Q&A: Turf and Garden Questions Answered

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There were a couple questions that came through the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Caldwell County Center this past week that I’d like to share in hopes of benefiting the masses!

brown patch in lawn

Brown patch is a common disease in fescue and other cool season grasses.

Q: I’ve noticed yellow/brown patches throughout my lawn lately, what causes this?

A: Most likely you are dealing with Brown Patch disease. Cool season grasses, like fescue, are affected by this fungus. Brown patch is most severe during extended periods of hot, humid weather. Lucky for us, citizens of Caldwell county, this is any given day during the summer months.

Grass must be continuously wet for at least 10 to 12 hours for the brown patch fungus to infect. If you water in late afternoon, this prolonged leaf wetness increases disease severity. Brown patch is particularly severe in turf that has been fertilized with excessive nitrogen, as well.

Upon further inspection of these brown patches, you’ll notice that in the center of the patch, the grass blades are green. This is because the turf does eventually recover from the fungus.

There are fungicides labeled for brown patch and they offer effective control. Some things you can do to ensure you aren’t creating a favorable environment for this fungus is to avoid watering after sunrise or in the late afternoon/evening, as this will increase the duration of leaf wetness. Another thing you can avoid is over-fertilizing your lawn with nitrogen.

For more information on Brown Patch and other lawn questions, visit TurfFiles.

Q: Can you ID this pest? It looks like a ladybug but it’s eating my beans!

bean beetle

An adult Mexican bean beetle and its damage.
Credit: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

A: The best description of this pest is to describe it as a copper-colored ladybug. Unlike our ladybug (lady beetle) that are beneficial, this pest is called the Mexican bean beetle and can cause some major damage if allowed.

Like the name suggests, it loves bean leaves but it will also feast on other crops. They eat from the underside of the leaf and quickly devour the leaf leaving only the veins behind, giving the plant a lacey appearance.

Control can be achieved by insecticides. Common insecticides that the homeowner reaches for are probably products containing carbaryl or Sevin. These are effective but are harmful to pollinators. If using carbaryl or Sevin, use a liquid formulation and spray late in the evening. This allows time for the insecticide to dry and form a hard coat, therefore decreasing the chance of harming our beneficial insects.

For answers to your agricultural questions, call the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Caldwell County Center at 828-757-1290 or visit us online anytime at the Caldwell County page.