Snow mold damage in winter wheat is not a surprise with the extremely wet fall and winter months. Add to that the situation of ground having snow cover for a longer than normal period of time and the odds of snow mold damage increases dramatically.
Snow mold sensitivity varies by variety. Most older wheat varieties have a snow mold tolerance rating although some of the newer varieties have not yet received a rate. Check the Washington State Crop Improvement Association's Certified Seed Buying Guide for available snow mold tolerance ratings.
Your greatest areas of concern are where snow has covered the winter wheat for most of the winter. When the snow melts, look to see if the wheat is standing up or matted down from the weight of the snow.
- If the wheat is standing up and looks healthy, it should pull through just fine.
- If the wheat is matted down and infected with snow mold it will be covered by a white-ish fungal growth, or, in the case of pink snow mold, turn a salmon color:
- The fungal growth disappears after a few days of exposure to the sun but take a look at the plants for healthy tissue around the crowns and new tiller starts:
- If the crowns look brown and water soaked, the plants will most likely not recover and reseeding those areas may be necessary.
- If the wheat has healthy looking green tissue it should start to put on new growth and recover.
Early reports from areas that have finally had the snow drifts melt away are seeing some damage from snow mold and will need to reseed some acres. To date, those areas are reported to be smaller than expected.