Autumn Anthracnose Management

I'm seeing and hearing about a lot of Anthracnose rumbling around at the moment. I thought I'd share my thoughts on why we are seeing this now, some clues, what dangers to look out for and best turf management practices if you're in this situation.

Why are we seeing it now?

If we roll the Clocks back about 3 weeks we saw record temperatures with some areas of the country recording temperatures above 34c for six consecutive days. This was immediately followed by thunderstorms, cooler temperatures and longer periods of dew. We had both high temperature stress and increased periods of moisture - the perfect climatic storm.

Couple this with this years challenges of increased play, reduced budgets and lack of prep in the spring. Many of the Turf Managers I talk to are reporting reduced aeration and increased effort to keep playing surfaces at there optimum to ensure they retain as much of the golfing business they can.

Add it all up:

  • Additional rolling
  • Reduced topdressing
  • Climatic perfect storm

Then throw in the desire to reduce nutrition input and fungicide usage and it's no wonder we walk into these traps.

What are the clues that you're pushing things to hard?

  • Yellowing - on closer inspection foliar blight (see below images)
  • Firmer than you'd expect
  • Flooding when you wouldn't expect
  • Weak perimeter cuts (these areas take more wear so will show up first)
  • Weak collars (a sign of excessive rolling or mowing)

What are the dangers?

The danger with these extreme temperatures at this time of the year is that we can quickly move into "Fuz weather" and a weakened and damaged plant is very susceptible, what starts as Foliar Blight Anthracnose can easily evolve into a secondary infection of Microdochium.

If you have this challenge, trying to relieve stress is the key to success. The easiest solutions are to lift cutting heights, ensure fertility programmes are in a sensible place to aid recovery whilst not being excessive.

We are now on the downward turn with growth and whilst we still have a few weeks of good growing conditions they are quickly running out.

Several people I have spoken too have also expressed that they still have some of there delayed big club competitions and are really keen to hold onto great surfaces.

Best Management Practice NOW

This for me is all a recipe for disaster - the damage was done 4 weeks ago and if things have got away from you then take the pressure off now.

  • Lift cutting heights
  • Reduce rolling
  • Skip perimeter cuts
  • Get that nutrient right

A weak plant will get hit, you've got about 3 - 4 weeks to get back on track and you don't want to fall into that next trap.

Whilst a curative fungicide will only ring fence and protect the uninfected plants in this situation if you have been hit hard it's worth considering. It will buy you some time against Microdochium which will give a bit more leeway to get some recovery.

I know you probably have some big events still to come this year but ask yourself - is it better to have slightly slower greens through this period or work them hard and run the risk of that Anthracnose evolving into some serious Microdochium patch issues.

ICL have done a great piece on the causes of Anthracnose recently and its well worth a watch.

BLOG: Remember, don't trade Anthracnose for Fusarium!

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