If you have circular areas of dying grass in your yard that remind you of small crop circles, aliens haven’t paid you a visit, but a fungal disease may have. Left unchecked, it has the potential to destroy your entire lawn. Here’s what you need to know about brown patch fungus, also known as Rhizoctonia blight.
Brown patch is a fungal disease that affects both cool- and warm-season grasses, including St. Augustine grass and zoysia grass. Not usually seen in the summer months, brown patch is likely to appear from November through early spring. It can be triggered by over-irrigating, lengthy periods of high humidity, or continuous rainfall that causes the grass to stay damp for an extended period of time.
Brown patch disease most often starts as small yellow areas that turn brown or straw-colored as it kills the blades of grass. Patches can grow to several feet across, and also can appear as rings with healthier grass in the center. On closely cut wet grass, you may notice a dark gray or dark brown ring around the edges; this ring is evidence that fungal growth is active.
The fungus can attack lawns that are in both good and poor condition. Disease development may be more likely in turf with poor drainage or air movement, as well as in lush lawns that may have received excessive nitrogen fertilization.
Good lawn care practices are the first line of defense. While high humidity and temperatures can’t be controlled, there are several things you can to do reduce the chances that brown patch fungus will strike:
Even if you take these measures, brown patch fungus can appear. It’s important to avoid spreading it to other areas of your lawn, so remove grass clippings when you mow and don’t mow across diseased areas.
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