All the recent news about the flu has me thinking about diseases. Did you know that grasses can get sick just like you and me? It’s a fact. Grasses can be infected with by viruses, bacteria and even fungi just like humans.
Most often, however, grass diseases are the result of fungal infections that are transmitted by insects, animals, machinery or plant debris. Given the requirement fungi have for moisture, you might wonder how these fungi even survive in our dry climate long enough to cause grass diseases. There are actually a couple of ways.
At this time of year, naturally occurring snow and rainfall can increase humidity to levels that are favorable to fungal infections such as snow mold. And don’t let the name fool you. Snow molds do not actually require snow cover to become active. You may have noticed damage from these diseases from years past as temperatures warm up in late winter and early spring.
The other way that fungi infect grasses in this state at warmer times of the year is when irrigations create artificially humid conditions. But that’s a story for another day.