The tail-end of Hurricane Chris has sent shockwaves of thunderstorms and torrential rain across southern and central England today (Friday 13 July). And after it passes over, temperatures are predicted to surge into the mid-30’s for the weekend.
That’s going to be some welcome relief for parched fairways and hard baked pitches. but the combination of suddenly saturated turf surfaces and the stress of high heat are a perfect storm trigger point for Anthracnose attack.
Recent conditions have been incredibly stressful for turf plants – with the extreme heat, bright light and retraction of the root mass through the drought period that will inhibit recovery.
We are well aware that stress relief is one of the best routes to minimise the risk of Anthracnose breaking out and limiting its potential for damage to spread. In most seasons ensuring adequate nutrition, maybe easing off cutting height, where possible, or alternating mowing and rolling, along with keeping the surface dry are all effective strategies – which I’d highlighted in a Greenkeeper International magazine Turf Science Insight this month.
However this season has been anything but normal, and the cultural stress relief opportunities on turf that has frazzled in the heat have had little effect.
If you’ve gone through this very difficult period with any high levels of stress on your greens then Anthracnose is a very real risk. So, if you think the conditions are have been conducive to disease infection, a preventative fungicide treatment, most likely with Banner Maxx or Headway, is going to be a great strategy.
If you’re already seeing some symptoms of Anthracnose then whilst an application may no longer be “preventative” it will still show better results than leaving it and hoping for the best. It’s been an incredibly stressful period and those of you who’ve managed to get to this point in good condition I congratulate you; for those that have struggled, give yourself every chance of healthy turf for the rest of the season.
One further thought, looking at turf health and implications for later in the season, is that root length and density is likely to have burnt up on the heat and dry as plants utilised their carbohydrate reserves to survive. It’s a phenomenon that is quite typical of the summer cycle, but it’s come early and particularly severe this year.
Those who have eased off Primo Maxx programmes whilst there has been little or no growth, should consider getting plants back in regulation as soon as possible when growth restarts – to encourage plants to replenish energy into the roots and rebuild reserves as quickly as possible.
That also means ensuring they have sufficient nutrition, but take into account nutrients applied earlier and not yet utilised in the dry soils, which will be released when it rains.
Let’s make sure that plants are in the best health possible to make use of that and aid a green recovery.