What Makes It Grow, Makes It Rot

Photo: Lee Miller, University of Missouri, Bugwood.org

by Max Rehfus, Professional Golf Management major

Operating a golf course as a golf professional requires knowledge of current growing conditions of the turfgrass. Although the golf course superintendent manages the playing conditions and quality of the turf, high quality turf conditions are the root of the business.

I picked this article specifically because of the impact Pythium root rot has on the turf quality in the Midwest, including Ohio golf.

Pythium root rot, also known as Pythium Blight, is a fungal disease that affects the roots of bentgrass greens on a golf course. This pathogen infects bentgrass roots during the fall and spring and reduces their ability to absorb water and nutrients from the soil. The disease develops when temperatures are between 55 and 75 in fall winter and spring when moisture levels are high.

Signs of the disease include yellowing or browning of the turf usually in circles or irregular patterns around two feet in diameter. Symptoms begin to show in drought conditions with temperatures above 85. During this hot condition the plant needs to utilize nutrients and water but the disease prevents it.

Pythium root rot can be controlled and prevented using several methods. First, increasing the length of the grass on the putting surface can alleviate stress caused by harsh conditions. Second, frequent aeration and topdressing will keep air and water moving through the soil. Lastly, proper fertilizer and fungicides can increase the health while decreasing the disease on the plant.

The putting green is the most important surface on a golf course. Proper maintenance of the turf can keep the grass healthy and the customers happy. Most people believe that lots of water and sun is the recipe for healthy plants, but in the right conditions, that is what causes them to die.

Max Rehfus is currently a Junior studying Professional Golf Management at The Ohio State University. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree with a Business minor. Once graduated he is looking forward to become an assistant or head golf professional at a private country club.

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North Carolina State > Pythium Root Dysfunction

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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