Take All Root Rot is a relatively newly discovered turf disease which is becoming more prevalent on lawns in Australia. Buffalo grass was the first lawn type which was discovered to be harbouring this new disease in the early 1990's in the United States, and since this time it has been discovered to be affecting many other lawn types as well.
Take All Root Rot is one of the worst lawn diseases to have for buffalo lawns, as there really is no cure to the disease, only management treatments to keep the lawn in its best health possible so the turf not only looks its best, but also fights the disease on its own so as to stay its healthiest naturally.
Symptoms Of Take All Root Rot In Buffalo Grass
Take All Root Rot, also known as Take All Patch and Take All Disease, will begin displaying itself on a lawn with small patches one or two feet across, and will quickly spread to cover the entire lawn's surface.
The disease is most easily noticeable by the way it will darken and blacken the above ground runners (stolons) of the buffalo grass as these runners are slowly rotted away. In worst affected areas, the lawn owner will discover that the turf itself will often easily lift up and away from the soil underneath.
Fungicide Treatments For Take All Root Rot
Some lawn owners have reported success in curing their lawns from Take All Root Rot by the application of commercial grade fungicides applied by a turf professional, however this is very rare and should never be an expected outcome.
Instead, a fungicide should be considered as one part of a continuing lawn care plan to manage the disease, and increase the health of the lawn to its greatest extent, so that it can outcompete and out-flourish the disease, so that in the end, we have the very best looking lawn under the circumstances.
Management Plans For Take All Root Rot
Managing this buffalo grass disease will require implementing a good year round lawn care program which should be undertaken by all lawn owners at any rate.
Fertilise the lawn regularly throughout the year, using good quality lawn fertilisers with trace elements. There's never any need to over fertilise, as this practice can damage and weaken the lawn more than it actually helps it, so be sure to follow manufacturers recommendations.
Apply a fungicide when the disease looks like it is developing a new outbreak.
Vertimow the lawn and remove thatch whenever required, as this will lessen the ability of the disease to flourish amongst the warm and humid thatch layer of the turf.
Manage the pH levels of the lawn by doing a soil test and adjusting the pH levels as necessary. A pH level of 5.5 to 6.0 will usually keep the lawn healthy, while creating a hostile environment for the turf disease.
Lawn coring is a method of aerating a lawn by using a special machine to remove plugs of turf, thatch and soil from the lawn surface. The process allows masses of healthy oxygen to get to the roots of the buffalo grass, which once again is great for the lawn and hostile to the disease.
A new variation of Take All Root Rot has been recently discovered in Western Australia. It was first found, isolated and identified in vineyards in South West WA where it first infected grapes and then crossed over to turf, including buffalo grass.
Gaeumannomyces graminis is the disease known as Take All, whereas Gaeumannomyces wongoonoo is the new variant.
Wongoonoo appears to display itself producing a lot of straw coloured deterioration in the leaf of the turf, and has been discovered in Perth lawns, however we have no reports of it in the Eastern States at this stage.
Success has been reported in eliminating Wongoonoo by the use of commercially available turf fungicides, namely Banner Fairway
A Final Solution To Take All Root Rot
The final solution of course to rid the turf of Take All Root Rot would of course be to remove the lawn altogether, and plant a new lawn in its place, and one that may be less susceptible to this and other diseases, of which - Zoysia is most usually the best possible choice. If doing this, not only will the entire lawn need to be poisoned first, but should also be dug out, and several inches of the soil below the turf also removed and replaced in the process. This will greatly lessen the likelihood of any new outbreaks of the disease in the future.
Thanks to Todd Layt, breeder of Sapphire Buffalo for his assistance with the information about Wongoonoo disease.