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Dollar Spot

Dollar spotDescription: Dollar spot is caused by a fungal pathogen(Sclerotinia homoeocarpa) that blights leaf tissues but does not affect turfgrass roots or crowns. The disease is a common concern on golf course turf, especially creeping bentgrass and annual bluegrass greens, tees, and fairways, where it can result in poor turf quality and appearance.

Dollar spot is rare on sports turf and professional landscapes. Outbreaks may occur in residential lawn turf and can reduce the lawn's aesthetic quality and contribute to an overall decline in turf vigor. However, severe dollar spot in residential lawn turf usually is a sign of neglect and poor turf maintenance.

Damage: Characteristic symptoms on creeping bentgrass include small (up to 1 inch in diameter), round, tan-colored spots. The spots often occur in clusters and can cause considerable damage to playing surfaces if not appropriately managed. In the early morning hours after a long dew period, the dollar spot pathogen will produce an abundance of mycelia on affected plant parts.

Dollar Spot 2Characteristic symptoms on individual plants include distinct lesions on leaf blades with straw-colored centers and red-brown margins. Leaf spot symptoms are more readily observed on taller mown turf species such as Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass. The dollar spot pathogen survives in the turf environment as mycelium in infested turf  debris. The pathogen becomes active with rising temperatures in the spring. Mycelial growth and infection occur during extended dew periods (longer than 8 hours) over a broad range of temperatures (55°-80°F).

The severity of dollar spot development is increased significantly in nitrogen deficient turf stands. Turf suffering from poor nutrition also is slow to recover from disease damage. The pathogen produces no spores; spread occurs through radial growth from individual infection centers and by the movement of infected and infested leaf blades, usually through turf maintenance operations such as mowing and core aeration.

Control: Because dollar spot is more severe on nitrogen-deficient turf, an adequate nitrogen fertility program will significantly contribute to disease control. Adequate N nutrition will produce plants that are less prone to disease. The result will be a delay in disease outbreaks in the spring, reduced severity of outbreaks, improved fungicide performance, and more rapid turf recovery. Proper irrigation scheduling also may contribute to dollar spot control. Nighttime and early morning irrigation are preferred. Irrigation during the late afternoon and early evening hours should be avoided.