Red thread is often a common occurrence on lawns in the cooler and more humid areas of the country.
It can be most severe on slow growing, nitrogen hungry turf grasses such as bluegrasses, fescues, Bermuda grasses, rye grasses and bent grasses.
Related: Types of grasses in northern Illinois
What does Red Thread look like?
The disease first starts out appearing like small water-soaked spots on the leave blades of the turf. As these spots enlarge, the leaf tissue dries out, turning tan in color. The final stage of the disease appears as the fungus forms pink to red masses of threadlike material at the ends of the grass leaf tips.
Related: How Too Much Rain Affects Your Lawn
Infected areas appear in irregular patches ranging in size from two inches to three feet in diameter. Red Thread development is encouraged by temperatures in the 68 to 80 degree Fahrenheit range coupled with rains, heavy dew, and fog. This fungus can be spread to the healthy turf by mowers and other equipment.
How can I minimize red thread disease?
It’s important to note that red thread is a cosmetic disease which does not affect the grass plant at the grown or root-zone levels. In other words, turf will return to its normal state once conditions become less favorable for the disease, and more in favor of turf grass growth.
- Fertilize the affected area of the lawn with an organic-based fertilizer. This will help the lawn area “outgrow” the condition by producing new leaf tissue.
- If needed, watering should be on a weekly basis, soaking the areas for approximately one hour. Allowing the turf to dry out excessively can be very damaging and should be avoided.
- The red thread disease overwinters in thatch so if there is a significant thatch layer in your yard de-thatching can help to reduce future outbreaks. For lawns with an appropriate amount of thatch, a regular schedule of care aeration is recommended to minimize future outbreaks of the disease.
- Seeding the lawn with turfgrass varieties resistant to disease is also an excellent cultural control.