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Article : The Experts on Fungi ID

The Experts on Fungi ID

By Ashley Harbaugh




Fairy Ring Fungus


Experts in plant disease and pathology—plant pathologists Patricia L. Sanders, Lane Tredway, and Cornell University’s Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic—discuss different fungi with pointers to help you recognize fungal problems occurring on turf areas, and offer methods of preventing them from returning.

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Fairy Ring Fungus

Fairy ring fungus starts as a spore in the soil and then spreads throughout the grass, feeding on the organic matter in the soil. Fairy ring fungus can show up as a circular or semi-circular band of mushroom growths in the grass, rings of dark green grass, or rings of dead grass. If the symptoms are not all over the lawn, water and fertilizer can mask the fungus by greening up the rest of the lawn, and the mushrooms can be raked off. Aerating and drenching the soil with fungicide can help treat fairy ring fungus, but according to plant pathologist Patricia L. Sanders, these methods do not always work. In some cases, once a grass area is killed by the fairy ring fungus, nothing will grow back.






Necrotic Ring Spot


Necrotic Ring Spot

This fungal disease appears as circular or ring-shaped patches of dead grass surrounding tufts of healthy, green grass. Leaf lesions can also occur and are variable in size, shape, and color. The Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic at Cornell University says that necrotic ring spot can cause rot in the plant’s roots, making the recovery of infected patches a slow process. This disease is more prevalent when the weather is cool, such as in late spring and early autumn, but symptoms can become more severe in drought conditions. Irrigation during periods of drought stress and mowing lawns at two inches or higher can help prevent this disease.






Brown Patch


Brown Patch

Brown patch disease symptoms include leaf color change from healthy green to tan-brown with the leaves often turning a reddish color as they die. This reddish color is an early symptom that may not be seen, and only leaf death is reported. The dead grass generally appears in rings or circular patches, but it can also show as streaks or incomplete rings. Brown patch most commonly occurs in the summer during rainy, humid weather, but the fungus can remain in the soil for years. Dr. Lane Tredway, associate professor of plant pathology at North Carolina State University, says that good drainage, adequate nitrogen levels, and removal of dew on grass blades help reduce brown patch.






Rust


Rust

Rust first appears as light yellow flecks on the infected plant’s leaves and then develops into reddish-brown or orange pustules. These pustules leave a red powder (the millions of tiny spores of the fungus) on whatever surface they brush against. The Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic says that severe infections of turfgrass by rust makes the grass thin and discolored, and can lead to turf death. Rust occurs primarily during late summer or early fall. Mowing regularly, avoiding evening watering, and proper irrigation during drought stress are helpful toward preventing rust symptoms.






Slime Mold


Slime Mold

Slime molds are initially slimy but mature to a powdery stage when spores are produced. They vary in color from black to powdery gray, pink, yellow or orange and usually occur in warm, wet weather. This fungus obtains nutrients from dead, organic matter in soil and thatch, so it does not cause any specific injury to plants except for the slimy coating on the plant’s surface. But according to the Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic, the slimy coating may harm plants by shading or covering them. Slime molds can be easily removed either by hosing or raking the slime growths away.






Powdery Mildew


Powdery Mildew

The powdery mildew fungus appears on infected grass as a white-to-gray dusty coating, most commonly occurring from July to September and during periods of cool, moist weather. The powder, a mixture of the fungus’s mycelium and spores, grows over the surface of the plant’s leaves and absorbs nutrients until the leaves dry up and die. Patricia Sanders says that severe powdery mildew infections on turfgrass can make entire portions of turf appear dull white instead of green. Powdery mildew can be prevented by avoiding frequent light watering, reducing shade, raising mowing height, and avoiding excess nitrogen fertilizer.

 


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November 23, 2014, 9:32 pm EST

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