Red Thread: A Common But Difficult Lawn Disease To Control

1st Jun 2012

With the recent varying weather conditions that we have faced, fungus has encountered the perfect conditions to reside in, resulting in thousands of lawns suffering from Red Thread disease.

What Exactly Is Red Thread?

Red Thread is one of the most common turf diseases in the UK. The fungus that causes it lives in most turf, although you can’t normally see it because it lies below the turf level.

From a distance, Red Thread looks like dead grass as you will most likely notice patches of brown grass that look like straw. Closer inspection will allow Red Thread to be seen more clearly.

Some Red Thread Facts

  • It does not kill grass as the fungus isn’t capable of damaging the roots.
  • It is more common in fine fescue lawns compared to other grass types like Rye.
  • Although it damages turf, grass usually recovers within a number of weeks.
  • It can develop and appear in turf at any time of the year.

How Can I Tell If My Lawn Has Red Thread?

You should take a piece from your lawn and examine it closely. Two of the easiest ways to do this is by placing it onto a white piece of paper, or by using a magnifying glass.

If your lawn has Red Thread, you will see pink-to-red colour “threads” wrapped around the brown grass leaves. (hence the name Red Thread).

You will most likely see the disease in patches in various sizes across your lawn. As the disease develops over time, the patches may increase in size and eventually join together.

Depending on how badly the disease has established in your lawn, you may eventually see very bright red, easy to see patches of severe infestation.

Should I Increase Nitrogen Levels to Cure Red Thread?

It’s common conception that lack of nutrition or nitrogen are the main causes of Red Thread. This is not entirely true.

Although higher nitrogen levels can be used to burn out the Red Thread and disguise it, this does not cure it. Red Thread can still easily appear on well fertilised lawns.

If your lawn care company is repeatedly applying higher levels of nitrogen fertiliser to your lawn, Red Thread will typically be more difficult to remove.  With correct greenkeeping skills and practices, your lawn shouldn’t require high levels of nitrogen fertiliser at each visit.

How Can My Lawn Be Treated Once It Has Red Thread?

The only products that are available in the professional turf industry are chemical fungicides. However, most of these fungicides tend to act only as a preventative, rather than a cure.

Lawn Master have our own 2 part treatment to cure Red Thread, which is a result of years of testing various products and methods at championship golf courses and football pitches, to see which work most effectively.

How Can I Prevent Red Thread From Appearing In My Lawn?

Here’s a check list to help prevent Red Thread from appearing in your lawn:

  • Have a fungicide application applied to your lawn at an early period of the year.
  • Brush off your lawn mower blades after cutting each of your individual lawns.
  • Ask your lawn company what lawn fertiliser they are using. They should have more than one fertiliser available to use.
  • Take action when discovered at all. Don’t allow the problem to get worse.

Having a fungicide application applied to your lawn at an early period of the year will vastly decrease the chances of your lawn being infected. The main problem is that most people won’t react to Red Thread until they see it, at which point it is too late for most fungicides to work effectively.

Fungicide applications will certainly minimise costs in the long run and can also be a cheaper method of preventing other unwanted diseases from appearing.

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Lawn Master (Head Office) This article was written by:

Lawn Master is a national lawn care and treatment company in the UK, with over 50 specialist outlets around England, Wales and Scotland.

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