November 3, 2011

Let It Snow

I have heard rumors that it may snow during the winter in North Dakota?  This will be my first winter here, but I have a hard time imagining that it could possibly snow 200" during the winter like I was used to in Montana.  Nonetheless, I'm sure we'll get our fair share this winter, and protecting the turf on the golf course from Gray and Pink snow mold diseases will be of utmost importance.  Below are a few pics I took this spring when I arrived here of some of the snow mold that developed on the course as the snow was melting away.

16 green

2 Fairway

16 tee
All of these examples are what I would consider unacceptable.  Although it is nearly impossible to prevent 100% of the disease, we should be able to have much better control than this.  After doing some extensive research, combined with the fact that one of the pesticide manufacturers was offering a HUGE rebate on some of their products this fall, I settled on two products that tested quite well at every upper midwest testing location from last winter.  Below is a small piece from a golf course test site in northern Wisconsin.  The first line on the chart is the "untreated" check plot.  No fungicide was applied the previous fall, and when the snow melted off in the spring the untreated area was 75% covered with snow mold!  The product combination we are utilizing this fall is highlighted in yellow, test 23.  On the same site, the plot treated with Interface and Triton experienced 0.0% disease severity and had one of the highest turf quality and color ratings of all the other products tested. 

I don't necessarily expect our course to come out with 0.0% snow mold disease in the spring, that might be wishful thinking.  But I would like to think we should be below 5%, and whatever patches do appear should be very scattered as well as very small (baseball size or smaller.)  The greens and tees received two other applications of some other fungicides as well, so I do expect them to receive 0.0% snow mold!

Currently, all of the fairways have received their spray application, and the greens and tees have recieved their first two applications.  We have one more application to make on the greens and tees as soon as we get one nice, calm day next week, and then the snow gods may release their fury (but only in Grand Forks and points northward, no snow to the south...)

On a side note, I made the decision not to apply snow mold fungicide to the lower part of 9 fairway and all of 17 fairway, as these two areas in particular have been a total loss 3 out of the last 3 years from the floods.  I guess it just seemed like a reasonable risk to take to save the money that will be wasted if the flood kills all the grass there anyway.  It was kind of a roll of the dice, but if we happen to luck out enough to not have to reseed those two areas after the flood in the spring, having a little bit of snow mold to deal with will still feel like a walk in the park!

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