Strategies to Lower the Risk of Anthracnose
It is amazing how temperatures just slightly above freezing can make you realize how tough our winter months can be. Hopefully, your turf is as ready for warmer temperatures as I am. Although you will be busy with spring cleanup in the next few weeks, now is the time to start thinking about those first applications to your turf.
With the cool, wet conditions typical of spring weather comes the pressure for anthracnose foliar blight. This is a problem that can persist throughout the year and develop into basal rot. Many factors contribute to anthracnose pressure, but by following these steps, you can help lower the risk of fighting this disease throughout the year.
Monitor Your Height of Cut
When the weather breaks, try to get a cut on your close-mowed turf. Be mindful that although the grass has been in a dormant state for many months, it has continued to grow. The height of cut on your first few mowings of the season should be higher than where you are maintaining the turf throughout the year. Start with rolling the greens to smooth them out and follow that up with a slightly higher height of cut.
Apply a Spring Cleanup Application to Your Closely-Mowed Turf
Many superintendents apply a contact fungicide to clear up any disease pressure that may have overwintered and is present in the early spring months. An application of ArmorTech IP 238 (Iprodione) at 4-6 oz/M rate is one option to clear up any lingering snow mold, anthracnose, or dollar spot disease pressure this spring. This can also be tank-mixed with a strobilurin fungicide such as Fame SC or ArmorTech Zoxy for any patch disease pressure.
Aerification and a frequent topdressing will help protect the crowns of the plant and allow for protection against anthracnose. Although it may be tough to schedule a core aerification in the spring, a solid tine aerification will allow your greens to dry out quickly and reduce the risk of spring diseases such as anthracnose.
Wetting Agent Applications
A good wetting agent such as Vivax (5 oz/M monthly) or Revolution (6 oz/M monthly) will help reduce surface moisture in the spring and allow the water to be held in the root zone where it needs to be. This will also help reduce scalping and the risk of damaging the crown of the plant. Don’t wait until the heat of the summer to start applying your wetting agent applications.
Get Your Soils Tested for Nematodes
In the past few years, I have seen a few golf courses fighting anthracnose pressure throughout the season. These superintendents have thrown in the “kitchen sink” at fighting anthracnose pressure. A nematode soil test revealed that they had high counts of nematodes, which was causing a reduction in the rooting of their bentgrass and Poa annua. This allows for anthracnose to move into those affected areas.
Feed Your Roots!
With the pressures of having fast greens comes the demand to lower our height of cut to unnatural levels. Remember to incorporate rolling into your daily/weekly routine to help achieve green speed. Also, a solid granular program, along with applying Foliar-Pak Colonise Bio (6 oz/M monthly) will help push root depth and density. This will allow your turf to withstand the rigorous demands that we put on it throughout the season.
These are a few ways that you can help reduce the risk of anthracnose early this season. As always consult with your ATS representative and develop a plan of attack to be prepared. Be proactive and get a jump start to protecting your turf now.