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Brown Patch

Brown Patch close upDescription: Brown patch is caused by a fungal pathogen that affects all cool season turfgrass species. It is a foliar disease that does not affect crowns or roots. Moderate to severe outbreaks on high-maintenance creeping bentgrass and annual bluegrass can result in thin, poor quality turf that may be predisposed to algae and moss infestation. Taller mown turfgrasses for athletic fields and professional landscapes (especially tall fescue and perennial ryegrass) also may sustain damage from brown patch infection. Under favorable environmental condition brown patch symptoms may develop overnight. On creeping bentgrass and annual bluegrass greens and tees, brown patch development results in circular olive green stains, ranging from 4 to 12 inches in diameter Leaf blades within the patch turn brown after infection, while a gray-white band is normally evident at the perimeter of active patches. The band (often called a smoke ring) is caused by advancing mycelium and watersoaked infected leaves. Smoke rings may occur on taller mown turf, but are much less evident.

Brown patch is a summer disease. The pathogen becomes active during hot, humid periods when dew periods exceed 10 hours and nighttime temperatures remain above 65° F. Also, outbreaks will be more severe when nitrogen fertility is excessive during disease-favorable weather. The brown patch pathogen produces no spores. Therefore, the disease spreads by radial expansion of mycelium over leaf blades and by mechanical maintenance practices. The fungus survives in thatch and turf debris between active periods.

Brown Patch damageDamage: Brown patch can cause serious damage to tall fescue and perennial ryegrass residential lawns under certain conditions. The disease will result in thin, poor-quality turf as the fungus consumes leaves and tillers. Because brown patch does not affect crowns and roots, damaged turf areas should recover upon the return of weather favorable to turf growth, especially if turf is not further damaged by traffic and/or other stresses.

Control: Avoid summer fertilization. Avoid early evening irrigation to help limit brown patch development. Fungicides are available but should not be necessary for residential lawns. If a homeowner decides to pursue the chemical control option, then a professional lawn care service should be contracted for the application.