Pink Perchance? February 27, 2015

Pink Perchance?

By Bob Vavrek, Senior Agronomist
May 19, 2008

Extended periods of wet, cloudy, unusually cool weather can really muddy the waters when it comes to making turf management decisions during spring. Toss into the mix the discoloration and turf stunting that can occur when Poa annua seedhead suppression PGRs are applied just prior to a cold snap and you can be left scratching your head over a kaleidoscope of turf colors on greens and fairways well into June.

Old and new cultivars of creeping bentgrass all tend to be slow coming out of the gate during spring. The patchwork quilt of bentgrass colonies commonly seen on old greens will generally require several consecutive days of 80 to 85°F before the rate of bentgrass growth begins to approach the growth of the adjacent Poa annua , which seem to be growing full tilt as soon as the snow melts.

Nothing looks quite as drab as old creeping bentgrass next to vibrant green Poa annua following a week of cool, cloudy weather. I suppose golfers are more receptive to a simple explanation, which may be why good ol' red leaf spot often takes the blame for off color greens each spring. Google red leaf spot and you will find that the real deal is actually a warm weather (June/July) disease of bentgrass that should not be a concern during a cold spring. Nevertheless, old habits die hard.

On the other hand, it definitely makes sense to keep an eye out for pink snow mold (a.k.a. Microdochium patch) during cool, wet, spring weather. A disease relatively easy to control, but under the right environmental conditions and left untreated, it can severely thin out the turf. To make matters worse, it can be spread by mowers, which makes for some interesting patterns of damage on greens. There is nothing quite like double cutting over active pink snow mold to document the crew's ability to mow a 90° pattern across the putting surface. Year after year, pink is the disease the sneaks up and bites you just when you are trying to hold back making the initial fungicide treatment of the season…waiting, of course, for symptoms of more glamorous, fashionable diseases, like take-all patch or, better yet, Waitea patch.

Until next month, here's hoping all your patches are easy to spell and pronounce.

Source: Bob Vavrek, or 262-797-8743