Fusarium Blight on Lawns

Fusarium blight is a lawn disease that affects cool season grasses such as bluegrass, tall fescue and bentgrass. It occasionally attacks warm season grasses as well and strikes when lawns are under drought stress during hot, humid conditions. Fusarium roseum and Fusarium tricinctum are the common fungi that cause Fusarium blight.

Fusarium blightFusarium Blight Symptoms
Initially, grasses affected by Fusarium blight display light green patches that are 2- to 6-inches in diameter. The shape of the affected areas may appear as circular patches,  crescents or elongated streaks. At high temperatures, the patches quickly change from light green to reddish brown, then tan and finally to straw-colored.

At this stage the disease displays symptoms characteristic of a doughnut-shaped area up to 3 feet in diameter. It displays a pattern that resembles a “frog-eye” – with healthy grass in the center of the diseased area. When conditions of high humidity and high temperature persist for an extended time, these diseased areas can multiply and may overlap. As a result, blight may appear to have taken over an entire area of turf. It is important to control fusarium blight before the disease progresses, when the grass dies as the crown and root tissues are destroyed.

Excessive watering creates conditions more favorable for the fungi . Also, high nitrogen levels favor fusarium blight when there are greater accumulations of thatch.

Fusarium Blight Control
Planting mixtures of bluegrass with perennial ryegrass can prevent Fusarium blight in areas of bluegrass. Otherwise, a program to control thatch together with a fungicide like ZeroTol or ZeroTol RTS (Ready-to-Spray), that is specifically labelled for Fusarium control is essential for effective control of fusarium blight.

Control Fusarium Including Variations such as Oxysporum, Gramminearum and Solani

Fusarium is a fungus widely distributed through soil and associated with a variety of plants. While some variations of Fusarium are harmless, others can disease plants and even produce mycotoxins that may affect human and animal health if they enter the food chain.

Hosts of Fusarium Oxysporum include potato, tomato, banana, sugarcane, bean, zinnia, pansy and baby’s breath plants. Fusarium Graminearum often affects wheat, barley, oats and other small grain and corn crops. The most common strain, Fusarium Solani, can be found in rice, bean and soybean plants.

Signs and Symptoms

Fusarium Oxysporum causes vascular wilt, yellowing, root rot and dampening off in affected plants. Signs of infection include downward dropping of older leaves, wilting, stunting and defoliation. It can eventually lead to the death of entire plants.

Fusarium Graminearum causes headblight, a devasting disease that causes kernels to shrivel and die. It’s spores are forcibly discharged and can germinate within six hours upon landing on a plant’s surface. The disease can overwinter and reinfect plants during the next growing season.

Fusarium Solani, also known as “sudden death syndrome” usually appears after flowering and during pod fill. It begins displaying as small, reddish spots on leaves. When it is not caught quickly it spreads and causes roots to rot.

A common thread amongst variations of Fusarium is that the fungi often thrive in cool, wet weather.

Disease Management

While no techniques are certain to ward off infection without fail, there are options available to prevent and control Fusarium. Best practices such as using more resistant varieties of crops and increasing soil drainage will reduce incidents of disease.

Furthermore, use of an environmentally safe and biodegradeable product like TerraClean can be effective to control Fusarium. It’s organic acids will penetrate soil and eradicate disease on contact.

Fungal infections like Fusarium can spread quickly and result in widespread harm to plants, animals and humans. Considering that blight caused by Fusarium graminearum resulted in an estimated $3 billion in losses of American barley and wheat crops between 1991 and 1996, regular checks, prevention and treatment methods are highly recommended.

Is Fusarium a Very Real Threat to Your Crops?

Fusarium fungi occur commonly in soil and on plants.  While most Fusarium fungi are harmless, some can cause devastating losses to a wide variety of crops including banana, coca, barley, wheat, rye, oats, corn, tomatoes, canary seed and forage grasses.  For instance, the Fusarium graminearum species caused blight resulting in an estimated $3 billion in total losses of US barley and wheat crops between 1991 and 1996.  Furthermore, Fusarium oxysporum, or Panama disease, infects over 100 species of plants and is a huge threat to the banana industry worldwide.