KTRH GardenLine Newsletter
Oct. 13, 2011 - Issue #233
Here's Randy's Weekly KTRH GardenLine Tip:
Brownpatch Blows Up Overnight!
One of the best things about the drought is that it kept the fungal disease brownpatch at bay.
But you have to admit, I was sort of prophetic near the end of Sunday's show. Without having seen any long-range (one week, for me) forecasts prior to the show's final hour, I was wondering aloud whether or not the temperatures were going to be just right to blow up brownpatch.
My curiosity crystallized after Sunday's excessive rain, and a quick look at the forecast for the week showed it plain as day: temperatures in the dreaded 80-60 split. That means daytime highs in the 80s and overnight lows in the 60s. I woke up Monday morning even more curious, drove around my subdivision, and BOOM — there it is. Crop circles galore! AKA: brownpatch.
I wish I could have sent this message out Monday evening, but unfortunately these emails are scheduled to go out on Thursdays. Still, it's never too late to do the right thing. If you are prone to brownpatch, check your lawn for small yellow splotches or distinct circles. If you see them, you will need to do your treatment right now. If you don't spot signs of a flare-up, keep looking every day or two, because these temperatures combined with excessive moisture will engage (or enrage, if you think about it) brownpatch.
To see exactly what brownpatch looks like, check out the brownpatch tip sheet we updated last year. You'll also see all the different treatments we've recommended over the years. But be aware that the number one listed control, PCNB (pentachloranitrobenzine), is no longer available. I always considered it the best synthetic control of all the brownpatch fungicides, but the EPA took it off the market. I didn't agree with that move, and while there is a small chance it could get reinstated, we need to move forward as if it never will be. If you still have unopened bags of products like Nitro-Phos Total Brownpatch Control (PNCP) use them. You will not find any at retail garden centers today.
So, what replaces the PCNB? In my opinion, nothing! Nitro-Phos Turf and Ornamental Fungicide is a myclobutanil-based alternative, and is somewhat effect. Greenlight has a granular product called Fung Away and Fertilome has one that just says "myclobutanil." But if you see the flare-ups early enough, and you want to stop it in its tracks, in my opinion you have to use liquid systemic fungicides like Infuse by Bonide, Honor Guard by Martins, or Fertilome's Liquid Systemic Fungicide. (Or any other systemic with propiconizole or "PPZ.")
Some companies make a granular version of PPZ, but liquid is still better. Many full-service garden centers also know this as Banner-based fungicide. The catch is that you have to use it every three weeks or 21 days, as well as immediately after a soaking rain.
What about any "organic" treatments? There's not much empirical research on organics, but there are tons of anecdotal stories from those trying to market "organic" alternatives. For example, I've seen lots of research from Iowa showing the efficacy of corn meal, but I have never seen parallel research with the same results in Houston or Southeast Texas. But here's a list and my take on whether or not they work on brownpatch.
So, what to do, what to do, what to do?
- Actinovate (beneficial bacteria) - Yes, but only as a contact control, not as a preventive. Be ready for "sticker shock."
- Corn Meal - Maybe. I get more reports that it doesn't work in our climate, than I get reports that it's a great fungicide alternative. Positive research results always seems to come from northern climates. Make sure it's horticultural corn meal, not the food-grade stuff from the grocery store.
- Neem Oil - Not effective on brownpatch at all.
- Garlic Oil - A qualified yes (It tends to smell too bad for the average homeowner, but the odor does dissipate.)
- Compost - Yes, but it also extracts it out, like a medicine, and makes it seem like you made it worse.
First, if you have been going "all organic" for the past year, stay away from any synthetic fungicide ... stick to the actinovate, corn meal or garlic oil. (If you can handle the smell.) A synthetic fungicide on all those beneficial bacteria and microbes that came from an all-organic program is a major no-no! It does not discern good from bad bacteria. Don't take advice from anyone who hasn't researched their product along the Gulf Coast. If it works in Iowa, chances are it will never work 90 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. They simply don't have our humidity and temperature spreads up north, and those are the ultimate energy source for brownpatch.
By the way, if you have any hint of Take All Patch as well, you might as well start the compost treatment as we recommend anyway, since it can take care of both maladies.
If you choose to use a synthetic fungicide, be sure to treat every three weeks so you don't see a flare up. If we do start getting low temperatures in the 40s (don't laugh, it could happen), I've seen case after case in my consulting business where someone waited 30 days or more between treatments and got a huge flare-up of brownpatch between days 22 and 30.
Finally, if you don't see any kind flare-up at all, there is no need to do any treatment. But if you feel the need to do something, the one "chicken soup" treatment could be horticultural corn meal.
And one final thought: If you think going all-organic is the answer to eliminating brownpatch, it may well be ... but only two or three years into an all-organic lawn care/fertilization program. If you just started an all-organic program, you're still likely to get brownpatch for the next season or so.
Last Sunday Book Signing:
Central Ace Hardware, 3714 Avenue I, Rosenberg
We've been doing Sunday book signings at Ace Hardware stores since the book came out in February. This Sunday is the last one on the schedule. That doesn't mean we won't have any more, it just means that we don't have any lined up right now for a Saturday or Sunday in November or December.
And since this is the last scheduled Sunday book signing, you need to come see me 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in Rosenberg at the Central Ace Hardware on Avenue I.
If you're looking for incentive — other than bringing me your questions in person — here are a couple of great ones. First, they will be offering an exceptional deal on Nitro-Phos Three Step. It starts with the Fall Special at a ridiculously low $19.99 a bag. They also have super specials on pre-emergent herbicide with Barricade and Turf and Ornamental Fungicide. As a matter of "full disclosure," that deal is good at all of the participating Ace Hardware stores in the Greater Houston Area Retailer Group.
Need more incentive? My book 1001 GardenLine Questions will be on sale for $11.99. And consider everything I told you above about brownpatch controls — I'll reimburse (sort of) the first 20 people who buy two or more books with a pint of Infuse (PPZ) fungicide, which retails for as much as $19.
Finally, imagine this in my best radio voice: But Wait There's More! I've got two bags of the brand-new Sweet Green from Nitro-Phos to give away in a drawing at the end of the event. You don't need to be present to win, but you can only register to win during the two hours I'll be at the store.
Randy Lemmon's GardenLine is heard 6-10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays,
exclusively on NewsRadio 740 KTRH.
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