Leaf rust prevalent on purple big bluestem

Purple or dark red selections of big bluestem seem to be more susceptible to leaf rust, which shows up as orange or rust colored blotches on the leaf blade and sheath, and turns brown with age. Red October, shown below has quite a lot of rust. This is not fatal and is somewhat hidden in the darker foliage of these cultivars. Leaf moisture contributes to rust, so keeping the foliage dry does help.

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About grasstalk

University of Minnesota Professor and Extension Horticulturist
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