With the Change in Color Comes Rust

Rust is usually associated with slow-growing turfgrass. It is especially severe on drought stressed sites and compacted soils where perennial ryegrass or bluegrass is growing slowly.

Rust, a fungal disease (Puccinia spp.) of turfgrass, has been observed on lawns and sport fields in the central Ohio area. Rust can affect all common turfgrasses. In Ohio it is most common on Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass. Where rust is especially apparent is during late summer and fall, often in association with the changing foliage color.

Rust is especially severe on drought stressed sites and compacted soils where perennial ryegrass or bluegrass is growing slowly. Turgrass symptoms appear as a generally yellow to orange appearance. The symptoms are more evident when the weather is dry. The rust-colored tiny spores of the fungus rub off easily onto shoes, lawn mowers; pet's, fingers, and clothes etc. and can be a nuisance. This occurs because the fungus causes the epidermis of the leaf to rupture and release enormous amounts of spores which are orange/yellow/rusty in color.

If the disease has been a problem in the past most likely it will reoccur year after year. Newly seeded juvenile stands of perennial ryegrass (less than a year old) often have the disease more severely than mature established turfgrass lawns and spots fields. Management Strategies:

Prevention of the disease is important to be successful in control.

* Use blends of more resistant turfgrass cultivars. The National Turf Evaluation Program NTEP has free information on turfgrass cultivar quality & disease tolerance.

* Provide adequate water and fertilizer to keep the grass growing.

* Core aerate the site to improve water and fertilizer use by the plant reduce soil compaction and improve growth and health.

* Fungicides are available for control but often work best as a preventative.

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The Ohio State University Plant Science Online Certificates

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