Snow Mold Management Strategies for the Athletic Field Manager

In order for athletic-field managers to develop effective management strategies for snow molds, they must have a proper understanding of the respective disease cycles, pathogen biology and epidemiology, as well as the ability to adequately diagnose the disease based on symptoms, signs and other indicators. Two important cool-season diseases receive widespread attention from turf managers — gray snow mold and pink snow mold.

Gray snow mold, caused by a basidiomycete Typhula incarnata and T. ishikariensis, is an important winter disease, particularly in areas where snow cover lasts for extended periods of time. Gray snow mold requires snow, leaves, straw mulch or desiccation covers for disease development. 

Symptoms become apparent at snow melt as circular areas of yellow, straw-colored or grayish-brown turf, from 2″ to 3′ or more in diameter. The leaves in affected areas are matted together and are often covered with white to gray mycelium.

As the infected grass dries, the mycelium disappears and the turf leaves become grayish to silvery white, brittle and encrusted over the patch. Small (0.2 to 5.0 mm in diameter) hard, spherical sclerotia are formed in leaf sheaths and infected leaves. Sclerotia are a diagnostic feature of gray snow mold. 

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