Pest Alert: Sugar Cane Mosaic Virus

by | Feb 15, 2021 | Pest Alert

Mainscape is committed to maintaining your property at the highest level. Part of that commitment is proactive communication when challenges present themselves. We want to make you aware of a plant disease called Mosaic Disease caused by the Sugar Cane Mosaic Virus (SCMV).

SCMV was named for the host it was first discovered on, sugar cane. The disease was subsequently observed in the 1960s afflicting St. Augustine grass where sugar cane was produced—specifically rural Palm Beach County. Pinellas County, Florida experienced an outbreak in 2013. The virus has now spread to parts of South Florida including Naples in 2019. This virus can also infect other grass species, such as Bermuda grass, paspalum (seashore paspalum and bahia grass), but the floratam cultivar of St. Augustine grass has suffered the most severe symptoms recently.

Symptoms include leaf tissue turning necrotic which develop into severe dieback that completely kills lawns infected with this fatal virus. Dieback and necrosis start in the fall months (September to October) and progress through the spring months. The use of fungicide and insecticide products are ineffective in controlling the development or spread of this virus. Once the lawn is infected, there are no known agronomic practices that can be implemented to cure infected lawns.

SCMV can be transmitted by mechanical equipment. Lawn mowers, line trimmers, and other equipment can spread the sap containing the virus to uninfected lawns. Healthy parts of the lawn that are not showing symptoms of SCMV should be mowed prior to lawns that are already known to be infected to reduce the spread of the virus.

Other varieties of St. Augustine grass such as Palmetto and Bitterblue can be used to replace areas that have been compro-mised by SCMV. These turfgrass species may also get the virus although they are more resistant. These species can also pose other cultural challenges that should be considered before utilizing them to replace infected lawns. Zoysia grass is not known to be susceptible to SCMV.

If your lawn shows symptoms, please contact our Customer Care Center at 1-800-481-0096 or here on our website to confirm the diagnosis of SCMV with our Agronomy team.