As lawns emerge from snow, so does 'snow mold'

Fungus in wait on buried grass

Gray snow mold attacks grass

BEND, Ore. - Central Oregon lawns and plants have taken quite a hit from the past few snowstorms. The heavy amounts of snow on the ground have created "gray snow mold," scientifically referred to as "typhula incarnata."

The mold shows up after continuous snow cover of anywhere from 40 to 60 days. It is a gray and fuzzy substance that mainly coats grassy areas.

"Gray snow mold" infects the leaf blade of grass and has the potential to kill it. Because the snow hasn't melted as quickly this year, the mold has had the moisture and darkness it needed to grow. 

However, on many occasions, the mold will only infect the top of the grass, and people can do damage control. Raking the matted grass will break up the mold and stop its life cycle. Breaking apart and spreading large snow piles will prevent large quantities of mold from growing underneath it. 

"I've been walking around the neighborhoods, and you're seeing it in every single lawn. And it's just going to be a waiting game," OSU Extension Service horticulturist Amy Jo Detweiler said Saturday. "Hopefully, it will just be something that you can just sit back and wait to see what happens, (and) as the sun continues to stay out, it will dry up those spots, and you'll start to see it dry up in the spring." 

Although it is called a mold, it is really a fungus that attacks certain plant life. It is not harmful to humans or animals, Detwiler said.. 

As springtime approaches and certain areas of your lawn have not started to turn green, it may have been affected by "gray snow mold." At that point, it is best to re-seed, to create new grass.

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