Snow mold is a type of fungus and a turf disease that damages or kills grass after snow melts, typically in late winter. It is a fungus which is highly common in the beginning stage of the lawn care season. There are two forms of snow mold. Gray Snow Mold and Pink Snow Mold. Both varieties of the disease are generally not a major threat to the turf except in severe cases.
Pink & Gray Snow Mold
Gray snow mold (also called Typhula blight) is caused by Typhula spp., while pink snow mold (also called Fusarium patch) is caused by Microdochium nivalis. Gray & Pink snow mold is the name used to describe the disease associated with snow cover, appearing when snow melts. Gray snow mold survives hot summer temperatures in the soil or in infected plant debris, while pink snow mold survives as mycelium or spores in infected plant debris. Microdochium patch is the name of the disease that occurs without snow cover It can easily be identified by the appearance of small to large blighted or straw-colored grass. These patches generally appear to be matted down, stuck or glued together. All types of grass can be affected. Snow Mold can actually infect a lawn without the presence of snow cover if the lawn experiences cool temperatures combined with prolonger rain and overcast conditions.
How to Control Snow Mold
In the spring the treatments to repair the damage from these the two types of mold are very different. For Pink Snow mold, treat the area with a fungicide. For Gray Snow Mold gently rake affected areas of the lawn to promote drying and prevent further growth. Fungicides are not typically recommended. Some seeding may need to be done to fill in areas that were harshly affected.
Preventing Snow Mold
The following steps can be taken to minimize damage in future years.
- Avoid excessive applications of nitrogen fertilizer in the fall.
- Continue to mow the lawn at the recommended height until it is no longer actively growing. The taller the grass, the more likely it will mat down and encourage snow mold development.
- Rake up leaves in the fall.
- Manage the thatch layer to avoid accumulations of more than ½ inch.
- Seeding will help reduce soil compaction
- Minimize large piles of snow on the turf
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