Severe fungal disease infestations in forage grasses are posing problems for growers in southeastern Pennsylvania, eastern Maryland and Delaware, reports Marvin Hall, forage specialist with Penn State University Extension.
“The weather conditions over the last few weeks have created the perfect fungal storm which has overpowered and killed grass in windrows and areas with especially thick forage,” says Hall.
Some growers will likely need to replant the hardest-hit areas. They tended to be high-yielding fields that were ripe for harvest just before a July hotspell.
A possible explanation, he says, is that forage growth was greater than usual because of the wet, cool weather in late June and early July. “The rain delayed harvest so that the forage began to lodge, creating a perfect condition under the forage mat for fungal growth. As soon as the rains let up, the forage was mowed, but the ideal conditions for fungal growth remained under the windrows. The week of very hot temperatures exacerbated the ideal fungal growth conditions.”
Since it’s unlikely that the environmental conditions will repeat again this summer, now would be a good time to reseed dead areas in fields, Hall says.