Improved Strategies for Dollar Spot Suppression Using Ferrous Sulfate
Shelton, Camden Drake
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Dollar spot is one of the most common diseases of warm- and cool-season turfgrass stands and is especially devastating on creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.). The fungus Sclerotinia homoeocarpa degrades the foliage by creating silver, dollar-sized depressions of dead and bleached turf. Frequent fungicide applications and cultural management strategies are required throughout the growing season to prevent or reduce severity of this disease. Previous research has demonstrated that ferrous sulfate applied at 48.8 kg ha-1 suppresses dollar spot epidemics without traditional fungicides. In vitro studies showed 100 to 1,000 mg kg-1 of ferrous sulfate directly suppressed S. homoeocarpa growth of an isolate collected from an established, intensively-maintained creeping bentgrass putting green. Genetic diversity of S. homoeocarpa segregates isolates into two groups; strains generally associated with warm-season and cool-season grasses. It is unknown whether isolates of each group react similarly in the presence of ferrous sulfate. Our research explored use rates of ferrous sulfate required to suppress 50% of dollar spot in the field and in vitro. Ferrous sulfate (heptahydrate 20% Fe, Valudor Products Inc) rates in field trials included 0, 4.88, 24.4, 48.8, and 97.6 kg ha-1. Our results indicate a hyperbolic relationship between ferrous sulfate rate and dollar spot reduction. Using this model, 26.4 kg ha-1 reduced dollar spot incidence by 50%. We concluded that ferrous sulfate suppresses 50% of S. homoeocarpa mycelial growth at between 480 and 720 mg L-1 concentration in 0.25 strength potato dextrose agar in vitro, and fungitoxic activity of ferrous sulfate was dependent primarily on historical fungicide inputs at isolate collection sites. The use of ferrous sulfate may supplement traditional fungicide use. Chlorothalonil is the most common fungicide used to suppress dollar spot in turfgrass. Annual site-use limitations of chlorothalonil often prevent turf managers from achieving acceptable dollar spot control throughout the season. It is not known how ferrous sulfate may contribute to a successful chlorothalonil fungicide program. Therefore, we examined whether ferrous sulfate can be used to minimize chlorothalonil requirements through reducing active ingredient concentrations and extending the longevity, while still maintaining acceptable disease control. Chlorothalonil treatments were applied at 0, 2.28, 4.57, 6.86, and 9.16 kg ai ha-1 (Daconil WeatherStik) across plots treated with and without 48.8 kg ha-1 ferrous sulfate applied bi-weekly. Ferrous sulfate reduced the chlorothalonil rates necessary for 80% disease reduction by 36 to 51% across all trials. Additional studies showed that ferrous sulfate applied with chlorothalonil increased duration of disease control by five days and eliminated two seasonal treatments. Our research expands the guidelines for practical ferrous sulfate usage for dollar spot suppression by elucidating the rate-to-disease relationship and providing best management practices involving admixtures with chlorothalonil.
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