Already this year extreme weather has been a crucial part of agriculture in our state. One tool Georgia farmers have for dealing with weather is Pam Knox. Pam is an agricultural climatologist who works on getting important weather and climate information to growers. She writes regular short informational pieces that would be of interest to anyone interested in weather and agriculture. CASE:Climate and Agriculture in the Southeast is available to everyone. An example:
Southeast quarterly climate impacts and outlook report now available Sep 25, 2017 | Written by Pam Knox
The Southeast Regional Climate Center has released their latest 3-month seasonal climate summary and outlook for June through August 2017. It includes a look back at the major impacts of this summer’s weather and a look ahead to fall in just two pages. You can read it at https://www.drought.gov/drought/documents/quarterly-climate-impacts-and-outlook-southeast-region-september-2017.
Another one from Dr. Knox:
Interactive drought risk map for the US Sep 26, 2017 | Written by Pam Knox
The American Geosciences Institute has an interesting map of drought risk available at https://www.americangeosciences.org/critical-issues/maps/drought-atlas. It shows a variety of parameters which are related to drought, including rainfall, stream flow and the Drought Monitor map. It also allows you to compare current droughts to previous ones. Check it out!
Remember, information about weather specific to your area is available at georgiaweather.net . This information is collected by weather stations across the state. As an old Irish blessing says, “May the sun shine warm upon your face; may the rain fall soft upon your fields!”
Keeping notes about your garden is worth your time and effort. Knowing when pests or diseases have traditionally first appeared in your garden can help you plan your integrated pest management program. Learning what diseases seem to occur with frequency in your area can help you choose resistant varieties or assist you in your crop rotation plan. This time of year it is important to record which vegetable varieties worked well for you this summer and which ones are not worth planting again.
It is also very interesting to look over several years of your garden’s weather data. Simply recording the first frost dates, temperature highs and lows, and rain amounts can be of use. This year I would add a note of which plants survived Irma. Those would definitely be worth replanting!
There are several ways to record this data easily. First, there are journals designed specifically for gardeners.
Several of them have prompts to inspire you and some of them are have beautiful artwork. You might be more willing to fill these out if you left them in your garden shed or in your tool box. Storing your journal in a waterproof ziplock baggie can help keep the pages clean.
If the idea of all that writing sounds like too much trouble, using a standard wall calendar might be for you. Just getting in the habitat of writing a word or two each time you work in the garden will still be useful. Hang it in the shed or on your mudroom wall. You can even use an on-line photo printing service to create a calendar with photos from your garden! This time of year these services usually have wonderful sales.
For those of you who would rather use your computer, there are several free online garden record keepers that are useful. Some of them even have garden plan templates. Use a search engine like google to find one that fits your needs.
Whatever you record this fall will be of interest this coming spring, I promise!
We usually think of cover crops as tools that farmers use to build soil between seasons of cash crops. According to Using Cover Crops in the Home Garden using cover crops can be beneficial to any gardener. These plants can build the soil, control soil erosion, and limit the spread of certain diseases and insects.
Cover Crop Benefits
For community gardeners, whether you grow in raised bed plots or in the ground, there are substantial benefits here. First, many community gardeners decide not to plant cool-season vegetables. Their plots become a mess of warm-season crop debris, which can harbor insect pests disease. Or, the plots are left bare almost guaranteeing that weedy plants will take over. Using cover crops during the cool-season months solves those issues.
Cover crops can add a nice look to a community garden plot. Many of these plants also attract pollinators and other beneficial insects.
Cover crops can provide a cheap source of nutrition for your garden plants. After maturity the crops are mowed down (use a weed whacker if you garden in a raised bed), left to dry out and are turned into the soil. They decompose in the soil increasing the organic matter. Much less expensive than purchasing bags of organic matter!
Incorporating Cover Crops in Your Garden
So now that you are sold on the benefits of using cover crops during the cool-season, what do you plant? A combination of a cereal grain and a legume is a good choice. An example is wheat, oat, or rye with clover or winter peas. The cereal grain grows quickly while the slower germinating legume takes hold.
Finding small amounts of seeds for a garden plot may be a challenge. Check local feed and seed stores that may sell cover crops by the scoop. Check your seed catalogs. You may want to go in with others in your community garden for seed purchases.
Rhizoctonia large patch is the most common and severe disease of warm season grasses (bermudagrass, centipedegrass, seashore paspalum, St. Augustinegrass, and zoysiagrass) across the state of Georgia. Due to spring and fall disease-promoting environmental conditions across Georgia coinciding with grasses leaving and/or entering dormancy, large patch can appear in warm season grasses in various grass-growing settings, including home lawns, landscapes, sports fields, golf courses, and sod farms. Symptoms of this lawn disease include irregularly-shaped weak or dead patches that are from 2 feet to up to 10 feet in diameter. Inside the patch, you can easily see brown sunken areas. On the edge of the patch, a bright yellow to orange halo is frequently associated with recently affected leaves and crowns. The fungus attacks the leaf sheaths near the thatch layer of the turfgrass.
Large patch disease is favored by:
Excess soil moisture and poor drainage.
Too much shade, which stresses turfgrass and increases moisture on turfgrass leaves and soil.
Early spring and late fall Nitrogen fertilization.
If large patch was diagnosed earlier, fall is the time to control it. There is a myriad of fungicides that can help to control the disease. Fungicides in the following classes are labeled for large patch control: carboxamides, benzimidazoles, carbamates, dicarboximides, DMI fungicides, di-nitro anilines, control. For a complete and updated list of fungicides available for commercial control of large patch, visit http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.cfm?number=SB28 or http://www.commodities.caes.uga.edu/turfgrass/georgiaturf/Publicat/1640_ Recommendations.html. Preventative or curatives (depending on the particular situation) rates of fungicides in late September or early October and repeating the application 28 days later are effective for control of large patch during fall. Fall applications may make treating in the spring unnecessary. Always follow label instructions, recommendations, restrictions and proper handling.
Cultural practices are very important in control. Without improving cultural practices, you may not achieve long term control.
Use low to moderate amounts of nitrogen, moderate amounts of phosphorous and moderate to high amounts of potash. Avoid applying nitrogen when the disease is active.
Avoid applying N fertilizer before May in Georgia. Early nitrogen applications (March-April) can encourage large patch.
Water timely and deeply (after midnight and before 10 AM). Avoid frequent light irrigation. Allow time during the day for the turf to dry before watering again.
Prune, thin or remove shrub and tree barriers that contribute to shade and poor air circulation. These can contribute to disease.
Reduce thatch if it is more than 1 inch thick.
Increase the height of cut. Reduced mowing heights result in a more dense turf stand, which may create a more favorable environment for large patch development
Improve the soil drainage of the turf.
Control traffic patterns to prevent severe compaction, and core aerate to improve soil drainage and increase air circulation around the shoots and root
Fall cultural practices and fungicide applications are key for Spring Dead Spot management. The disease is caused by fungi in the genus Ophiosphaerella (O. korrae, O. herpotricha and O. narmari). These fungi infect roots in the fall predisposing the turf to winter kill. As indicated by its name, initial symptoms of spring dead spot are noticeable in the spring, when turf resumes growth from its normal winter dormancy. As the turf ‘greens-up,’ circular patches of turf appear to remain dormant, roots, rhizomes and stolons are sparse and dark-colored (necrotic). No growth is observed within the patches. Recovery from the disease is very slow. The turf in affected patches is often dead; therefore, recovery occurs by spread of stolons inward into the patch. The causal agents of SDS are most active during cool and moist conditions in autumn and spring. Appearance of symptoms is correlated to freezing temperatures and periods of pathogen activity. Additionally, grass mortality can occur quickly after entering dormancy or may increase gradually during the course of the winter. Spring dead spot is typically more damaging on intensively managed turfgrass swards (such as bermudagrass greens) compared to low maintenance areas.
Practices that increase the cold hardiness of bermudagrass generally reduce the incidence of spring dead spot. Severity of the disease is increased by late-season applications of nitrogen during the previous fall.
Management strategies that increase bermudagrass cold tolerance such as applications of potassium in the fall prior to dormancy are thought to aid in the management of the disease. However, researchers have found that fall applications of potassium at high rates actually increased spring dead spot incidence. Therefore, application of excessive amounts of potassium or other nutrients, beyond what is required for optimal bermudagrass growth, is not recommended.
Excessive thatch favors the development of the disease. Therefore, thatch management is important for disease control,
Implement regular dethatching and aerification activities.
There are several fungicide labeled for spring dead spot control.
Timing, selection and application of fungicides are important for preventative management of SDS. Fungicide application in the fall when soil temperatures are between 60° and 80° F provides the best control of SDS
A complete list of fungicides, formulations and product updates for SDS can be found in the annual Georgia Pest Management Handbook and the Turfgrass Pest Control Recommendations for Professionals (http://www.georgiaturf.com). Some fungicide options are exclusively for golf course settings. Always check fungicide labels for specific instructions, restrictions, special rates, recommendations, follow-up applications and proper handling.
Severe leaf and crown rot, caused by Bipolaris ssp. can occur in bermudagrass lawns, sport fields, or golf fairways. Initial symptoms of this disease include brown to tan lesions on leaves. The lesions usually develop in late September or early October. Older leaves are most seriously affected. Under wet, overcast conditions, the fungus will begin to attack leaf sheaths, stolons and roots resulting in a dramatic loss of turf. Shade, poor drainage, reduced air circulation; high nitrogen fertility and low potassium levels favor the disease. To achieve acceptable control of leaf and crown rot, early detection (during the leaf spot stage) is a crucial.
Dollar spot is still active in the fall/early winter
Dollar spot is most prevalent during spring and fall with infections developing rapidly at temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit combined with long periods of leaf wetness from dew, rain, or irrigation.
Excessive moisture on turfgrass foliage will promote dollar spot epidemics. Irrigating in the late afternoon or evening should be avoided, as this prolongs periods of leaf wetness.
If feasible, prune or remove trees and shrubs to promote air movement and accelerate drying of the turfgrass canopy
A variety of fungicides are available to professional turfgrass managers for dollar spot control including fungicides containing benzimidazoles, demethylation inhibitors (DMI), carboximides, dicarboximides, dithiocarbamates, nitriles and dinitro-aniline. Several biological fungicides are now labeled for dollar spot control.