Do you notice that your shoes or clothes are red or rust coloured after walking on your turf?
Are the leaves of your turf red or orange?
Is it summer or early autumn?
If you answer yes to the above questions, your turf has rust disease.
Rust diseases in turf are some of the oldest diseases known to attack grasses. They can only attack living grass and they are capable of killing the leaves, but generally, not the entire plant. The fungi that cause rust diseases cannot grow in your soil or decompose thatch. They are simply pathogens. For rust disease to develop in your turf, the weather must be wet and warm, and the grass under fertilised.
Rusts attack only the leaf blades of turf. If you have a keen eye, you will notice that rusty coloured turf leaves may develop a black powder on their surface in the late autumn. This is the same fungus, but at this stage in its yearly development it is getting ready for winter. The rust and black coloured powders are really spores. A spore is like a seed, each capable of starting a new leaf infection. Rust fungi can only infect the turf when it is actively growing. In addition to producing the rust and black coloured spores, the fungus will stunt the growth of your turf and cause the leaves to turn yellow.
How can you control rust disease?
The best methods to control rust diseases are as follows:
Fertilise your lawn properly.
Mow your turf properly.
Maintain good drainage.
Water your turf properly.
Are some grasses more resistant to rust disease that others?
Yes, some grasses are more resistant than others. You should make certain that when you buy turf or grass seed, you determine that it is resistant to rust disease.
Can fungicides be used to control rust disease?
No, there are no fungicides registered for use on turf to control rusts, and with proper care you will not need them.
Rust fungi attack turf that is not being cared for properly.