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News, events, and happenings in Colquitt County agriculture.

The recent rainfall in Colquitt County has caused mushrooms to appear in turf, mulch, and landscape beds. Mushrooms usually appear when rain follows extended dry periods. Not only are mushrooms concerning due to their unsightly presence, but some types are known to be toxic to children and animals. People should never eat unidentified mushrooms that grow in lawns. Despite this, seeing mushrooms in your yard does not indicate soil problems. Fungi are vital in a healthy soil ecosystem, as they act as decomposers for dead plants and organic matter in the soil, providing nutrients for plants.

The types of mushrooms and fungal growths that can appear in your yard include puffballs, stinkhorns, slime molds, fairy-ring mushrooms, and others. Puffball mushrooms are known for being large, blob-shaped, and lacking gills. They emit brown dust-like spores when impacted, which is how the mushroom spreads. Stinkhorns are reddish-orange mushrooms known for the foul smell they give off. Slime molds appear as a slimy, powdery growth on lawns, mulches, or wood. Fairy-ring mushrooms grow in a circle in open grassy places and as they grow, they use up all the nutrients in the soil, starving the grass.

The best way to prevent mushrooms in your lawn is by practicing good irrigation management practices and eliminating the fungus’ food source. A lawn that is too wet will encourage fungal growth and will cause mushrooms to sprout. Homeowners should consider adjusting their lawn irrigation schedule. Please water the lawn once every week or two at the most and mow regularly since short grass dries out quicker than tall grass. Be sure to keep shade to a minimum so that sunlight can reach the lawn. Fungi are known to consume organic material, so clearing out buried wood, roots, piles of leaves, logs, limbs, and pet waste can discourage mushroom growth. Since fungi are also known to consume thatch and mulch, de-thatching and aerating the lawn may be effective in reducing mushrooms.

What if I have mushrooms in my yard? Mushrooms can be removed by pulling them, kicking them over, or running over them with your lawnmower. Please be sure to remove mushrooms as soon as they sprout to prevent them from having enough time to release spores. For this same reason, discard mushrooms in the trash to prevent them from spreading. The best way to keep mushrooms out of your landscape is to irrigate before the lawn gets too dry. If the lawn stays somewhat moist, the fungus will stay underground and will not produce mushrooms. The lawns that tend to be covered with the most mushrooms are those that never get watered during droughts.

If you have any questions please contact your local county Extension agent.  

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