Anthracnose – a fungal disease that attacks plants (including grass, trees: leaves & limbs, as well as fruits and veggies) in the spring when the weather is cool and wet creating the perfect conditions for the spores to spread.
This specific fungus is a strong one being able to live on plant debris throughout the winter and will resurface on your plants, trees, yards and leaves in the spring. Most commonly the fungus will affect varieties of oak, maple, and ash trees. However, it can also affect other deciduous and evergreen species. Because of its strength to survive and the various ways of transmission through plant debris, wind, rain, insects, gardening tools, and even mowing it can kill a number of plants and even some crops. The fungus will start out as a canker that develops in late winter and in early spring will begin to kill the buds and twigs.
Signs that your landscape may be infected with anthracnose –
When a tree is infected, you will notice that it doesn’t bloom on schedule. Most often it will produce blooms later and may not start to produce leaves until late June or even early July. Also, important to note, the leaves that have developed later will fall earlier as well.
A key sign that your leaves have been taken over by the fungus will be visibly clear. The leaves will show dry brown and black lesions. The lesions will start on the edges of the leaf but will gradually destroy the whole leaf.
Twigs will die on their tips and often will go into a defoliation process. Defoliation will cause a loss of leaves on a tree or stripping of leaves on a plant.
Your lawn will show extreme signs of infection with patches of yellow or red grass with dying roots and fungal hair. Because the spores can be moved by mowing the fungus will commonly affect large areas of well-manicured grass.
A key piece of preventing an outbreak of anthracnose is to keep leaves off of your lawn and out of garden beds. I am not saying that you can’t have any leaves on your lawns. If you have 10-20% of leaves on your entire property you should have no problems however excessive leaves on your lawn throughout winter will cause you a much bigger problem. By leaving leaves on your lawn you are “smothering” the grass which could inhibit growth come spring. Matted leaves that are blocking sunlight and not allowing for the water to evaporate which could leave you with a fungal, mold or disease infested lawn. By removing the leaves, you are also taking caution that should anything be infected with the fungus, it is being cleared out (and hopefully hasn’t already spread).
Space your plants and keeping them pruned will allow for proper air flow. Make sure that before you prune your plants, you are taking the extra step of cleaning your gardening tools to prevent contamination.
Do not allow fruits to touch soil.
Keep your lawn and plants properly fertilized. By creating a healthy landscape, you are making it harder for the spores to attack however if they do you have a better chance for survival due to the ability to thrive and hold off infection.
Remove and destroy any infected plants.
Prune dead wood and destroy infected leaves.
Rotate plants every 2-3 years.
There are sprays available but note – they should be sprayed early in the day and do not apply during hot weather. You can also pre-treat any new seeds you plan on introducing to your garden.
Other recommendations include neem oil which is organic and is a multi-purpose fungicide & insecticide.
If you think that your landscape is being attacked by this aggressive fungus – give the pros a call. We can set you up with an estimate to diagnose the disease and provide you with your best treatment options.