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Brown patch disease is a fungal infection that causes browning in lawns. Grass can recover in the fall, but overseeding with tall fescue is the best short-term solution.
Brown patch disease is a fungal infection that causes browning in lawns. Grass can recover in the fall, but overseeding with tall fescue is the best short-term solution. (Dave Clement, Ph.D / HANDOUT)

Last year my lawn developed brown patches. By the end of the fall they were mostly gone with a few spots damaged for good. This spring, the lawn came up beautifully, but now the disease is back with a vengeance. I have applied an antifungal, but it’s done little to slow things down. Would you confirm that it’s brown patch fungus and suggest remedies?

Our plant pathologist looked at your photo and believes it shows brown patch fungus. It’s common this year. Other issues cause similar browning, such as annual grassy weeds that die back now, but your photos show what appears to be leaf lesions of brown patch.

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Tall fescue is the most disease-resistant grass in Maryland, and still it is susceptible when conditions are ripe.

Brown patch occurs when humidity is high and daytime temperatures are 85℉ or above with nighttime temperatures above 68℉. Fertilizing in late spring or summer with quick release nitrogen increases chance of infection. Once the disease has started, homeowner fungicides cannot cure it. It does not usually kill roots, so tall fescue (a cool season grass) often recovers in fall. If not, overseed. Avoid seeding perennial rye, which is highly susceptible. Fertilize in fall. Search ‘fertilizer guidelines’ and ‘brown patch’ on the University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center’s website.

We’ve had a Bartlett pear tree for 15 years and never gotten a pear that wasn’t as crunchy as a carrot. I’ve tried various ripening methods: harvesting from August thru November, leaving them out, refrigerating them for days to months, etc. Any advice on what to do with these bricks?

All European pears, such as Bartlett, must not be allowed to ripen on the tree. The flesh will become gritty and soft. Pick pears when they are still hard but full-sized, with a slight change in background color. They should twist off the tree quite easily.

You can store pears in a refrigerator or other very cool location. They will soften up/ripen at room temperature. If this routine fails, we wonder if your pear tree is actually a Bartlett. Fruit tree labels get mixed up. A fruiting quince tree (Cydonia oblonga) is one candidate. Or it is possible your pear tree was grafted onto quince rootstock and the graft union buried, so that the rootstock became the above ground tree.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

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