Identifying stages of Microdochium Patch

Microdochium Patch is one of the most prolific turf diseases on golf courses in the UK. Therefore, it’s important to identify each stage to catch it before it takes hold on your greens. Read Dr Colin Mumford’s top tips for spotting the symptoms

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Microdochium Patch is a leaf tissue disease that develops in five different stages, and the earlier you catch it, the better chance you have of minimising damage.

Stage one is invisible to the human eye, as it doesn’t affect the grass plant, but the disease spores will be germinating.

Following this, very faint signs of stress with a light beige or orange colouring will come through the base of the plant. This discoloration tends to occur under the canopy, so it can be tricky to see.

However, this is the most important stage to spot, as the spread of disease can rapidly increase from here.

Stage three then sees natural progression of the patches, that start out roughly the size of a pound coin. They may begin to merge together, and the colour will become a deeper orange or brown, with a greasy appearance.

While these are still fairly small, it’s likely that the golfer will start to notice patches of discoloured turf, before the mycelium, that looks like a white mould, starts to develop around the growing patches in the fourth stage.

The development then becomes more aggressive and the chlorophyll in the leaves will be lost, giving a deeper colour still. The greasy texture will be maintained through this period.

The fifth and final stage will see the turf bleached, with some die-back and a strong orange colouring around the outside of the patch. This creates an uneven surface which is unsightly and becomes a problem for golfers, as the depressions in the turf can negatively affect ball-roll. 

However, as this is a disease of the leaf tissue, and not the plant crown or roots, when growing conditions are conducive, normally come spring, the turf can recover and regrow.