Best Fescue Cultivar Resistant to Fungus

control(Chesapeake, VA, USA)May 7, 2008

Does anybody have any idea of which fescue cultivar is the best for staving off brown patch, fusarium blight, etc? I fight fungus flare ups every year. But, because I overseed with a variety of fesue blends, the ones that are hearty enough and manage to survive are unknown to me. I've been able to stay away from the chemicals, but I'm close to going back to them, if I can't get this under control. Any info is appreciated.

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billhill(z5 MI - KBG)

More information is needed to give you an informed answer to your question. Are you talking about TTTF or fine fescue. What cultivars are you growing now ? What are your growing conditions ? Amount of sunlight, Soil type and conditions, Watering practices, fertilizer practices. With a little more information, IÂm sure someone with knowledge of fescue lawns in Chesapeake, VA area will be able to help you out.
Bill Hill

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 12:26PM
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Billl(z7 nc)

Not to be overly critical, but if you have a numerous fungus problems every year, the particular type of grass isn't the problem. Some grasses are more resistant to certain diseases than others, but the main cause of most fungal diseases is cultural. Ultimately, you'll need to address that before the grass will thrive.

How do you water? Fertilize? Mow? Is it shady? Yard fenced in? Is the soil compacted clay?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 4:19PM
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control(Chesapeake, VA, USA)

Thanks, for the replys guys.

I'm talking TTTF, full sun, water heavy once a week (if needed), and soil with some clay in a fenced in back yard. In the last 3 years, I've overseeded/reseeded heavy with Southern Gold, Southern Belle, Rebel III mix, Rebel IV mix, Exeda, Scotts Pure Premium, and Lesco Transition.

I core aerate 2-3 times a year. I fertilize 3 times in the fall and once in the spring and have moved to mostly organic stuff, as I focus more now on feeding the soil rather than feeding the grass. I don't bag, and I mow high (3-5 inches -- I like it tall) depending on how the grass is doing, time of year, etc. I've been adding bags of composted manure and humus here and there in the low spots for the last year.

This year when I started seeing signs of fusarium blight popping up, I put down some of the Scotts Fungus Control, and it stopped it in its tracks. I've had to do that twice. I'm being vigilant, because conditions here are right for another flare up. I've also got some Eagle 20EW but haven't used it yet. I hate putting these kinds of things down, because I think they kill beneficial bacteria and fungi that help the organic fert do its job. But, I'd rather go chemical than end up with dirt and dead grass instead of a lawn.

Most of my research indicates that what I'm fighting is a soil borne disease that is exasperated by soil agitation and hot/dry conditions. Me and my family not using the lawn isn't going to happen, so my current plan is to cover what I feel are the trouble spots with compost in the fall.

With all that said, what I want to know is if there are any other people who have been through the same thing and gotten it under control, and if so, how (and, what grass seed seems to be the best for something like this)? The NTEP site is great, but I'm looking for practical implementation not theory.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 7:40AM
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control(Chesapeake, VA, USA)

Anyone? . . . Anyone? . . . Bueller?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 4:45PM
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I agree with Bill on this one about cultural practice. What I suggest is you hire a professional/licensed company to spray the lawn during June, July, and August.

Fescue is desease tolerant by nature, the worst is Brown Patch and you can spray for that as well. The cost for spraying a 5,000 sf lawn should run between $30 to $40.

I'm down in Central NC, I grow 100% Kentucky Bluegrass that gets sprayed for pests 3 months during the summer. It's desease-free, and I even water at night!

The variaties you are using are proven winners, specially Exeda with its fine bladed dark green appearance.

Are you sure is desease? You could have some construction debris right under the soil surface...

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 9:18AM
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I am by no means an organic lawn care expert, but I have read on the internet that applying corn meal at 20 lbs per 1,000 square feet will help increase the population of beneficial microbes that feed on some of the bad fungi that cause root rot and many other fungus problems.

Next fall when you overseed your lawn, you could also give the corn meal a shot. Apply it in the fall and again in early spring, maybe the beneficial microbes will grow strong and quickly exterminate these recurring evil fungi before they wreak havoc on your lawn.

That's my plan of attack on the fungi for next year. Currently, I'm in a state of panic and am resorting to harsh chemicals.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 12:26PM
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Of the seed labels you posted I don't think you'll find an individual TTTF cultivar more resistant than what you have planted. I know the Transition has highly rated cultivars. Contact your county extension agent and see if one of the master gardners in your area has some experience with your problem. My experience has been a fungus in TTTF is from too much water. I'd cut back on the watering and add some corn meal. I'd also try only core aerating in the fall (1x year).

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 8:16AM
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control(Chesapeake, VA, USA)

Thanks for the responses, everyone. That pretty much answers my question about the cultivars. I thought I had the best ones, but reassurance never hurts.

I also think I'm doing the right things culturally. However, I haven't done the cornmeal thing, but I'll make sure to go by the feed store this weekend. It's funny, but the Scotts anti-fungal stuff I've been putting down looks just like cornmeal. I wonder if they've just been "enhancing" regular old cornmeal with a mildly effective chemical in order to charge lots for it?

As for aerating, I thought the more often you did it the better, but maybe I am screwing something up by doing it in the spring. I could be disturbing dormant fungal spores and bringing them to the surface only to be activated just before the time of year they cause the most damage.

Anyway, thanks again. If anybody has anything else to add, feel free. My grass started yellowing dollarspot style about 2-3 days ago, so I'm going to give it another blast.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 4:42PM
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I may be fighting some of the same stuff. We had record rainfall this month and either my mistake with a dull blade cutting or a fungus is giving me a brownish tint to the lawn. I'm going to wait a few more weeks to see if drier conditions prevail. A section of the yard I was experimenting with Milorganite does not display the same problem so I am watching that closely.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 8:23AM
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Billl(z7 nc)

What a bad forum member I am - I ask questions and then don't check back for the answers....

Anyway, you've got a mix of good fescues, so you aren't going to improve much there. I'd try using some cornmeal once a month or so to help build up the benefitial fungi in the soil. If you are going to keep spraying fungicides though, that probably won't help much. Fungicides kill both good and bad fungi.

Culturally, if you notice a fungal outbreak, start bagging the clippings until it is under control. That will help limit its spread. Also, clean your mower deck religiously. Get all the debris off, spray it with a disinfectant, rinse, and let dry in the sun.

In the fall, make the last couple mows of the season a little shorter. Then, rake up all the debris you can. A little extra air flow near the soil's surface generally cuts down on overwintering fungus.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 11:13AM
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control(Chesapeake, VA, USA)

Thanks billl and soccer_dad.

I'm confident that my mower blade is sharp, as I hit the curb about 3 mowings back and sharpened it the following week, but I'm with you guys on that. I may replace it any way, just to be safe.

I'm also with you on the fungicide thing. I may put down one more application of it, though, to knock back the latest flare up and then move to the cornmeal (or corn gluten meal -- I think I remember hearing that one is supposedly better as a fungicide, but I can't remember which).

You're definitely right about cleaning the mower deck after use; I haven't been doing that. I'm going to follow your advice on that each time I mow from now on.

I'll also follow your advice on the shorter mow for the winter. I normally leave it still kinda tall over the winter, because it stays pretty warm longer and doesn't get as cold. But, after thinking about some more, the ground stays moist longer with dew, colder temperatures, and the freeze/thaw cycle in full effect. This moisture helps the fungus.

Curiously, one thing I'm noticing with this last outbreak is that it looks like all of the seeds that fell into the aeration holes at planting time are resilient to the fungus, as they form a very distinct, spotted pattern of green amidst the destruction. Thanks, again.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 12:11PM
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