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Fungus new sod lawn

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by bwclark, Aug 16, 2005.

  1. bwclark

    bwclark LawnSite Member
    Posts: 22

    I live in the coastal section of N. California, which has mild summer temps of 50F-70F. High humidity along the coast with overcast conditions. Had a local install some imported dwarf tall fescue sod from a farm inland May 3. Looked fine for about one month....watered daily for 3 weeks. Instructions were to fertilize monthly after established. Mid June applied Scotts Super Turf Builder as I was noticing an increase in leaves showing orange/brown tips and overall reduction in dark green color. Took some leaves to the local Dept of Ag. and check under microscope....fungus. Applied granular Bayer Advanced Fungus Control and sprayed with Immunox fungicide on June 20. Noticed other installs of same grass looking the same as mine. Started a weekly spraying of Daconil (Chlorthylonil). Continued to see leaves with orange/brown tips/spots....seemed to be getting worse. Was watering three times weekly/20 minutes each section. Cutting lawn at about 2.5 inches.

    July 26 spread more Bayer fungicide. I continued with the Daconil weekly, but with continued fungus apparently showing destruction. I have now starting in early August, cut the watering to twice weekly and discontinued the Daconil temporarily($$$ - $15/week :angry:

    I would say after three months from the time of install, my new sod lawn is about 25% dead grass intermixed with green grass and another 25% is orange tipped with fungus infection.

    I am lost as to what else to do? I have spent alot on fungicides and the local installer does not know what to do as his other installs have similar problems.
    The problem is uniformily spread throughout the 2000 sqft lawn.

    Anyone else in a similar situation(this is not a high temp/humidity fungus...more a cool temp/humdity problem. I have no other fungicides available to try on this. I cut the grass twice a week with a new Honda HRX. Looks great...nice crewcut type look, but tooooo much brown/orange dead/infected grass.


    Sorry no digital camera so no photos.
  2. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,494

    Are you getting orange on your shoes and/or on your mower? If so, it sounds like rust. If this is the case, back off of all the fungicides. The fungicides may be what is creating the actual damage. This is more common with first full season grasses (don't know how old the sod turf is), but can happen at other times, too. It could also be Red Thread... this can be caused from too much moisture, brought on by too much nitrogen. Get away from the Scotts "super turf builder", because this fert is anything BUT "turf builder". It is junk for what you want to accomplish. Go with something with a higher potassium (last number). The Scotts has analysis' like 38-3-3. This is too much quick release nitrogen - especially compared to the phosphorus and potash. Even if you have to go to a specialty place, like a supply distributer, find youself a ratio that is closer to 5-1-2. Something like 24-5-11 or so. Also, get something with a slow release nitrogen (scu). Atleast 30%, but 50% is better.
    The stuff you are using is stressing that sod out and is probably creating more harm than good.
  3. OrganicBob

    OrganicBob LawnSite Member
    Posts: 73

    I could not agree more!!!!

    Good Advise Runner!

    Try a lower nitro rate like 25
    That potassium will help out your root systems if they haven't succumbed (spell?) to that Fungus. I understand that it gets hot, but watering everyday may be overkill. As my name would imply, I do prefer the organic method. Slower results, but in my opinion the quick fix of high nitrogen fertilizers does a lot more stress harm than good.
  4. bwclark

    bwclark LawnSite Member
    Posts: 22

    Thanks Runner...definitely not rust. Probably more a yellow/organge/brown stage to dead.

    I will try a different fertilizer. The sod is fairly new (installed May 3) but was well fertilized and watered.

    From my research on fungus' is does not appear to be Red Thread either. About one month ago when my grass was longer, I did notice a small area with a spider web like growth(fungus). Very light weight.

    It does NOT get hot here...max 70F in Summer. Only water twice a week.

  5. bwclark

    bwclark LawnSite Member
    Posts: 22

    I may have "rust". Although I really do not see any "rust" on the leaf of the grass, it may be there and I can't really see it.

    This looks very much like what I have:

    Not sure what else I should do except apply more fertilizer; cut low; and avoid over watering?

  6. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    The first step is to get a key on what fungal disease this is since that determines what course to take.

    I hate to disagree with people, but Red Thread - unlike many other fungal diseases - will usually appear on plants deficient in nitrogen. It does favor your Eureka type of climatic conditions, Bob, but it is easily identified.

    The orange yellow postules of rust, which contain the spores, rub off of the leaves. But if what you're seeing is actual leaf discoloration, without external pustules, then you more than likely have another problem.

    Are these patches within the lawn circular, or irregular? And how large of patches are these?

    California also has a number of active turf pests this time of the year. Fungicides obviously will not have an effect on grubs and insects, so it may be wise to definitively rule this out. You may have to "roll back" an area of turf that is partially good and partially damaged and see what is down there. For example, if you find more than one white grub or billbug larva per square foot of turf, then you should use control measures (Univ of Cal).

    My feelings are that this is a fungal disease, but perhaps we should keep an eye down these other avenues as well.
  7. bwclark

    bwclark LawnSite Member
    Posts: 22

    Thanks Critical Care for the thoughts.
    The fungus is uniformily spread throughout the turf. If affects the leaves once they are cut, from the top down in an orange/yellow/brown-dead type of progression.
    I am fairly certain this is not an insect problem as I have not seen any signs except for some young mosquitoes(sprayed with Malathion 50). No observed grubs etc. when the sod was installed in May.

    I sounds more like this:

    "The margin between the diseased tissue and healthy tissue develops an abrupt pinched appearance." I have observed this phenomenon on some leaves.

    I have observed two other lawns that were layed with the same sod as mine about the same time that have the same problems with leaf discoloration and kill rate.

    Another install about 1 1/2 months ago has yet to be cut and the grass is tall and green, but if you look towards the base of the turf you can see the same yellowing/discoloration present.

    This turf came from an inland sod farm this Spring and the fungus was probably present and is now enjoying the high humidity present along the California coast.

    I am watering twice weekly and using Bayer Advanced Fungus Control (systemic). I was using the Daconil weekly after cutting the grass, but did not see much improvement, so have not used it since. Probably spent like $150 on fungicides in the past two months... :(

    I have observed some small cobweb like appearance on the grass at times, so I think that nails its as fungus.

  8. bwclark

    bwclark LawnSite Member
    Posts: 22

    I believe while I have seen some of the above type grass infection characteristics, the most of what I observe is like this photo of Leaf Spot:


    and the site explains it:

    and due to the orange/yellow characteristics is why I mentioned it "looks" like rust, but with no rust.

    Looks like Daconil (Chlorothalonil) should be a good cure, but hasn't done much for me. :dizzy:
  9. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    Unfortunately, it surely does sound as if you're seeing the signs of at least one problem causing fungus, but getting a positive ID on it may be next to impossible. You may be taking all of the correct steps, but because of the nature of the disease you may not observe any improvement in the turf for a long period, if at all.

    There is a very common disease that affects mostly bluegrass lawns in this area called necrotic ring spot. At one time they said there wasn't any control for it, and we would dig up the affected turf, replace it with new sod, and then the new sod would become affected. One thing that was mentioned at the extension service where I worked was that some of these fungi and diseases are already inherent within the soil, and given the right conditions they begin to propagate. That's why cultural control is so important.

    And, I wouldn't expect immediate results from a systemic such as Daconil, however I'd surely favor using it - especially in the late fall before the dormant season... if there is such a season in the Humboldt area.
  10. bwclark

    bwclark LawnSite Member
    Posts: 22

    Well, the Lilly Miller 15-5-10 fertilizer I applied about two weeks ago has resulted in some tremendous dark green thick growth! I also applied the Bayer Advance Fungus control at the same time. But the good news is that no sign of fungus...yet. I just keeps getting thicker and greener...maybe got the fungus beat for now. Some underlying dead grass, but overall it is back to the way it looked about 3 weeks after the install May 3. :cool:

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