KPU Research Report: Fungal biocontrol agents for control of snow mould disease in turf grass

field with snow mould being measured

Snow moulds cause serious problems in turf grass in regions where the winters are cold and turf is snow covered. These pathogens cause patches of discoloured and water-soaked grass and delay turf recovery after winter which, in turn, reduces the quality of the turf and playability on golf courses. It is estimated that golf courses in the Pacific Northwest spend approximately $20,000 annually on fungicides for the control of snow mould diseases.

Pink snow mould, Microdochium nivale, is one of the most common snow moulds affecting turf grass in Western Canada. This pathogen does not require snow cover in the winter to facilitate disease progression and can be active all year long in areas with cool, wet climates.

The search for alternative methods for the control of snow mould has been ongoing for several decades. The rise in pesticide bans and restrictions have made it difficult for turf management that relies heavily on the use of fungicides to control this disease. Several biological agents have been investigated for the control of snow moulds, including Typhula phacorrhiza, Pseudomonas aureofaciens and Trichoderma atrovirid.

A research study was conducted by Dr. Deborah Henderson at the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture at Kwantlen Polytechnical Institute to investigate the efficacy of Trichoderma fungal biocontrol agents for the control of snow mould disease in turf grass. Dr. Henderson notes that as the research resulted in as many questions as answers, further study will be required to determine how biocontrols can be more effectively employed in the management of this pathogen.

snow mould on turf grass
Read the revised report released in September 2021.