Over the past few blogs we have been identifying many of the common turf issues that can threaten your lawn.  Today we will be looking at Asochyta leaf blight.  Asochyta leaf blight an infection caused by a variety of fungi.  Many grasses are at risk of this blight but Kentucky bluegrass which is the most common form of turfgrass in the Boise, Idaho area is especially susceptible. 

Leaf blight comes on quickly and causes large brown or bleached looking patches to appear in the lawn.  Though the exact environmental trigger that causes leaf blight is unknown it generally occurs when the weather is alternating between very wet and very dry or when there is frequent irrigation during periods of hot weather.  It can also be found on drought – stressed turf.  Mowing the grass too often, too short, or with dull blades can contribute to the severity of leaf blight by injuring the grass and producing more wounds that are prone to infection.

Leaf blight spreads downward from the tip towards the base.  With a good magnifying glass you can see the minute yellow to dark brown/black flask-shaped spots which are the asexual reproductive structure, or fruiting body, in fungi.  If you do find leaf blight remember that because this fungus doesn’t attach the crowns or roots that it rarely kills the grass so you have no reason to panic.

Unfortunately Asochyta leaf blight is hard to treat with a fungicide but with good lawn practices your turf can recover.  Make sure that you are following good irrigation practices, which include infrequent but deep watering that occurs in the early morning or before noon.   Applying a balanced fertilizer can help strengthen grass but care needs to be taken not to apply too much nitrogen in the spring.  Keep mower blades sharp and mow when the lawn is dry to avoid spreading spores. If you do have blight increase the time between mowing to allow time for grass to heal and cut the grass just slightly shorter (2.5 to 3 inches) so that it doesn’t get too long between mowing. Remember to never remove more than 1/3 of the blade at each cutting.  

It can take several weeks for your turf to recover from an asochyta leaf blight outbreak.  But the good news is that with the right conditions recovery almost always occurs and with cooler temperatures in the fall most cases of leaf blight will disappear allowing for a full recovery from even the most severe cases.

At Organic Solutions! Inc., we can help you implement the right lawn care practices to help prevent and treat outbreaks of Asochyta leaf blight.  Give us a call today for a free estimate on lawn fertilization and mowing packages, 208-884-8986. 

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