December snowfalls echo the turf-disease threats of 2010, greenkeepers are warned

Recent snowfalls and dropping temperatures have prompted experts to warn greenkeepers to be extra vigilant in the look out for damaging Fusarium patch attack on turf.

Fusarium patch: Image HW
Fusarium patch: Image HW

Prolonged periods of snow cover have led to extensive damage to unprotected turf beneath snow blankets but acting now could make for a stress-free Christmas, said Syngenta technical manager Dr Simon Watson. 

According to Watson, the recent cold spell echoed that of 2010, with snowfalls in early December.

"The prospect of snow cover dramatically increases the risk of Microdochium (Fusarium) patch," he said.

"The snow acts as a thermal blanket at soil level and creates permanently moist leaf conditions, where the disease pathogen can thrive.

"Experiences in 2010 highlighted that when the snow thawed, turf without fungicide protection had been seriously hit.

"But turf managers who applied Medallion TL ahead of forecasts of snow cover and predicted high disease risk conditions, reported good results with turf staying disease free."

Dr Watson pointed to Hanbury Manor Golf Club, which treated the turf just before 10 days of snow cover. When the snow melted, treated greens looked clear.

But when golf and estate manager Stan Power looked at untreated surrounding areas he saw traces of infected turf.

"Early reports indicate that after the cool and wet summer there is a high incidence of Microdochium (Fusarium) inoculum present on the leaf and thatch in many turf surfaces.

"Assessing risks, using the GreenCast five-day disease forecasts to proactively target application timing, can help to prevent disease affecting turf quality early in the winter."

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