Turfgrass fall wrap-up and snow mold

A wet fall and early snow made finishing up turfgrass tasks such as leaf cleanup, final mowings and snow mold application timely tricky.

Snow mold on a golf course fairway
Snow mold on a golf course fairway. Photo by Kevin Frank, MSU.

As the end of 2018 draws near, many turf managers will be happy to put this year in the rearview mirror. Many have commented that this year we had winter, summer and then winter again with our hopes of a gradual spring warmup and gradual fall cool-down completely absent. Weather in October added to the challenge of buttoning-up the golf course or finishing fertilizer and broadleaf herbicide applications that turf managers schedule.

Across many areas of Michigan there was excessive rainfall. The Grand Rapids National Weather Service reported that Lansing, Michigan, had the eighth wettest October on record while both Grand Rapids and Muskegon, Michigan, had the 10th wettest October. Unfortunately at this time of year, once it’s that wet it doesn’t dry out any time soon, as temperatures and daylight have decreased and evaporative demand from the plant is essentially non-existent.

Following the delightful October weather, many areas of the state had several snow events in November leaving some turf managers juggling plowing snow with leaf cleanup and final mowings. If you haven’t been able to take care of leaves yet and you’re now snow free, now is the time to either mulch or remove leaves. A mat of leaves left on the turf over winter will smother the turf, slow spring green-up and may result in more snow mold.     

Snow mold

Every year there is plenty of conversation among golf course superintendents regarding timing snow mold applications. For those of you who have already made your snow mold fungicide applications, everything should be fine as the cold weather has stopped top growth. There has been no new top growth, so all the foliage that received fungicide treatment should be protected.

For those that use covers to protect putting greens, if you haven’t covered already, remember the covers provide the same environmental conditions for the snow mold fungi to germinate and infect the turf as snow provides. It is important that adequate levels of snow mold fungicides be applied to protect the greens. If the covers are going to remain on the greens for three or more months, a three-way fungicide combination at full label rates will be needed. 

Upcoming events

A couple of our key Michigan State University Extension events are just on the horizon. The MSU Turf School is for Dec. 17-20, 2018, and the Michigan Turfgrass Conference is Jan. 22-24, 2019. Both the MSU Turf School and Michigan Turfgrass Conference are held at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center on the MSU campus.

All details and registration information for both events can be found online at: MSU Turf School and Michigan Turfgrass Conference.

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