Hot Weather Brings Brown Patch

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Damp, steamy days seem to be the norm in Burke County these days and with these weather conditions, homeowners can expect a higher than normal incidence of Brown Patch, a common fungal disease of the the lawn. It can be identified by patches of brown turf that suddenly appear in the lawn. Typically, these patches grow larger each day, eventually leaving large areas of the lawn brown and dead.

Brown Patch is a fungal disease and is caused by combining high levels of nitrogen from lawn fertilizer along with hot, humid temperatures. It is recommended that lawns be fertilized early, before mid-March to make sure high nitrogen levels are gone before hot weather gets here. But, sometimes when weather conditions are particularly wet and steamy, even properly fertilized lawns can succumb to this disease.

There are fungicides containing azoxystrobin available to help control the problem but they are only marginally effective and are costly. The best thing Burke homeowners can do is to fertilize early and mow high. Taller turf grass doesn’t seem to be quite as susceptible. Re-seeding in the fall is usually successful but the problem can recur next year.

During June, Brown Patch and grub damage can look similar so it is wise to check the soil just below the surface of the grass for the presence of Japanese beetle and June beetle larvae (white grubs). If large amounts of grubs are discovered, a grub-killing insecticide should be used in the fall to prevent a re-infestation.

Southern lawns are always a challenge and when Mother Nature steps in to mess with us, the challenge becomes even tougher. But, with good growing practices such as proper timing of fertilization and fall over-seeding the lawn can survive.