The 2016 Sod Forecast has Arrived

The Sod Forecast has Arrived

The Georgia Urban Ag. Council has released their twenty-second annual sod producer survey outlining the inventory levels and pricing data for spring 2016.  The sod forecast provides the green industry with valuable insight when estimating expenses and availability for the upcoming season.  Dr. Clint Waltz, Extension Turfgrass Specialist with the University of Georgia, notes that the inventory for all warm-season species is expected to improve marginally over the previous two years and half of the larger growers predict a poor supply of bermudagrass for early 2016. Sod prices for 2016 are expected to stabilize at 4% to 15% over 2015.

Looking ahead, 57% of growers have indicated an increase in production acreage for 2016 to meet the anticipated market demand for 2017 and 2018.  According to Waltz, there are still 45% to 52% fewer acres in turfgrass production relative to pre-recession levels, but it appears that the total acres in turfgrass production are rebounding. His advice: “Don’t let sticker shock curtail projects, plan ahead.”

For the full report, refer to the January/February 2016 issue of Urban Ag Council Magazine or visit


Winter Scouting for Burweed (Soliva pterosperma)


Winter is the time to scout for lawn burweed (Soliva pterosperma), a broadleaf weed producing seed clusters in mid to late spring that delivers a rather irritating jab to bare feet.  The tiny spines on the seeds are actually quite fragile and tend to break off in your skin during the removal process, leaving an itchy reminder of their presence.  My children who love to run barefoot in the backyard can testify to the annual “de-spurring” event each spring.

December through February is the best time to manage this cool season annual because plants are juvenile and haven’t developed the seed burs. In addition, warm season turf species are dormant and have a better tolerance to certain herbicides. While control is possible in spring, spurs have already formed and will persist after treatment.  If the spurs are not a concern, the weeds will take care of themselves by May as the hot weather sets in and concludes the annual life cycle of this bandit.  A dense canopy of dormant or actively growing turf can deter weed establishment.

For broadleaf herbicide recommendations, reference the UGA Pest Management Handbook for your specific turf. Perform scouting several weeks after the application to determine if follow-up applications are necessary.

Other resources on this topic:

Willie Chance. (2015, May 5). Lawn burweed: What is this weed with sharp spurs in lawns? [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

Winter Bloom: Will the Azaleas Flower Again this Spring?

Dr. Bodie Pennisi, University of Georgia Horticulture Extension Specialist, reports that the azaleas will likely still bloom, only with a few less flowers.  “Many of the flower buds remained dormant during the warm spell. Keep in mind however, that the flower buds on azaleas developed last summer and any pruning done prior to the spring will potentially remove those flower buds.” The same applies to Hydrangea macrophylla (Bigleaf Hydrangea) and H. quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea). Microclimates also affect cold damage, for example, overhangs, tree canopies, evergreen shrubs, and built features in the landscape often provide frost protection, buffer against radiant heat loss, and provide wind breaks.  Flower buds can be inspected for cold damage by opening a bud and looking for brown or black water-soaked tissues, indicating ruptured cells.

So far, January has delivered steady cool temperatures and allowed most plants to adjust to the cold with minimal damage.  Typically, it is the rapid fluctuations from warm to cold that cause issues, so we shall see what unfolds over the next few weeks.

Suggested Readings:

Westerfield, R., Lindstrom, O. PhD, (2015). UGA Extension Bulletin (C 872). “Winter Protection of Ornamental Plants.”

The Window to Plant Spring-Flowering Bulbs is Closing


Daffodil (Narcissus sp.) bulbs and other spring-flowering bulb-like plants (corms, tubers, tuberous roots, and rhizomes) make excellent additions to the landscape.  These plants add color and interest to the late winter/early spring garden while other plants are still dormant.  They can be placed most anywhere in the garden and make great additions to beds, borders, and containers.

The ideal planting time for spring-flowering bulbs is fall to mid-winter to allow enough chilling time (below 40-50 degrees) to induce flowering.  For landscape companies looking to generate some wintertime business, perhaps a bulb planting service in order.  Established daffodils have already started to emerge and the window for planting is closing fast, so grab your planting tools and get to work!

Plant Narcissus bulbs 3-6” deep, root side down of course, and backfill with a clean topsoil.  Fertilize during planting and just after flowering to provide plants with adequate nutrients for next year’s flowers.  For more information on selecting, planting, and installing bulbs, refer to UGA Extension Bulletin (B 918), “Flowering Bulbs for Georgia Gardens.”


Thomas, P.A., Wade, G.L., Pennisi, B. PhD, (October 2012). Flowering Bulbs for Georgia Gardens. Retrieved from 918_3.PDF

The Rains and Unusual Weather of December 2015

Winter Arrives after Unusual December

The conclusion of 2015 marked one of the soggiest Decembers on record with many areas of the state receiving in excess of 13 inches for the month (roughly 20% of the annual rainfall.) In addition, high temperatures hovered in the mid 70’s for much of December leaving Bermuda lawns green and irises, roses, magnolias, and azaleas blooming.  Perpetual rainfall kept soils waterlogged for an extended period of time and many folks ended the season wondering how the unusual weather might affect their gardens.

Total Precipitation – December 2015 2014
Blairsville 13.35” 3.06”
Griffin 13.94” 5.41”
Tifton 8.41” 6.48”

University of Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network

Average Daily Temperatures – December 2015 2014
Avg. Max. Temp. (°F) Avg. Min. Temp. (°F) Avg. Max. Temp. (°F) Avg. Min. Temp. (°F)
Blairsville 62.01 41.21 54.68 33.82
Griffin 66.29 48.22 58.19 39.16
Tifton 70.65 52.47 63.94 44.59

University of Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network

Will the azaleas bloom again this spring? Read more at Alerts.