A return to more normal autumn conditions has seen a surge in risk of Fusarium Patch infection breaking out, especially across western England, Ireland and most of Scotland. Cooling temperatures and increasing surface moisture on greens create ideal conditions for the Fusarium pathogen to develop from where it’s been lurking in the thatch, warns Syngenta Technical Manager, Dr Simon Watson.
He urges greenkeepers and turf managers to be extra vigilant for conditions conducive to disease, and to target pathogen build up before it has chance to damage playing surface quality. “Most golf courses are looking in incredibly good condition this autumn. Targeting disease spores now, as the risk is rising, gives the real chance to avoid early damage and maintain player satisfaction.”
He highlights that this is the first autumn where greenkeepers can use the new contact+ fungicide, Medallion TL, to target spores in the thatch and on the leaf surface, thus reducing the potential risk of infection. Dr Watson believes this early intervention when risk is rising could have beneficial legacy right through the winter.
“Turf managers’ experience with Medallion TL in user trials has shown exceptional long-lasting results, even under very challenging high risk conditions. Furthermore, reducing the level of Fusarium pathogen in thatch and soil surface now will limit its further development and build-up as the season progresses, ensuring ITM measures and any future treatments can be more effective,” he advises.
Stowmarket Golf Club Head Greenkeeper, Matthew Gill, was one of the first Medallion TL trialists last winter. Applied just three days ahead of a blanket of snow cover across the course, he reported the treated areas remained completely clean, whilst Fusarium disease continued to develop beneath the snow on untreated greens.
“I will definitely use Medallion TL again – but would use it more as a preventative, due to its longevity compared to other contacts,” he added.
STRI Head of Turf Protection, Dr Ruth Mann warns mild, wet autumnal mornings, when the soil is still warm and the air cooler, will herald the beginning of Fusarium Patch season.
“When weather conditions are suitable for disease, outbreaks can sometimes flare up before turf managers have time to take any action, resulting in damage that may take weeks or months to repair,” she said. “This is because the pathogens that cause turf disease survive on organic matter in the root zone and will infect turf when conducive weather conditions occur . In some cases the pathogen will be growing and proliferating in the turf base before we see the symptoms of the disease on the surface.”
Dr Mann advises that using Integrated Turf Management (ITM) to create an environment less favourable to the pathogens can reduce their ability to grow rapidly and infect the grass plants when weather conditions become favourable.
Furthermore, she reports research has shown fungicide applications can be effective in reducing the inoculum of certain diseases. “On courses with continual history disease, applying an appropriate fungicide when the risk of infection is high but before we see symptoms – may allow more effective pathogen control whilst maintaining turf quality.”
GreenCast sees Fusarium risk rising
The Syngenta turf management website, GreenCast, has identified the increasing risk of Fusarium infection over recent weeks, reports Dr Simon Watson. He highlights the free five-day disease forecasts will help greenkeepers and turf managers identify local risks, and time their fungicide applications more effectively.
“Coupled with the website’s local weather forecasts and a prediction of opportunities for spray applications, they can now be far more pro-active about their decision making. The wealth of information available on GreenCast is an essential part of delivering better turf, which is integral to enhancing the playing experience,” he added.