In recent years, many professional turf managers have noticed and reported a reduction in Snow Mold activity on turf that is regularly fertilized with Nature Safe.
This was also true when a turf manager was unable to protect his turf with a recognized fungicide. Occasionally this occurs because of an unusually early snowfall followed by cold weather and additional snows. In some instances, such as athletic turf, there is never any intent to protect it with a fungicide. Regardless, the results are the same. Turf fertilized with Nature Safe during the growing season experienced fewer problems with Snow Mold than the surrounding turf that had not had the benefit of Nature Safe. While these results were appreciated, there was no real understanding as to exactly why they occurred.
Interestingly enough, the research conducted on nematode suppression helped provide a plausible answer to the riddle. Nematodes are a big problem on southern turf. Nature Safe greatly reduces nematodes more than what could be achieved with a very toxic chemical like Nemacur. That was somewhat baffling since Nature Safe is totally non-toxic and Nemacur is at the other end of the spectrum with LD50 of somewhere around 5.
Dr. George Lazarovits at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in London, Ontario, Canada discovered that the reason for the nematode suppression was that while soil microbes consume the energy in Nature Safe, they give off gasses that are toxic to some of the pathogens, particularly the parasitic nematodes. Furthermore, Dr. Lazarovits discovered that these gasses were more toxic to pathogens that were in a dormant stage than it was to active pathogens. He explained that pathogens are not very good competitors, but that they are good survivors. The way they survive without competing is to stay in a dormant stage most of the time. They only become active when they sense the host plants are under stress.
The reports of Snow Mold suppression began to make sense. Snow Mold is an organism that lies dormant all summer long waiting for the right winter weather conditions to allow it to get started. If Nature Safe is being applied to the turf on a regular basis during the summer, much of the dormant innoculum would be killed by the toxic gasses being given off by the beneficial microbes. With less innoculum available when winter weather arrives, there would be a lower chance of developing Snow Mold.
Please note that late fall or dormant feed applications of Nature Safe are not sufficient to achieve reduction in Snow Mold. Nature Safe must be used on a regular basis throughout the growing season. I would never recommend that any turf manager even consider skipping his fall application of Snow Mold control chemicals. However, it is not unusual for turf that has been protected by the best of chemicals to still sustain damage from Snow Mold in a severe winter. Nature Safe merely provides an added layer of protection for the turf.
This extra protection comes from the action of the soil microbes consuming the energy that is in Nature Safe. Since Nature Safe provides more food energy for the soil microbes than can be found in any other organic fertilizer, it will also provide the highest level of protection from many different diseases, including Snow Mold.