Fescue – Resisting brown patch

Q: I am tired of my fescue lawn dying every summer. It always starts with brown spots, then progresses to just dead patches all over. I am looking for the highest-rated fescue that has the best resistance to brown patch under Georgia conditions. Please provide a specific brand of fescue or a comparison chart.

A: Determining brown patch resistance is an inexact science. While there is a National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) site in Griffin and at universities across the country, evaluating a variety for disease resistance takes several years. In my view, grass companies have reduced their marketing of grass based on NTEP scores and have increased their advertising based on “company tests”.

Since the companies have a vested interest in promoting their own product, I have some doubt that their testing is as rigorous as the NTEP. Companies make various claims about the resistance of their grass to brown patch. However, there has not been enough time to evaluate their entries over a two to five year period as NTEP does.

I can not tell you scientifically which grass varieties are less likely to get brown patch disease. I CAN say that properly planted, correctly managed fescue of ANY variety will be more resistant to disease than a “resistant” variety planted on clay soil, fertilized after May and watered every day in summer.

Visit the NTEP fescue evaluation site to determine the results of impartial testing.

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