What is Ascochyta Leaf Blight of Turf?

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Is your lawn suffering from aschocyta leaf blight?

Just like people, your lawn gets sick every now and then. What would be a summer flu to humans is Ascochyta leaf blight to grass. Because you can’t very well uproot your lawn and take it in to its family physician, we’re going to strap on the stethoscope and be the landscaping doctors for a few minutes. This is what we can tell you about Ascochyta and what you can do about it:

Typical Patients
Ascochyta affects Kentucky bluegrass and sometimes tall rescue and perennial ryegrass during the summer.

The Cause
Although it is unclear exactly where Ascochyta fungus comes from, this condition occurs during hot, droughty periods that were preceded by cool, rainy conditions. Dull mower blades also contribute to the disease.

photo via osu.edu

The Symptoms
This condition is characterized by the quick expansion of oddly-shaped, straw-colored patches with healthy leaves interspersed within the patch. Leaves that are infected have a bleached tip dieback that extends about one-third to halfway down the leaf blade. Another diagnostic feature is tiny yellow to dark brown, flask-shaped fungal fruiting bodies in diseased leaf tissue.

Leaf blight of turf
photo via colostate.edu

Nasty Condition Details
This is where it gets a little gross. The Ascochyta fungus has a bunch of spores that ooze out during wet weather, irrigation, mowing or other activities. These spores are virtually drought-resistant and immune to extreme temperatures.

The Cure
Some chicken noodle soup and antibiotics won’t do the trick here. In order to rid your grass of Ascochyta, maximize water intake through yearly aerification and keep your mower blades sharp. Avoid mowing when the grass is wet, and during Ascochyta outbreaks, reduce mowing frequency and increase mowing height. Furthermore, avoid a lot of nitrogen fertilizer and make sure water is being distributed evenly to the grass.

Take a deep breath, your lawn is going to make it. If you follow these precautions, your yard will be healthy in no time.

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