Take-all lawn fungus

nandina(8b)October 14, 2008

Anyone out there dealing with this problem organically? I have done a complete study on Take-all lawn fungus and am familiar with the various suggested methods of control. Does anyone have any real experience with the problem and some words of wisdom?

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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

I might have had a small patch of backyard lost to take all fungus. If anything I've learned, MOVE FAST! Go straight to feed store immediately and get corn meal to apply the entire lawn at the rate of 20lbs per 1000 sqft and spread compost on the infected area. It seemed to work perfectly. It never spread like my lazy neighbor's did. I told him to do all these stuff but he waited nearly a month before he finally did something and the lawn looks bad now.

A product called Actinovate might work better and faster but it's not widely available.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 12:25PM
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Lou, thanks for your answer. I understand this fungus is becoming a problem in Texas, is spreading along the Gulf Coast and was just recently found in Augusta, GA. Easy identification is made by pulling out a clump of dead grass and if the roots are black it is Take-all fungus. The cure appears to be a top dressing of nitrogen rich compost/top soil. Of course, adding cornmeal to this mix could provide additional benefits. We all know that!

Another question for you, Lou...As you watched your neighbor's lawn decline did you notice if the grass blades were bending over each other so that the blade tips were touching the ground?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 2:49PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Hmm. I don't know. I didn't really look that closely. I just noticed that it just kept spreading and spreading every day when I take my dog out. The lawn was pretty thick to begin with (st augustine lawn) and I don't see how it's possible with stolons running everywhere. Maybe it's the stolons that are spreading fungus out?

Yeah, I was able to just pull grass out easily. No roots at all. From the look of mine, they might have grown new roots after the problem was resolved but who knows? It's only like a square foot of grass that is dead from pulling up. Weird huh?

My guess is that over application of synthetic products may have made things a lot worse.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 10:34AM
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Hi Nandina,
Yes, I have had take all root rot that nearly wiped out my entire yard. I treated it organically and have never turned back to chemicals thanks to this website.

This is what I did. Google "take all root rot dallas texas" and you will find a study that was done on homeowners lawns in Dallas, Texas. Look at the top 2 results. I put down peat moss and hu-more as recomened and 20pd/1000 of cornmeal, which everyone here recomended and it stopped it dead in it's tracks. I reapplied cornmeal 3 weeks later at 10/1000 just to be sure. I went to the natural gardener and they recomended actonivate also, but I opted out of it as I thought it was too pricey.

If I had to guess what really did the trick, I would put my $ on cornmeal. In retospect I wish I had only used cornmeal rather than dumping everything on but my grass was dying by the minute.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 11:23PM
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Grassypants, many thanks for your answer and the link you provided. I would strongly suggest that those growing southern grasses bookmark that site if needed in the future. It gives a good description of how to identify and control TALF.

Yesterday I learned an additional identification method which I did not see explained but may be helpful. Pull on a single blade of dead grass and listen carefully for a 'snap' sound while the root clump remains firmly imbedded in the ground. This indicates Take-all lawn fungus. On the other hand, if the problem is Brown Patch, there will be no snapping sound and the grass clump will pull easily from the ground.

I would be reluctant to treat Take-all fungus with just cornmeal. Cornmeal encourages the growth of a Trichoderma fungus which in turn destroys Sclerotinia, Aspergillus and Rhizoctonia (fungus which causes Brown Patch) fungi. I can find no university research which indicates that cornmeal is effective on the fungus which causes Take-all.

If I understand the recent Texas organic research, top dressing the lawn with finely milled sphagnum moss plus hu-more, which are very acid, is a successful cure lasting for about two years. This presents a problem for those opposed to using sphagnum moss. I wonder if spraying heavily with Humic acid or spreading organic cotton burr compost or cotton seed meal would be acceptable substitutes? Maybe they will trial those. It appears that in areas such as mine with natural, very acid soil just top dressing with compost or a rich soil will control Take-all fungus. Plus, it never hurts to add cornmeal to the mix. Does no harm. May help. There is no scientific proof one way or the other.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 3:42PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)


The problem is that nobody really does scientific studies when it comes to organic stuff. Just because there's no scientific studies doesn't mean it doesn't work. Pretty much all are done on chemical products... for $$$$$$$$. That's the motivation. M-O-N-E-Y. I'm pretty sure that properly organically cared for lawn will see much less of fungal problems. I have many trees growing in the containers that I have to water every day so I probably made that tiny area of lawn much more conductive to harmful fungal growth by dragging hose around watering part of lawn every day...

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 6:11PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Take-All Patch - Fungus

The organic program is the solution for Take-All Patch is to get the soil and grass back to a healthy, stress free condition. Synthetic fertilizers, toxic pesticides and over-watering are the causes of this fungal disease problem. Peat moss is recommended now by some researchers but the better solution is compost or compost tea. Peat moss is dead, compost is alive. Even most of the chemical boys are no longer recommending the toxic fungicides, which is good because they donÂt work and they are dangerous neurotoxins. The same research guy that now recommends peat moss also did the research on compost and used to recommend it. I guess the grant money is now coming from a different place. Despite the criticism of whole ground cornmeal and garlic, these tools are also very effective in fighting this and other fungal diseases.

Take-All Patch (Bermuda Decline)

A disease that can attack several species of grass. It is caused by the fungus Gaeumannomyces graminis var. graminis, and is mostly found in St. Augustine grass but can also cause problems in Bermuda grass. It is most active during the fall, winter and spring especially during moist weather.

The first symptom is often yellow leaves and dark roots. Area of discolored and dying leaves will be circular to irregular in shape and up to 20 feet in diameter and thinning occurs. Unlike brown patch, the leaves of take-all infected plants do not easily separate from the plant when pulled. Stolons will often have discolored areas with brown to black roots.

Regrowth of the grass into the affected area is often slow and unsuccessful because the new growth becomes infected. Controlling take-all patch is said to be difficult but isnÂt with organic techniques. Good surface and subsurface drainage is important. Cut back on watering and fertilizing. Use only organic fertilizers. If soil compaction exists, aeration will help to alleviate this condition and allow the grass to establish a deeper, more vigorous root system.
Prevent Take All Patch by maintaining healthy soil. Control the active disease by aeration, cornmeal and compost and the Basic Organic Program.

Source - dirtdoctor.com

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 6:32PM
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HELP!! I have the Take All Fungus in my front lawn. I tried the Scotts fungus control and it was a joke!! The TALF just laughed at it and spread like wild fire. I want to use the peat/cornmeal method but I'm not sure if it can be applied with a Scotts Spreader? Anyone have any suggestions at which rate it should be applied? I've got to get this thing under control! DH refuses to lay new sod!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 11:15PM
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I have learned a great deal since I originally posted this question. Picking up on Lou Midlothian's suggestion above re using organic Actinovate I researched it and ordered it. Used according to package instructions for initial application and monthly treatments it is totally controlling my lawn fungus problems. Do a search for it looking for the best price. Later I plan to write further thoughts/observations on Actinovate as I have time.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 9:34AM
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Hi all -- new to this site. Some really good posts! I just bought a foreclosed property and have totally re-planted the yard (shrubs, lawn,etc). I put in a st augustine in July (not the best time -- i am aware).

Now fungus is on about 1/2 the yard (a second delivery on my grass). The other half is still good. I am brand new to Sarasota area, and i am trying to find the best compost tea and some good compost. Perhaps a good place to buy corn meal. I am going to try a product called 'actinovate' and also use 'atomicgrow' -- both organic. Then will go with some corn meal, compost, and garlic, too.... (throwing the kitchen sink at it).

I am from San Antonio and HAD a great organic yard there. I would like to try to do this in FL. Any advice is appreciated? Fungus in my #1 focus right now.
My actinovate should arrive tomorrow... just not really sure about the order of doing my treatments, etc. Where to buy ? (if you are local -- shoot me an email please or post here)...THANKS!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 9:53AM
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bombarded with so many replies .. ha ha... no worries, proceeding on.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 11:40AM
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Sorry to hear about the Scotts product. It usually is very successful. That's why we have our guarantee. Give us a call at 800-543-8873 and we can discuss and assist with your fungus problem. We also have more info on our website at www.scotts.com

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 1:26PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Nandina has done some other fact finding on Actinovate recently. At Nandina's suggestion on another post I bought some last week. The package I bought had an application rate of 9 teaspoons per 1,000 square feet. Nandina had told me to use 3 but emphasized "follow the directions on the package." I followed the directions and the $25 package only covered 3,000 square feet. I wrote to Nandina and got a message back a few days later. Nandina had contacted the company and found out that the label I got was supposed to only be distributed in California for use on their Live Oak wilt problem. Somehow there was a mix up.

The application rate for the first app is 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) per 1,000 square feet. Then subsequent apps get 1 teaspoon per 1,000.

Also Actinovate is available at Amazon so anyone can get it...and for a lower price than I paid locally.

Regarding chemical treatments for fungus: most of them require temperatures below the daytime low temperature in the summer in the south.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 12:37AM
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My St. Augustine lawn (Huffman, TX)has take all fungus, according to my local nursery. Their recommendation is an application of cornmeal, molasses and MicroGro. The cost of using all of those products is prohibitive because I have about 103,000 square feet to cover. I have been using organic fertilizer for a full year and two years ago I had leaf-mold compost applied over about 50,000 square feet. I've read all of the information above and it sounds like my nursery is definitely on the right track but does anyone have any suggestions about how I can attack this fungus without breaking the bank! Do I really need to use all three products?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 9:50PM
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As a rule treating lawns now damaged by a fungus will not do much. What you need to do is feed the soil and work on trying to eliminate the reasons the lawn got that fungus last fall, and if those conditions appear this fall, again, treat with a fungicide.
Texas A & M has some good information about what to do with a lawn damaged by fungi.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lawn Fungal diseases

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 7:48AM
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We think we are fighting take all lawn fungus in our zoysia grass. It was put in last year and was beautiful until this summer. It has been extremely dry in Florida all spring and unfortunately we thought the brown spots were lack of water. Probably compounded the problem with too much water. We did spread the cornmeal as suggested and used the actionovate as well. What is the next step? Should we cover the brown areas with topsoil now and to what depth. If so, do we then mow around those areas? We had the pH tested and it was 7 although the soil tested as poor. More soil is being tested at U of Florida and we should get those results soon. We used Milorganite recently. Just wanting to be as pro-active as possible before our whole front lawn is carried away. Any advice would be appreciated...

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 1:33PM
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This link may provide you with more information then I could, here.

Here is a link that might be useful: Take All root rot of Zoysia

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 7:19AM
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To dachall...An update on my take-all fungus treatments with Actinovate last year. After the second Actinovate application plus letting the St. Augustine grow a bit longer as suggested by the experts our lawn recovered and was beautiful for the rest of the summer. I continued treating throughout this period of time on the prescribed schedule. Cooler fall weather meant reducing grass height for the winter and three days after this was done the fungus hit with a vengence! What a mess! I treated again with Actinovate and crossed my fingers. This spring, faced with a disaster I called in a lawn company to have a commercial fungicide applied. It is slowly recovering. The 'light green' stage (No, that is not caused by chinch bug) is mostly gone and I see signs of recovery. I will stay with the lawn company this year making certain that a fungicide treatment is applied and watered in at time of application about a week before fall lawn cutback. Will see how that goes.

Am trialing Actinovate on tomatoes this year. So far no sign of fungus or disease. Time will tell.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 5:42PM
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