These past few crisp mornings prompts me to mention a phenomenon that occurs just about every fall. After the first light killing frost, weird camouflage patterns appear on turf, particularly hybrid Bermudagrass.
While many homeowners become alarmed that their lawns have overnight contacted some horrible disease, this phenomenon is nothing to worry about. Your lawn has not been invaded by the military or some terrible insect or fungus. It is simply the result of the first light frost or two of fall.
Heat is absorbed into the soil during the day and radiates off at night through the dense canopy of leaf blades, stolons, etc. in these somewhat zigzag patterns. The small difference in temperatures is enough for frost to develop and kill leaf tissue in spots where the temperature has dropped low enough, but not in others.
Generally the denser and thicker the turf canopies the more likely for this phenomenon to occur. Once we get a hard freeze with a widespread heavy killing frost the camouflage patterns will disappear and your lawn will return to a healthy green next spring.
Published November 16, 2009
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org