Lethal Viral Necrosis

In recent years, South Florida has become the victim of a lethal plant virus, known as necrosis. Confirmation of the first diagnosis was in Palm Beach County in 2014, and this disease has spread. In 2019 Miami-Dade County had several samples diagnosed positive for lethal viral necrosis. St. Augustine grass ‘Floratam’ cultivar is one of the main hosts of this disease. Most lawns throughout Florida get planted with this St. Augustine grass cultivar. Zimmerman Tree Service has seen this disease up close!

What Is Necrosis in Plants?

Necrosis is a viral turfgrass disease that destroys entire lawns and the surrounding lawns in as little as three years after infection. Floratam St. Augustine is not only one of the main hosts, but it is also the most popular grass type used in South Florida lawns. So how do you know if your lawn has Lethal Viral Necrosis?

Symptoms of plant disease:

  • Early symptoms include a mosaic pattern on the leaves that become necrotic leaves (prematurely browning and dying).
  • A blotchy and streaky pattern of yellow and green color
  • Broken yellow streaks running through the veins on a green blade
  • Symptoms usually appear around the fall or winter months
  • Blades will eventually turn brown and die, but not before it spreads to other parts of the yard

If you are unsure if your lawn is infected, ask your local lawn company or take a sample to a nearby plant clinic.

Preventing Lethal Viral Necrosis

Lethal Viral Necrosis is not treatable with any fungicides, pesticides, or “vaccine” and gets spread through exposed plant sap. Recently trimmed or mowed grass promotes the spread of this virus. Even lawn care equipment can aid in the spread. Wheels from equipment such as lawnmowers or trimmers can carry the disease throughout the lawn. If the lawn is wet, it increases the likelihood of the disease spreading. This is why it is recommended to mow when the grass is completely dry, it is also recommended to sanitize lawn equipment between using them on multiple lawns. Sanitizers like Virkon S at 2%, GreenSheild, PineSol, various alcohols, Physan 20, or Lysol, can be used to clean the equipment and kill the virus if it is present. Household bleach can also work but would eventually corrode any metal equipment.

Contact Us

Contact us today if you need any lawn treatment services or are concerned about Lethal Viral Necrosis in your yard.

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