Beware of the fog

By |  April 2, 2020 0 Comments
Photo: Karl Danneberger

Karl Danneberger

While reading or watching a video, words like dazed, hazed, confused, perplexed, trance or stupor occasionally describe someone or a situation. These descriptive words are synonyms of being “in a fog.”

In literature, fog represents approaching gloom, death or isolation. It is the gray or blurred zone between reality and unreality in novels like Sherlock Holmes and the Deathly Fog and movies like John Carpenter’s The Fog. Even a comic scene in the movie Revenge of the Pink Panther uses fog to set the stage of foreboding with the preface, “It’s only an old salty Swedish sea dog.”

In the Bible, fog and mist are images preceding great revelations.

1 Corinthians 13:12 “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears, and the sun shines bright!”

If you’ve ever played golf in fog, it’s an entirely different experience. A positive, however, is that you can hear much better in fog. Sound travels faster and farther through liquid than it does in gases like the atmosphere. Fog’s small water droplets spaced close together enhance sound, especially low-pitched tones (the reason foghorns have a low-pitched tone). If you’ve ever walked down one side of a fairway while your playing partners walk down the other, the sensation of hearing them speak of what they had for breakfast or what club they’ll hit is an experience not found on a clear day.

A dangerous aspect of playing golf in the fog is the inability to see a golf ball once it is hit, then trying to find that ball. Similar to driving in fog, you’re blind to what is in front or back of you. Because of potential bodily injury, golf rounds are suspended during fog.

Fog is a low-lying cloud. However, fog is different from the general description of a cloud in that it forms from a nearby body of water or moist ground. Small water droplets or ice crystals characterize fog. Fog forms by different means, depending on the condensation method. Examples include ground fog, radiation fog and hail fog.

Agronomically, turfgrass disease symptoms are enhanced in the presence of fog. Fog has its greatest impact on the early-to-late spring diseases.

Microdochium patch symptoms in early spring through late spring can change because of fog and increased moisture on the turf. Classical Microdochium patches appearing in late winter and early spring are reddish-to-tan circular spots. The outer edges of the 6-inch to 2-foot diameter patches may have a pinkish color.

Under conditions of high moisture, symptoms may appear in a more streaking pattern. Streaking is due to Microdochium nivale spores moving along with the drainage or flow of moisture infecting turfgrass plants along the way. Microdochium nivale has the potential to produce profuse numbers of infecting spores. The streaking symptoms appear similar to what Pythium blight looks like. This streaking pattern often has led to a misdiagnosis, something along the lines of “cool-temperature Pythium.”

Extended periods of fog can lead to an explosion of red thread symptoms, especially on perennial ryegrass. The increased moisture around the plant in the form of fog greatly influences the severity of the disease. I am not sure why, but were I to associate one disease with fog, it would be red thread.

With the warmer winter for much of the United States, I suspect we might see diseases like anthracnose and dollar spot occurring earlier this year. Fog will enhance the symptom occurrence — especially with dollar spot — earlier in the spring.

If fog becomes an issue, do not blindly walk into it. Be aware of the gloom and doom it can cause by enhancing turfgrass diseases.

This is posted in Columns

About the Author: Karl Danneberger, Ph.D.

Karl Danneberger, Ph.D., is a professor in the department of horticulture and crop science at The Ohio State University. He is author of the popular The Turf Doc column that appears monthly in Golfdom. Karl writes on topics ranging from Poa annua to pest control.

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