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Mystery Disease/Die off

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by pema, Jul 23, 2008.

  1. pema

    pema LawnSite Member
    Messages: 54

    I need help with this one. In 11 years of lawn care I have never seen this kind of devastation.

    Customer has been with me for 3 years. I treat (Fert/weed/insect/Disease) 2 adjacent properties and last treated these lawns 2-1/2 weeks ago. During my last visit lawn was Lush and Green. Customer called 2 nights ago and said his front lawn was dying.... I immediately drove to property and expected to see some small patches of summer disease and stress but was stunned to see that a large portion of the front lawn was "yellow". The devastation was more advanced toward the street end of the yard and as you moved back toward the house the pattern of yellow grass was clearly limited to the Tire marks of the mower. ( customer uses a mowing service).

    I could see no clear connection to any lawn disease. The back yard is more shady and had no evidence of damage, further the neighbors lawns I treat were fine as well.

    Is it possible that the mower was contaminated with some kind of non selective herbicide? The discoloration looks just like someone sprayed lawn with round up.

    This would explain the speed of the kill. Otherwise I am at a total loss for an explanation.

    The front lawn is in full sun and the customer (against my advice) over-waters the lawn.

  2. Real Green

    Real Green LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 389

    I have had a situation more than once where a lawn mowing company has had their non selective herbicide (used for fence lines and in the landscape beds) leak or spill during transportation or while mixing on site and get on the tires of the mower. Not saying this is what happened to you, but just wanted to share my experience that is similar to yours. Hope it gets worked out. Take care.
  3. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    You should take a sample and find your local extention service they may be able to identify it right away. Is this new grass by any chance.

    The lawn services can carry fungal disease from one site to another very easily I would call the lawn service and ask if they are having this issue anywhere else, I would call as a concerned professional and tell them if you can work together to find out what is going on it would best for all.

    If the turf dies off they are not going to be able to charge for mowing for the rest of the year, if it is happening on multiple sites it could put a halt to his business of mowing for the year
  4. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    Based on what you said.... "It looks like someone sprayed the lawn with Roundup..." that may well be what happened.

    If someone vandalized the lawn at night, and the mowing crew showed up while the grass still had some dew on it....

    You said it was the worst near the street. Nothing in the backyard. Sure sounds like vandalism to me. I woukld ask the customer if there is some fued going on with a neighbor. I have a friend who saw this happen to one of his accounts. Incredibly, Tru Green told the guy it was a gasoline spill. The damage was limited to an "over the fence" Roundup spraying, and there is a history of slashed tires, etc.
  5. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,717

    Could be the common mystery disease sometimes called "Heat Tracks". The mowing people are all too familiar with this problem. Happens when grass is mowed when it is wilting from drought. True cause is not well-understood. Purdue has some great pictures of this--not sure I can find them. This site has some great pics too--not sure I can find them.

    If it is Roundup on tires, it should be less with each revolution of tire, (like when you run over wet paint on the double yellow line). If this is the problem it recovers in about 2 weeks.

    Found it here is Purdue info.
  6. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    Pretty much exactly what I was just going to post!

    You say the guy waters plenty, but I wonder if the sprinklers didn't get shut off for a few days for whatever reason, lawn browns from lack of the usual water, and then the lawn guys leave tracks in the grass. I see it all the time here too. Best way to eliminate the problem is to be able to irrigate as soon as possible after running the mower over the browned turf. Usually within a few hours at least. I've found that I can get by with no tracks if I do this. Of course I need control of the sprinkler controler to do this, and I don't have that luxury on every lawn.

    If this IS the problem the turf WILL recover. Water, water, water.
  7. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    Lawn is over watered? What are the night time temps/humidity levels?
    Sounds like Pythium to me - I have seen it kill a C3 putting green in literally four hours.
  8. mngrassguy

    mngrassguy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,167

    Gas spill would do it too. Easy to find out. Stick your nose in the turf and inhale.
  9. bug-guy

    bug-guy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,029

    i have seen lawns so severely stressed that the heat from the mower would burn the lawn
    if these conditions exist that would explain it happening in sunny areas
  10. Frank Fescue

    Frank Fescue LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 713

    really tough to diagnose without pictures. there seems to be 100 different reasons for "yellow"

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