Turfgrass species composition, resistance mechanisms, and management strategy impacts on brown patch incidence and weed encroachment

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Virginia Tech


Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) has great utility as a low maintenance turfgrass in the northern and transition zone regions of the United States. However, it is difficult to successfully maintain tall fescue of high quality over consecutive summers because of its susceptibility to the fungal pathogen Rhizoctonia solani, which causes the disease brown patch. Not only is brown patch aesthetically unpleasing in a stand of tall fescue but it can also thin out the turf and allow for the encroachment of undesirable weedy species. Cultivar selection, cultural practices, mixing turf species and timing of pesticide applications all can impact the epidemiology of brown patch in tall fescue. Research was conducted in tall fescue to quantify chitinase activity in different cultivars, elucidate the impact of mowing height and nitrogen fertility on brown patch and bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon L.) encroachment, to evaluate seeding mixtures of tall fescue with hybrid bluegrass (Poa pratensis x Poa arachnifera) on diseases and weeds as well as measuring the impact of the herbicide bispyribac-sodium on brown patch. Chitinase activity was greater in the tall fescue cultivar that was less susceptible to brown patch. In the mowing-fertility studies, cutting tall fescue at 10 cm generally reduced brown patch and bermudagrass encroachment compared to 6 cm. Mixing hybrid bluegrass with tall fescue reduced disease and weed species infestations compared to tall fescue alone. Applying bispyribac-sodium earlier in April resulted in less brown patch and better weed control compared to application in May. Based on this research brown patch severity and subsequent weed species infestations can be reduced by selecting a tall fescue cultivar with a high basal level of chitinase, mowing it at 10 cm and mixing it with a hybrid bluegrass cultivar.



brown patch, Tall Fescue, weed control, turf grass disease, chitinase, herbicide