BRRRRRR . . . Baby It’s Cold Outside!

We are, as you have no doubt noticed, going through some bitterly cold weather here in the Clark County Washington/ Portland Oregon area of late. Temperatures in the low teens overnight, frost, snow, freezing rain, East wind chill factors, just crazy, cold, Winter weather!

Drop all this on top of the previous water damage from this Fall and we have some potentially serious lawn problems out there. Here are a few of the things to be looking for;

Tip burn. This is easily recognized by the literal browning of .25-.5 inches of the grass tips. It gives the lawn an unsightly, patchy brown look. Caused by frost and/or cold, strong winds, this is the least serious of our winter problems. Cosmetic damage only, that can be mowed off when conditions allow for mowing. Proper fertilization will help return healthy color to the lawn.

Snow mold. We have experienced extensive damage from snow mold in the past around Clark County, from Woodland to Washougal and into Portland. So far, I haven’t seen it this year, but would not be surprised to see some after this latest bout of artic chill lifts. Snow mold, specifically pink snow mold in our area, forms in turf under the snow, and from extended periods heavy frost. It forms large matted down patches of grass, roughly circular,with a slimy, wet appearance. Pinkish mycelia (thin, delicate ‘threads’) may also be observed.

Initially, when temperatures have warmed up sufficiently,the best way to deal with this problem is to use a blower to “fluff up” the damaged areas. This aids in turf recovery, without physically damaging the turf further as using a rake would. Early Spring aeration is very beneficial to turf recovery. Coupled with prudent over seeding after the aeration, snow mold damage can be completely corrected.

Crane fly larvae. The cold temperatures slow down the crane fly larvae, but they simply move deeper into the soil and stop feeding until the temperatures increase enough for them to return to the grass root zone,where they feed and do their damage. The potential problem this extended cold weather can cause with crane fly larvae is later than normal hatchings of the crane fly eggs. Larvae feeding produces distinctive thinning in the turf, potentially even complete destruction of whole lawns if the larvae population is high enough and goes unchecked.

We have developed a two application crane fly larvae control program that will normally take care of our customers. However, late season eggs laid by the adults have the potential to remain viable through the winter,possibly even into early Spring. Rest assured, we will be on the lookout for late season crane fly larvae activity.

This cold snap has slowed us down at Tuff Turf. Just too darn cold to be doing effective lawn applications this week. But next week is supposed to be warmer and we’ll be out catching up and accessing any damage we find, giving expert advice about what can be done about it.

It’s what we do, and we do it very well.