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Yellow Belly Kikuyu

KikuyuAlthough Kikuyu is often considered to be a weed, to others it is a variety of turf grass. It is common on racecourses and even Golf courses. Kikuyu is drought tolerant, hardy and a fast growing creeping grass.

It has one disease unique from all other grasses, Kikuyu Yellows. Kikuyu Yellows, (Verrucalvus Flavofaciens) is a disease caused by a water borne fungus. It was first identified by Dr Percy Wong. It has been around for some 20 years now, and has played havoc on turf farms around NSW.

The disease thrives on high temperatures in spring and summer, this is also when Kikuyu is in its dominant growth period, and since plant material and the soil bear spores of the fungus, it can be difficult to control.

Once the disease invades the plant it will turn it a bright yellow, and also cause the roots to rot. It moves quickly and kills off large areas of the plant. Patches vary in size from 10cm to 1m, but if left untreated can wipe out large areas.

This is one of the only diseases where there is no chemical that we know of, registered or unregistered, that has any effect in killing the disease.
The only remedial treatment is to take out the effected areas to a depth of 100millimetres, and then fumigate the area! You must then fill with fresh uncontaminated soil.

Areas can be over sown with any other grass, as the fungus is very specific to Kikuyu and will not invade other turf species.

You can mask symptoms by adding a complete fertiliser that is high in nitrogen, this will encourage root development.

As the disease is so easily spread, keeping your mower clean is very important as it avoids spreading the disease; it is one of the most important strategies in fighting this disease.

This disease is a serious threat for our industry, and should be taken seriously.

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This article was written

by in Education on 27 Aug 2007

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