold and wet conditions.
  • Hot and dry conditions.
  • Drought.
  • Low mowing heights.
  • Low nitrogen fertility.
  • Heavy foot traffic and soil compaction can create soils with poor drainage that are depleted in oxygen, which all make the turfgrass more susceptible to disease.

Cultural Considerations
When trying to manage or prevent any disease outbreak, cultural methods should often be considered the first line of defence. For Anthracnose, this might mean increasing the height of cut in Summer and preventing drought stress by hand watering when necessary. Nitrogen should be applied throughout the growing season in small regular doses, along with light topdressings of sand.
For Fusarium, managing surface moisture is critical so dew should be removed from the turf along with ensuring susceptible areas have good drainage. Thatch levels should be controlled as much as possible and top dressing should not be applied heavily during conditions that favour pathogen spread. Correct use of wetting agents and dew dispersers can also help reduce the risk by removing moisture saturation and dew at the turf surface.
As Annual meadow grass is the most susceptible species to both diseases, overseeding with fescues and bentgrasses can also reduce the risk of severe disease outbreaks.

Disease Management Plan

Picture3

To achieve preventative control of turf diseases, it is necessary to have an integrated disease management plan. Prevention is better than the cure, so the earlier treatments are applied the lower the likelihood of disease scarring and play disruption on a given surface. If environmental conditions are ideal for a given disease, use of preventative fungicides should be considered. However, this may not be necessary with the correct cultural practices and appropriate applications of nutrition. It is important not to apply nutrition in excess, especially nitrogen, as this can lead to excessive growth of soft leaf tissue, making turf more susceptible to pathogen attack.

Treatment options

  • HITAS Liquid iron application will not have a direct effect on the pathogen but is necessary for chlorophyll production, strengthening cell walls within the plant and increasing disease resistance. Liquid Irons are also often acidic which acidifies the stem base of the plant, limiting the infection and spread of Fusarium.
  • HITAS Potassium promotes the formation of strong cell membranes and improves tolerance to stress such as from cold and diseases.
  • HITAS Potassium phosphite can stimulate the turfgrass plants natural defence mechanisms, which makes the plant more resistant to disease. It also has a direct effect on the pathogen, as it directly inhibits mycelial growth and germination, which slows the growth of the pathogen.
  • HITAS Calcium helps to strengthen the cell wall of plants.
Trial data
Disease Field Trial 2023 – Treatments for Liquid Iron (Iron), Potassium phosphite and Calcium (High Ca) are shown. Areas of disease are indicated by yellow squares.

See our Product Selection tab on the HITAS website for more information on our product range and what they can do for you.

Conclusions

With the likelihood that restrictions on the use of fungicides will only get stricter, it is becoming increasingly important for turf managers to fight disease outbreaks through other, more indirect, means. Numerous studies show that correct use of the products discussed in this article will fit perfectly into an integrated disease management strategy, with cultural methods of management always being the first point of call. The focus will largely shift from control to prevention for all forms of pathogen attack, with these methods forming an integral part of this strategy for years to come.

Introduction

Golf courses are considered as environmentally friendly and biodiverse areas surrounding urban areas. These areas can act as “highways” linking agricultural lands together. These areas are very important as they often provide a natural habitat for bees and other beneficial insects which have fundamental roles within the ecosystem, including pollination of food crops.
With this in mind, there has been stricter regulatory changes put in place to maintain these valuable ecosystems. As such, in recent years there has been limited advancement in available fungicide chemistry for greenkeeping. Authorities also potentially wish to restrict any active ingredients due to environmental concerns.
We ask: what are the risk factors options for a greenkeeper wishing to achieve a high-quality playing surface all year round whilst maintaining a disease-free sward?

Fusarium Patch Disease

Fusarium Patch, caused by the Microdochium nivale pathogen is one of the most common diseases that affects fine turf on golf courses. Reductions in the number of fungicide products available and lower concentrations of active ingredients are making Fusarium and other diseases of turf more difficult to control. Fusarium Patch can occur at any time of the year if the weather conditions are favourable for its growth. It is most common and destructive during the Autumn and Winter when the weather is moist and mild. It may also occur during Spring in mild temperatures and during Summer in warm, humid conditions.

IMG 2131

Risk factors for a Fusarium Patch outbreak:

  • High levels of moisture in the air leave the turf damp, creating favourable conditions for disease to thrive and spread.
  • Reduced air flow and shade so it takes longer for the leaf to dry out, again creating favourable conditions for disease.
  • Excess Nitrogen can cause weaker growth by the turfgrass, enabling fusarium to inoculate into the turf.
  • Low mowing heights. A shorter height of cut reduces the leaf area in which the plant can photosynthesise, again making recovery from disease harder.
  • Alkaline soil conditions and soil profiles containing high levels of organic matter.
    If left unchecked and allowed to fully develop, Fusarium will leave scarring on the turf, at which point over-seeding may be required to repair the turf surface.

Anthracnose

Anthracnose, caused by the Colletotrichum cereale pathogen, is another very common disease of fine turf on golf courses. Annual meadow grass is the most susceptible turf species to the disease, but it can also affect bentgrasses. Like Fusarium, Anthracnose can develop any time of year but is most common and damaging during Summer.
The disease can cause both a foliar blight and a basal stem rot. The foliar blight is characterised by bright yellow speckles on the turf surface (or reddish-brown in the case of affected bentgrass). It is most common during periods of drought stress, while the basal rot can give turf more of an orange or bronze appearance. In general, Anthracnose favours Annual meadow and tend not to affect bentgrasses if present.

anth

Risk factors for an Anthracnose outbreak:

  • Cold and wet conditions.
  • Hot and dry conditions.
  • Drought.
  • Low mowing heights.
  • Low nitrogen fertility.
  • Heavy foot traffic and soil compaction can create soils with poor drainage that are depleted in oxygen, which all make the turfgrass more susceptible to disease.

Cultural Considerations
When trying to manage or prevent any disease outbreak, cultural methods should often be considered the first line of defence. For Anthracnose, this might mean increasing the height of cut in Summer and preventing drought stress by hand watering when necessary. Nitrogen should be applied throughout the growing season in small regular doses, along with light topdressings of sand.
For Fusarium, managing surface moisture is critical so dew should be removed from the turf along with ensuring susceptible areas have good drainage. Thatch levels should be controlled as much as possible and top dressing should not be applied heavily during conditions that favour pathogen spread. Correct use of wetting agents and dew dispersers can also help reduce the risk by removing moisture saturation and dew at the turf surface.
As Annual meadow grass is the most susceptible species to both diseases, overseeding with fescues and bentgrasses can also reduce the risk of severe disease outbreaks.

Disease Management Plan

Picture3

To achieve preventative control of turf diseases, it is necessary to have an integrated disease management plan. Prevention is better than the cure, so the earlier treatments are applied the lower the likelihood of disease scarring and play disruption on a given surface. If environmental conditions are ideal for a given disease, use of preventative fungicides should be considered. However, this may not be necessary with the correct cultural practices and appropriate applications of nutrition. It is important not to apply nutrition in excess, especially nitrogen, as this can lead to excessive growth of soft leaf tissue, making turf more susceptible to pathogen attack.

Treatment options

  • HITAS Liquid iron application will not have a direct effect on the pathogen but is necessary for chlorophyll production, strengthening cell walls within the plant and increasing disease resistance. Liquid Irons are also often acidic which acidifies the stem base of the plant, limiting the infection and spread of Fusarium.
  • HITAS Potassium promotes the formation of strong cell membranes and improves tolerance to stress such as from cold and diseases.
  • HITAS Potassium phosphite can stimulate the turfgrass plants natural defence mechanisms, which makes the plant more resistant to disease. It also has a direct effect on the pathogen, as it directly inhibits mycelial growth and germination, which slows the growth of the pathogen.
  • HITAS Calcium helps to strengthen the cell wall of plants.
Trial data
Disease Field Trial 2023 – Treatments for Liquid Iron (Iron), Potassium phosphite and Calcium (High Ca) are shown. Areas of disease are indicated by yellow squares.

See our Product Selection tab on the HITAS website for more information on our product range and what they can do for you.

Conclusions

With the likelihood that restrictions on the use of fungicides will only get stricter, it is becoming increasingly important for turf managers to fight disease outbreaks through other, more indirect, means. Numerous studies show that correct use of the products discussed in this article will fit perfectly into an integrated disease management strategy, with cultural methods of management always being the first point of call. The focus will largely shift from control to prevention for all forms of pathogen attack, with these methods forming an integral part of this strategy for years to come.

Contents

See also