|Dollar spot is a fungus that can wreak havoc|
on poorly maintained putting greens.
Each fungal disease has a very specific range of environmental conditions that it requires to thrive. These conditions often aren't conductive to the growth of healthy turf. Shade, moisture or drought stress, compaction, lack of air in the soil, excess or lack of fertility, and otherwise unhealthy turf lead to disease. In the summer we have almost total control over all of these conditions.
If we are making preventative fungicide applications we aren't seeing the active disease. The poor growing conditions are still there but we are covering up our poor management with fungicides. This active disease tells us a lot about what our turf is experiencing.
|Yellow patch usually doesn't harm the turf|
but it can tell you what could be done better!
We need to change the way we think about pests on turfgrass. I see the disease on my turf as my most valuable tool for maintaining healthy turfgrass. By spraying preventatives I am basically throwing away my most valuable tool as a turf manager.
When I use less chemicals on my greens I have less surprises. Covering up the poor conditions of your turfgrass with chemicals will only make the infection worse and more severe when the chemicals wear off. If you have no chemicals on your turf the initial infection will be less sever because the environmental conditions on your turf don't change that rapidly. Compaction slowly builds, drought doesn't happen overnight, irrigation systems don't over-water, trees don't decide to shade your turf on a whim, thatch doesn't appear in a week, layering in your soil happens over years, etc.
|Early sign of Fusarium on putting greens. This|
particular infection took a month to cause
significant damage that would warrant a
corrective fugicide application
Here's my challenge to everyone. Let the disease and pests on your course tell you what's wrong. Don't kill them, use them to make your grass better!