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Dollar Spot is a fairly common fungus found on lawns in Michigan. We have found Dollar Spot on Kentucky bluegrass, bentgrass, fescue, ryegrass, and even occasionally on zoysiagrass. Dollar Spot fungus can be active anytime from late spring to early fall and we usually see our first outbreaks occur around mid-June. Dollar Spot growth is favored by periods of high humidity, cool nights, and when dew remains on the turfgrass for extended periods.
Signs And Symptoms Of Dollar Spot Fungus
The symptoms of Dollar Spot fungus can vary depending on the turfgrass species it is infecting and the management practices being applied to the turfgrass.
On bentgrass putting greens, which are mowed very low, Dollar Spot will show up as small, circular, straw-colored, sunken patches that are usually less than 2 -  3 inches in diameter. If nothing is done these small patches will coalesce and form large, irregular patches of brown grass that may die back all the way to the soil surface.
On residential lawns, which are usually comprised of taller turfgrass such as Kentucky bluegrass or ryegrass, the symptoms appear as irregularly-shaped, light brown patches of grass that may range from 4 - 6 inches in diameter. If left untreated, these patches of brown grass will also coalesce into larger areas of brown grass.
If you look closely at individual grass blades infected with Dollar Spot fungus you will notice lesions on the grass blades. The perimeter of the lesions will have a reddish-brown margin. As the lesion expands across the entire leaf blade it will take on an hour-glass shape with a reddish-brown margin at the top and bottom of the lesion.
In the early morning, when dew is on the lawn and Dollar Spot fungus is active, you may see a white, cottony growth around the infected areas of the lawn. This is the mycelium of the fungus and it will disappear quickly as the grass blades dry off.
Dollar Spot Lawn Disease
Dollar Spot lawn disease
Photos courtesy of Penn State www.cropsoil.psu.edu
Lifecycle Of Dollar Spot Fungus
Dollar Spot fungus overwinters as dormant mycelium in infected grass plants or as stromata that form on the margins of the lesions from previously infected grass blades. The production of Dollar Spot spores is rare in Michigan and Dollar Spot is usually spread from lawn to lawn on infected grass blades by animals, birds, lawn mowing equipment, people, water, or wind.
Outbreaks of Dollar Spot fungus usually begin when evening temperatures exceed 50°F and the grass blades remain wet for 10 - 12 hours. When these environmental conditions are present Dollar Spot fungus will begin to grow, penetrate the grass blade, and begin the formation of a lesion. If the weather remains favorable for Dollar Spot fungus it will spread to adjacent plants until the characteristic brown patches of grass become evident. Dollar Spot will continue to infect other areas of the lawn until the weather becomes unfavorable for the disease, a fungicide is applied to stop the disease, or cultural practices are initiated to slow the spread of the disease.
We have seen Dollar Spot fungus active in Michigan from as early as late May to as late as the end of October, but the most common time frame to watch for Dollar Spot fungus in Michigan is from mid-June to mid-September. Environmental conditions that favor Dollar Spot fungus are warm, humid days followed by cool evenings that result in heavy dew on the lawn. Dollar Spot fungus can be active when the temperature is anywhere between 50°F and 90°F, but infections most often occur when the temperature is between 60°F and 70°F.
Other conditions that favor the development of Dollar Spot fungus include drought-stressed lawns, excessively irrigated lawns, lawns mowed too low, or lawns with too much thatch. Long periods of wet, overcast weather can also lead to severe outbreaks of Dollar Spot fungus.
Cultural Management Of Dollar Spot Fungus
Most residential lawns are comprised of Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, or fine fescue and over the years several different varieties of these grass species have been cultivated. The various turfgrass varieties that have been developed are resistant to certain diseases, but may be susceptible to other lawn diseases. Having a blend of different grass varieties in your lawn reduces the possibility of one lawn disease causing widespread damage to your lawn. So, when possible if you overseed your lawn, use of blend of different Kentucky bluegrass varieties in sunny areas and use a mixture of Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass. Shady areas should be seeded with different varieties of fine fescue grass seed.
Reduce the amount of time that morning dew remains on the grass blades with early morning irrigation and/or increasing the air flow across the lawn. Avoid frequent, light watering and do not water in the late afternoon or evening.
Periodic yard aeration helps to keep the thatch layer in check. For most residential lawn yard aeration should be done once per year. If lawn diseases are a continual problem, or if you have a high thatch layer, you should have yard aeration done in both the spring and the fall.
Maintain adequate turf fertility. For the cool-season turfgrasses used in Michigan about 4-5 pounds of actual Nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year should be sufficient to maintain a healthy lawn. While over fertilizing your lawn may seem to make it look healthier, it could also make it susceptible to worse lawn diseases such as Brown Patch or Pythium Blight.
Mow your lawn at the recommended height and mow according to the growth rate of the lawn. For the cool-season turfgrasses used in Michigan we suggest maintaining your lawn at a 3 inch height. Also, no more than one-third of the grass blade should be cut off during any one mowing. This means lawn mowing will need to be done more frequently in the spring and fall when the grass is growing at a faster rate. Another important consideration is to keep your lawn mower blades sharp. Disease infection is less likely to occur when the grass blade is cleanly cut off.
Biological Control Of Dollar Spot Fungus
Some research has been done using various biological agents to control Dollar Spot fungus. Disease suppression has been documented with applications of composted plant materials, the bacterium Enterobacter cloacae, the fungus Fusarium heterosporum, turkey litter, sewage sludge, and animal meals. BioJect Spot-Less (Pseudomonas aureofaciens) and EcoGuard (Bacillus licheniformis SB3086) are biological products currently registered for control of Dollar Spot fungus. However, disease suppression with all of these products has only been achieved on lawns with light to moderate infections of Dollar Spot fungus.
Fungicide Control Of Dollar Spot Fungus
Several fungicides are available to suppress or eliminate Dollar Spot fungus from your lawn. These fungicides come in both granular and liquid formulations. Using fungicides to control Dollar Spot fungus should be done in combination with improving cultural practices because not only are fungicide treatments costly, but often more than one treatment is necessary to completely control a disease problem on a lawn.
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Owen Lawn Care provides Lawn, Tree, and Landscape services to the following cities and towns:
Genesee County, Michigan:
● Burton
● Davison
● Flushing
● Goodrich
● Linden
● Otisville
● Clio
● Fenton
● Gaines
● Grand Blanc
● Montrose
● Otter Lake
● Flint
● Genesee
● Lennon
● Mt Morris
● Swartz Creek
Lapeer County, Michigan:
● Almont
● Brown City
● Columbiaville
● Imlay City
● Metamora
● Peck
● Attica
● Clifford
● Dryden
● Lapeer
● North Branch
● Sandusky
● Hadley
● Mayville
● Otter Lake
● Silverwood
Macomb County, Michigan:
● Armada
● Clinton Twp
● Grosse Pointe
● Macomb
● New Haven
● St Clair Shores
● Centerline
● Detroit
● Grosse Pointe Farms
● Ray
● Sterling Heights
● Chesterfield
● Eastpointe
● Grosse Pointe Shores
● Memphis
● Romeo
● Utica
● Clinton
● Fraser
● Grosse Pointe Woods
● Mt Clemens
● Roseville
● Warren
● Harrison Twp
● New Baltimore
● Shelby Twp
● Washington
Oakland County, Michigan:
● Auburn Hills
● Bloomfield Village
● Ferndale
● Leonard
● Orion
● South Lyon
● Berkley
● Clarkston
● Franklin
● Madison Heights
● Ortonville
● Southfield
● Beverly Hills
● Clawson
● Hazel Park
● Milford
● Oxford
● Troy
● Bingham Farms
● Commerce Twp
● Highland
● Novi
● Pleasant Ridge
● Walled Lake
● Birmingham
● Davisburg
● Holly
● Oak Park
● Pontiac
● Waterford
● Bloomfield
● Detroit
● Huntington Woods
● Oakland
● Rochester
● West Bloomfield
● Bloomfield Hills
● Farmington
● Lake Orion
● Oakland Twp
● Rochester Hills
● White Lake
● Farmington Hills
● Lathrup Village
● Orchard Lake
● Royal Oak
● Wixom
St. Clair County, Michigan:
● Algonac
● Casco
● East China
● Harbor Beach
● Lexington
● Peck
● Allenton
● Clay
● Emmett
● Harsens Island
● Marine City
● Port Huron
● Berlin
● Clyde
● Fair Haven
● Jeddo
● Marysville
● Richmond
● Brockway
● Columbus
● Fort Gratiot
● Kimball
● Memphis
● Sandusky
● Capac
● Cottrellville
● Goodells
● Lakeport
● North Street
● St Clair