Posts Tagged ‘gray snow mold’

Snow Mold Prevention

Published by mrgrass on November 15th, 2013 - in Cultural Practices, Turf Disease
Typical matted appearance of snow mold in a lawn.

Typical matted appearance of snow mold in a lawn.

Gray and pink snow molds are the two most widely known snow mold diseases in our geographic region.  Gray and pink snow mold can become established under moist, wet weather common in the late winter or early spring.  Most snow molds become visible in March and can grow well into April manifesting themselves as discolored patches ranging from 1-2 feet to mere inches in diameter.  These patches can take on the appearance of cotton candy with colors ranging from gray, to pink, to white depending upon the time of day and type.  Pink snow mold can cause moderate damage, especially in new lawns under ideal wet weather conditions.  Gray snow mold requires snow to develop properly while pink can manifest itself without snow cover and in wide range of temperatures ranging from freezing up to nearly sixty.  Pink snow mold’s ability to develop without snow and under such a wide range of temperatures means it is a very common disease.  Damage can occur from either snow mold disease, especially new lawns or those prone to staying wet.  The actual snow mold damage results from the plants inability to recover quickly enough and appears as thinning within the infected patches.
Regular raking and mowing are effective practices to reduce snow mold.  However, do not be tempted to cease mowing in October; a final cut should be done in November as the grass enters dormancy.  Not allowing leaf litter to accumulate or remain on the lawn as winter approaches is a great way to help minimize snow mold problems.  Cut your lawn a little shorter in November, as low as 1.5 inches to minimize matted grass and leaves without scalping the lawn on uneven surfaces.
Aerating will help reduce compaction and maintaining a slightly acidic soil pH will also help reduce pink snow mold.  Minimizing the amount of highly soluble nitrogen is also an important factor as succulent leaf blades are more susceptible as fall becomes winter.  Use of a slow release fertilizer while applying lower rates of nitrogen is a great solution if you have experienced snow mold problems in the past.
Reducing snow along your driveway, walkways, or minimizing large piles will help minimize gray snow mold at your home.  Fungicides should only be used as a last resort in a lawn but can offer some protection with proper timing (late fall and or early spring).  Snow mold sprays can be done in November or December in our market area. Creating a healthy lawn with a diverse turf grass population and proper raking and mowing practices is your best asset toward snow mold prevention.  If you do experience visible snow mold next spring, be sure to have it examined as treatment may be required by your locally certified and licensed lawn care professional.

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Snow mold in your home lawn

Published by JKeefe on October 24th, 2011 - in Cultural Practices, Turf Disease

Classic visible snow mold damage

Cultural practices such as regular raking and mowing rank high on reducing snow mold in a home lawn setting during the fall.  Do not be tempted to cease mowing in October when a final cut should be done in November as the grass enters dormancy.  Not allowing leaf litter to accumulate or remain on the lawn as winter approaches is a great way to help minimize snow mold problems.  Cut your lawn a little shorter in late fall, as low as 1.5 inches to minimize matted grass and leaves.

Aerating will help reduce compaction and maintaining a slightly acidic soil pH will also help reduce pink snow mold.  Minimizing the amount of highly soluble nitrogen is also an important factor as succulent leaf blades are more susceptible as fall becomes winter.  Use of a slow release fertilizer while applying lower rates of nitrogen is a great solution if you have experienced snow mold problems in the past.

Gray and Pink snow mold are the two most widely known snow mold diseases in our geographic region.  Gray snow mold prefers actual snow cover while Pink can manifest itself just fine without snow so long as the moisture and temperature range are desirable.  Most snow molds become visible in March and can grow well into April with the appropriate weather conditions manifesting themselves in discolored patches ranging from 1-2ft to mere inches in diameter.  These patches can take on the appearance of cotton candy with colors ranging from gray, to pink, to white depending upon the time of day and type.

Reducing snow along your driveway, walkways, or minimizing large piles will help minimize gray snow mold at your home.  Fungicides should only be used as a last resort in a home lawn setting but can offer some protection with proper timing (late fall or early spring) and combination of products.  Creating a healthy lawn with a diverse turf grass population alongside proper cultural practices is going to be your best asset toward snow mold prevention.  If you do experience snow mold damage next spring, be sure to have your lawn aerated, raked, and fertilized to help maximize recovery of the affected areas.

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What large piles of snow mean to your lawn this spring.

Snow banks promote turf damage

Many are wondering what sort of impact so much snow will have on the average lawn come spring.  Generally, a decent snow cover protects your lawn from the drying winds and low temperatures common to winter weather.  However, if that same snow becomes compacted by use such as walking or driving; the grass can be damaged while in a dormant state.  Winter-kill or winter damage can often be attributed to ice formation or compaction through use.  New grass planted the prior season is especially vulnerable since it has not had a chance to mature which may result in thinning or dead patches from a harsh winter.

Snow mold is a more widespread problem resulting in various degrees of turf damage and thinning.  As snow banks recede and the weather warms in March, snow mold can thrive on the surface where the moisture level is just right and the temperature remains cool.  Snow mold has a tendency to matt down grass which is why a gentle raking is so important to help dry out the lawn surface once the sun comes out.  Improving the air circulation at the ground level and helping warm the soil through raking is a basic, yet important spring time task.

Grass which is severely stressed, or perhaps growing in the shade may in fact be further damaged by a pre-emergent crabgrass barrier while in a weakened state.  Most manufacturers of crabgrass barriers recommend a reduced rate or waiting until recovery has begun in May versus a March or April application.  In some situations, providing a basic natural or slow release fertilizer can speed up the recovery time as the soil warms and the material gradually takes effect versus a quick flush of growth from conventional fertilizers.  Since there are many variations to winter kill, ice damage, and snow mold within the same lawn and surrounding neighbors- a single solution is often not practical.  Each lawn should be evaluated individually, not treated with a cookie cutter approach where one product fits all situations.

So, before you apply a hundred pounds of fertilizer mixed with a crabgrass preventer this spring- consider the additional stress you may add to an already weakened lawn.  If you have thin or bare sections created from snow mold or winter kill, once that crabgrass barrier is down, there is no turning back and no seeding until fall.  There is a saying that goes something like “think twice, then think again, then act once” . . .

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