Recent Turf Advisory Service visits in the Southeast Region found two unwanted turfgrass pests. It sure took us by surprise to see these new pests in North Carolina and Georgia.
The first pest was a fungus that commonly occurs on bermudagrass, called spring dead spot (SDS). An unusually high number of outbreaks occurred this year on bermudagrass tees, fairways, and roughs. However, the surprise was to see this disease on zoysiagrass fairways in Georgia. Spring dead spot was confirmed by Dr. Lane Tredway at North Carolina State University and Dr. Lee Burpee at the University of Georgia, Griffin Station, on Diamond zoysiagrass fairway turf in the Atlanta area from samples submitted by the superintendent. Dr. Tredway also visited the site and confirmed the diagnosis. He reports that he has annually observed spring dead spot on zoysia since 2002 in North Carolina. However, the SDS observed in the past was on Zoysia japonica types -- El Toro and Empire. This instance was the first case ever reported on a Zoysia matrella variety.
SDS on zoysiagrass is caused by the same fungus that infects the bermudagrass, Ophiosphaerella korrae. The small circular patches should heal over the next few weeks on the Diamond variety. No doubt the patches were smaller and not as widespread as usually happens with bermudagrass. However, the zoysiagrass does recover at a much slower rate than bermudagrass, so the golfers will see these patches for a few more weeks. This was the first instance that the SDS was diagnosed at this particular golf course since it was planted three years ago.
Another shocker happened in the Western Carolina Mountains at an elevation of 4,000 feet. The annual bluegrass weevil, often called the Hyperodes weevil, was observed feeding on Poa annua adjacent to a tee. This insect pest has been identified in 22 states, but this was perhaps one of the first confirmations in North Carolina. It appears that the larvae were feeding on the crown and stems of the Poa annua, and, with the first hot weather, the plant collapsed from this stress.
Our travels this spring are well underway and we are making many interesting observations. Stay tuned for more details on our upcoming travels in the Southeast Region.