The Evolution of Turf Diseases: Disease influences species use

Identification of turfgrass diseases based on a combination of disease symptoms and pathogen signs is critical for a proper diagnosis. Photo courtesy John Kaminski

By John Kaminski, PhD

By taking a closer look at the influence turfgrass diseases have had on management practices, it does not take long to realize their importance. In the 1970s and 1980s, Kentucky bluegrass was a common turfgrass species on fairways throughout the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. During that period, summer patch (caused by Magnaporthe poae) became such a devastating problem that golf course superintendents had to figure out an alternative species to prevent the exorbitant costs associated with chemical control of the disease. It was time for a species switch.

Perennial ryegrass was a logical solution at the time. The rapid germination rate, dark green colour, and lack of susceptibility to M. poae made it a logical and cost-effective replacement for Kentucky bluegrass. The conversion seemed to be doing well, and even the high-handicap golfers liked the fluffy lies that would allow them to easily sweep the ball off the fairway. Unfortunately, unexpected outbreaks of an uncommon disease in the mid-1990s took its toll on those that switched.

Read the full article: The Evolution of Turf Diseases

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