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Brown Patch, Sting
Dtmr Plant Doctor; My centi
pedegrass lawn has been established
fof 5 years and 1 have had no
or insect problems. However this
spnng, I have seen numerous circu
it dark "spots'* develop and fT^ar
to kill my new crop of grass. These
spots are usually 2 to 3 feet in diam
eter. What can I do to save my lawn
from total destruction?
iw? ? -,,r ,,
? *? uuiai|^uu
ANSWER: I suspect the disease
you have in your centipedegrass is
brown patch (Rhizoctonia spp).
Diuwii piiui piuuuccs circular
brown areas up to 20 feet in diame
ter in many species of warm- and
cool-season lawngrass during cool,
wet weather or under heavy irriga
Early morning symptoms of the
disease include a "smoke ring" of
grayish-black fiingal mycelia on the
outer perimeter of the infected area.
Brown patch disease can also cause
severe damage to St Augustine
grass, bermudsgrass, zoysiagrass,
carpel grass, tall fescue and ryegrass
The discsss ss most "vers or the
tender young foliage of warm-sea
son grasses during first green-up in
the spring and during unseasonably
warm, wet autumn weather. Brown
patch disease is aggravated by ex
cessive thatch build-up, heavy nitro
gen fertilization, and poor soii water
I observed numerous lawns of
centipedegrass and St. Augustine
grass that were severely infected by
brown patch last October. These ar
eas are now dead and quickly allow
ing broadleaf weeds a foothold into
No good "cures" exist for brown
patch. The best solution is preventa
tive. Spring infestations of brown
patch will often recover rapidity
during the summer without any ex
tra care. Follow N.C. State Univer
sity Cooperative Extension fertiliza
tion, mowing and cultural practices
? Do not fertilize centipedegrass
with nitrogen before May.
? Do not fertilize any warm-sea
son grass with nitrogen after Sept
S Use s s!ow-r?!??* nitmaen
fertilizer when you fertilize.
? Remove heavy thatch in May
or June. Cultivate heavily thatched
lawns using ayrr aerification, a pow
er rake or hard rake.
? Rake out previous infected ar
eas and plug or sod new grass for
most rapid recovery.
Preventative applications of fung
icides in home lawns are not gener
siiy rjcossnsfsdfd. if vou
see the early signs of brown patch in
the spring or fall, the application of
a fungicide (eg. Daconil 2787, Ban
ner, Ba/leton. Chipco 26019 or
Clearys 3336) will prevent the
spread of the disease. 1 am sending
you ** Problems on Centipeds grass -
Turf grass Information Note 1 " and
"Disease of Warm-Season Grasses
Dear nasi Doctor; Upon your
advice, I sent off a sample of soil for
nematode analysis. The results re
cently returned in the mail but they
nuke no sense to me. Enclosed is a
copy. I have centipedegrass, what do
I need to do? ? Shallotte
ANSWER: You have a problem.
Sting nematode populations in your
soil are very high.
Nematodes are microscopic
roundworms that exist on, in or
around nearly every living thing on
earth. Most nematodes arc beneficial
in the jyes! web of life, but i v*rv
few species of nematodes are para
sitic on plants. However, those spe
cies cause millions of dollars of
damage to agricultural and horticul
tural crops every year.
The lesion, stunt, spiral, root
knot, dagger, stubby-root, ring and
lance nematodes are commoniy as
sociated with lawn grass roots but
these nematodes rarely cause signifi
cant reductions in plant growth or
development. Research has shown
that the sting nematode is the most
damaging root parasite of "most"
warm season i awn grasses. And you
have a healthy population of sting
The sting nematode (Belonola
imus spp) is most comfortable in a
come sanrfy soil in the southeastern
United States where it feeds on ne?r
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ly every species of native or intro
duced grass. The sting nematode is
classified as an ectoparasite because
it feeds by puncturing and feeding
upon the new growing root tips of
the grass plant. As few as 20 sting
nematodes per pint of soil can se
verely reduce the growth of your
lawngrass. Based upon your soil
sample, your lawn has over 140 sting
nematodes per piiii of soil.
Populations of sting nematode are
most severe during the early sum
mer and mid-autumn. The occur
rence of iargc, damaging uCiuStOCSc
populations is highly erratic and not
predictable based upon weather, soil
type or other environmental condi
tions. This makes treatment ex
No pesticides arc currently avail
able to the homeowner that effec
tively control plant parasitic nema
todes on lawn grasses.
The solution to your nematode
problem is to do everything you can
to reduce environmental stress on
your lawngrass and hope the nema
rW-irtr fn go ekewhere Fert
ilize, irrigate, cultivate and mow
your lawn according to N.C Co
operative Extension Service recom
I have enclosed a copy of "Pro
blems on Centipede grass - Turf grass
Disease Note I " and "Carolina
Lawns -AG69" for your information.
Good luck! (Note: Nematode sam
ple kits can be picked up at any N.C.
Cooperative Extension Office. A ne
matode analysis by the NCDA costs
Send your gardening questions or
comments to the Plant Doctor, P.O.
Box 109, Bolivia NC 28422.
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