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Now’s the time for snow mold control

October 23, 2022 -  By
Pink snow mold, characterized by the color of its patch edges, targets both blade and root in affected grass. (Photo: Nufarm)

Pink snow mold, characterized by the color of its patch edges, targets both blade and root in affected grass. (Photo: Nufarm)

Prevention this fall is the key when it comes to controlling the snow mold pathogen, experts say. There are two types of snow mold — gray and pink — both cause different levels of grass damage.

The pathogen thrives under the cloak of winter, only to reveal itself through patches of dead grass on otherwise healthy lawns in the spring. In addition to being unsightly, the freeze-tolerant fungi can occasionally trigger allergies and asthma attacks.

An ounce of prevention

This is the perfect time to start preventive snow mold applications, says Aaron Hathaway, technical services manager at Nufarm.

Hathaway says LCOs should apply a preventative fungicide application for gray or speckled snow mold in the fall or early winter before snowfall accumulation.

“For pink snow mold, which is most problematic in the spring and fall when weather is cool and humid, repeat applications of fungicides may be necessary to prevent damage,” he says.

Gray snow mold, identified by light gray patches, is often found under large snow drifts that take longer to melt compared to surrounding snow. Patches are usually oddly shaped and range from a few inches to a few feet in diameter. Gray snow mold generally only kills grass surface blades but can destroy roots if left untreated in wet soil.

Pink snow mold targets both blades and roots, resulting in circular dead patches with pinkish edges. It can grow any time grass is wet, and soil temperatures dip below 40 degrees F.

Cost benefits in prevention

Dan Lyster, founder of DTL Total Turf Care in Downingtown, Pa., says customers often don’t understand the issues snow mold could cause on their lawns. He uses successes from previous treatments to help illustrate his point.

“Some people are apprehensive about snow mold prevention, but once they hear and see what else has been going on in their neck of the woods, they’re usually pretty receptive to the idea,” Lyster says.

DTL Total Turf Care offers lawn fertilization, weed control, insect control, aeration, overseeding and lawn restorations to a primarily residential client base.

“Snow mold can be tricky year to year, very hit or miss,” he says. “In 2021, we had a long, harsh winter and got a lot of calls. There wasn’t much preventive activity going on. Then, in the fall of 2021, that changed. We saw more people taking cultures and other proactive measures.”

Lyster says he touts the cost benefits of snow mold prevention when communicating snow mold problems to new clients.

“We tell them we’re going to do two prevention treatments in the fall,” he says. “It’s going to eliminate them having to possibly pay a landscaper several hundred dollars to pretty much rake up the snow mold to allow new growth to come through or leaf blowing it. So, a few hundred dollars on the prevention is going to essentially cut your costs in half in most cases. When people hear that, it makes a lot of sense for them.”

This article is tagged with and posted in 1022, From the Magazine, Turf+Ornamental Care

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