is upon us and so is snow mold. Snow mold is a fungal disease that appears when snow melts in early spring. It’s a common occurrence in years when early winter snows covered an unfrozen ground or when ground conditions are unseasonably wet.
There are two varieties of snow mold:
Pink snow mold (Microdochium nivale) can occur with or without snow. It can exist in temperatures ranging from 32 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit as long as grass remains wet. Signs will include roughly circular, straw-colored patches of grass with a white or pinkish cast surrounding the symptomatic area.
Gray snow mold (Typhula blight) forms under snow piles and is characterized by circular patches of straw-colored turf that appear matted and may have gray webbing present.
“The saturated ground conditions coupled with the recent heavy snow fall have created very favorable conditions for pink snow mold,” said Matt Lindner, director of SavaLawn, the lawn care division of SavATree. “The snow acts like an incubator on the saturated turf, allowing this lawn fungus to become active.”
Snow mold damage is generally cosmetic. However, infected areas may be slower to come out of dormancy and green up. Lightly raking infected patches after the lawn begins to dry can increase airflow and help aid recovery. An application of lawn fertilizing will stimulate new growth.
“Snow mold seldom kills the entire plant,” said Lindner. “The best thing a homeowner or land manager can do is to give the matted grass a light fluffing to expose the crown of the infected plants. This will allow the sun to dry the plants, warm the soil and ultimately lead to recovery. Do not aggressively rake the infected turf! This will only cause more damage to the tender roots and shoots.”
With warmer temperatures and dryer conditions ahead, the fungus should start to disappear on its own. In most cases, a full recovery can be expected.
To reduce the impact of snow mold next year, follow these steps:
1. Continue mowing into the fall until the grass has stopped growing
2. Remove all leaves and debris before snow falls
3. Manage thatch with core aeration to help turf dry faster
4. Spread out snow piles as spring nears to encourage rapid melt
Tips provided by SavATree. SavATree offers an array of traditional, natural, biological and organic lawn care solutions as well as customized tree, shrub and plant health care programs. To learn more, visit www.savatree.com.