Unusual Weather: Expect the Unexpected
Very few things about Oklahoma weather are consistent, but a hot dry August is usually one of those things we can count on. That has certainly not been the case this year. While the cool, wet month has been a refreshing surprise, there is one down side to this weather; look for an increasing probability for fungal diseases to crop up and attack our favorite plants.
When we are talking about garden and landscape plantings, the term fungal diseases and organisms is a general term that can help explain a variety of maladies, some of which are serious plant pest and some are no more than an interesting novelty. Examples include some of the common spring problems we normally see such as powdery mildew, leaf spots, wilts and rusts. All these organisms thrive on excess water and humid conditions which allow them to reproduce freely.
Just because a plant has a fungal disease present does not necessarily mean you need to treat for it. However, in some cases you many want or need to. Look for all-purpose fungicides. These can be sulfur or copper based as well as synthetic. While we always caution you to read the label before applying any pesticide, this is especially true if the target plant is a food crop. Many fungicides ARE NOT labeled for human consumption.
While they may not seem to have anything in common with this group of diseases, mushrooms fall into the same broad category. Don’t be surprised to see mushrooms or other fungal growths popping up in all parts of your landscape. The easiest way to eliminate unwanted mushrooms is to just rake or otherwise disrupt the soil surface.
Turfgrass is an area where these diseases can be especially noticeable, thanks to the heavy morning dew. While diseases attacking bermudagrass are not anything to be concerned about, tall fescue or other cool season lawns can suffer large amounts of damage. Take extra care through this period to mow only when the turfgrass is dry to the touch as this will help limit disease spread.
A final note about turfgrass. If you happen to be a golfer, you should know this is a very difficult weather pattern in which to keep bent grass putting greens alive and healthy. Be very patient as your favorite golf course works very hard to keep their greens looking good over the next few weeks.
Keith Reed is the Horticulture Educator in the Payne County Extension OSU Extension office. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 405-747-8320, or stop by the Payne County Extension Office at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.
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