Scary Old Snow Mold

I often wonder why people make such a big deal out of snow mold?

It seems like every year I’m fielding questions from a few of my lawn fanatics asking what they can do to prevent it.

I have done extensive research on the causes and cures of both Pink and Grey snow mold over the years and have come to my own conclusions.

So as the name states snow mold needs a couple key components, one of them being snow cover. The other is Mycelium or spores of the two different varieties of this disease.

When we have extended periods of snow cover, especially early snows before the ground freezes the Mycelium that have survived the summer in the soil layer incubate between the insulating layer of snow cover and unfrozen ground in the turf causing wilted, discolored straw like turf.

The damage from both varieties of this disease can bee seen well into the spring as temperatures rise well into the 40’s and 50’s.

The general rule of thumb is the longer the lawn stays covered with snow the greater the chance for damage.

Let’s face it, it’s not a pretty thing to see on the first sunny day of spring.

But there are several things that you can do to help prevent and fix it once it becomes an issue.

Cultural control:

If you take a preventative route some say to avoid high nitrogen fertilizers right before winter.

There are advantages and disadvantages to doing this.

1) In my opinion lawns need carbohydrates going into winter so they can make food once they come out of dormancy.

Organic sources of nitrogen fertilizer would be a better option for pre winter feeding than synthetic sources.

2) Mow the lawn shorter! That’s what dad used to do right?

The shorter the lawn the slower it will come out of dormancy.

More foliage = more photosynthesis. More leaf surface will photosynthesize at a greater rate then short grass and the lawn should recover faster.

3) Rake up all those leaves in the fall!

In reality mulching leaves back into the lawn would be a much healthier option and would give the microbes in your lawn a wonderful snack.

4) Spread out any remaining snow piles to help dry out the lawn asap.

I compare lawn diseases to athlete’s foot disease. Dry feet are happy feet. Your lawn feels the exact same way. Excess moisture can be a terrible thing.

Lightly rake out the affected areas to help them breathe and dry faster.

Chemical prevention:

I personally would not recommend this option, but if you think you want to try to chemically prevent snow mold there are a few fungicides that are labeled accordingly.

The biggest issue with these is timing. You want to apply it just before the first snow fall event.

Too early or too late and it won’t be effective.

I would really recommend balancing or fixing the soil based on a soil test and keeping it healthy before ever considering a fungicide alternative and give it some organic probiotics.

Fungicides are antibiotics.

It’s the age old controversy of probiotics VS. antibiotics.

Probiotics are the good guys and antibiotics kill the good guys.

The bottom line is snow mold wont kill your lawn, it’s only a minor setback until warmer temperatures arrive.

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