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Turfgrass Disease ProfilesTurfgrass Disease Profiles
Figure 1Figure 2
owdery mildew is a foliar disease ofKentucky bluegrass and some fescues.Outbreaks can occur in golf courseroughs, athletic fields, professionallandscapes and residential lawns. Thedisease rarely is responsible for anylasting damage to turf. The pathogen(
) is a fungus thatover-winters in dormant turf, or asspecialized survival structures(cleistothecia) in turfgrass leaf litter.
Disease Symptoms andCharacteristics
Powdery mildew is simple to diag-nose. From a distance, affected turfhas a white or light gray appearance(Fig. 1). Close inspection of affectedleaf blades reveals the presence ofsmall (around 1/16 inch in diameter)pustules with masses of white sporesthat may eventually cover the entireleaf (Fig. 2). The spores provide theonly significant means of dispersal ofthe pathogen. Only leaves are infectedand no web-like mycelium is producedon the plant surfaces.Powdery mildew occurs most often on slow growing turf, usually in shaded areas.Pathogen activity is favored by cool cloudy conditions that prevail in spring and fall.Prolonged periods of dew or wet weather are not needed for disease establishment andspread, although periods of high humidity favor disease development. Initial symp-toms normally occur in areas with poor air circulation. Excess nitrogen fertilizer mayincrease risk of infection.
Disease Control Options
Shade tolerant Kentucky bluegrass varieties such as America, Bensun, Eclipse, andGlade tend to be less susceptible to powdery mildew. Over-seeding shaded areas withthese varieties will reduce powdery mildew establishment and spread. Improving aircirculation by careful pruning of trees and shrubs also will help limit mildew develop-ment (and will serve to suppress some mid-summer diseases). Avoiding excesslevels of nitrogen in disease-prone areas also may contribute to a reduction in mildewoutbreaks.
Richard Latin, Professor of Plant Pathology