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Turf Tips Newsletter

Are those spider webs or disease on your lawn?

Are those silky threads spider webs or Sclerotinia homeocarpa that you see early in the morning on your lawn?

Sclerotinia homeocarpa, better known as dollar spot, is a common fungal disease that attacks most warm season turf species, but most severe on bermudagrass and zoysia. It occurs when temperatures are between 50 – 95 degrees with high relative humidity or extended periods of leaf wetness.The disease is most severe when the turf is growing slowly either from entering or leaving dormancy, or from nutritional stress particularly the lack of nitrogen.

The fungus generally appears as small, circular spots about the size of an old silver dollar, thus the name dollar spot, even though these spots can be as large as 2-8 inches in diameter. Early symptoms on individual leaves are chlorotic (yellow) areas that become water-soaked and later turn a bleached straw color.

During early morning hours, when dew is present, you may observe the fungal growth on top of the turf leaf blades that resemble tiny spider webs. Upon close examination, the spider webs will have a hole in the center and the tiny threads will be spun in a circular pattern. The fungal mycelium growth will disappear as the dew dries and the turf leaf blades will begin to turn yellow.

Prevention is the best control of this disease. Try these good cultural practices

1) Maintain adequate soil moisture
2) Provide adequate nutrition, particularly nitrogen
3) Mow regularly and maintain correct mowing height
4) Prevent thatch buildup
5) Water early enough in the day to reduce overnight leaf wetness
6) Apply appropriate fungicides if disease becomes severe.

Published April 24, 2006