Landscape Alerts and Updates – MAY 2017

Slime Mold on Turfgrasses

Has your lawn been slimed?  Fear not, the grayish-black sooty substance on your turfgrass is a harmless soil protozoa that has temporarily migrated onto blades and stems to produce and disperse spores.  Diagnosis: Slime Mold,  Physarum and Fuligo sp./spp.  The occurrence is prompted by spells of humid, rainy weather during spring and early summer and is typically short-lived (1-2 weeks).  Aside from temporarily hindering photosynthesis, slime molds do not parasitize or damage the turfgrass.   Slime mold can be ignored, mowed, raked, or washed off with a pressurized stream of water.

Related Articles: what-is-this-unusual-growth-on-lawns


Lawn Burweed

If you missed the window of opportunity to manage burweed in your lawn in late winter/early spring, then you may be feeling it, literally!  The seed burs are now mature and a barefoot stroll across the lawn may inflict you with some painful hitchhikers.  At this point, applying a broadleaf herbicide product may kill the weed, but will not eliminate the existing burs that have formed, so mark your calendars for burweed scouting and control next February.  If an immediate solution is needed, locate individual plants and physically remove them.  Burweed tends to colonize compacted bare areas. For large areas of infestation it may be necessary to scalp and bag the clippings with a mower to remove the burs, followed by turfgrass renovation or establishment on those areas (assuming that you have a warm-season turfgrass species such as bermudagrass, it would not be advisable to scalp a Tall Fescue lawn in May).  For more information on scouting for lawn burweed, refer to the previous post “Winter Scouting for Lawn Burweed.”

Related articles: winter-scouting-for-burweed-soliva-pterosperma


Turf Aerification

Now is the time to aerify warm-season turfgrasses.  Last year, the dry conditions persisting from August through December depleted carbohydrate reserves in warm-season turfgrasses. A delay in turfgrass green-up was common this spring and warm-season turfgrasses are poised to replenish carbohydrate reserves and restore root systems.  “If there is a year to seriously consider core aerification, this is it,” says Dr. Clint Waltz, a Cooperative Extension turfgrass specialist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.  Core aerification relieves compaction, improves air exchange and water infiltration, and stimulates deeper root growth.  Hollow-tine aerification is the preferred method, removing soil cores to a depth of 3-4 inches, and having longer-lasting benefits.  A light fertilizer application in concert with aerification can be beneficial, but heavy nitrogen applications should be avoided to allow for the replenishment of carbohydrate reserves (over-stimulating top growth depletes carbohydrates reserves).

To make sure soil pH, phosphorus and potassium levels are within recommended ranges for optimum growth, take a soil sample to your local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office.

Read the full article on Core Aerification and find lawn care calendars for different turfgrass species at www.GeorgiaTurf.com .

Related Articles and Publications:

Turfgrass Fertility: Soil Texture, Organic Matter, Aeration, and pH (C 1058-1)


 

 

Aerification: Restoring Turfgrass Carbohydrate Reserves

Dr. Clint Waltz, Extension Turfgrass Specialist with the University of Georgia, reports that hot temperatures and low rainfall in the fall of 2016 likely sent warm-season turfgrasses into winter dormancy with depleted carbohydrate reserves. During “normal” circumstances warm-season turfgrasses accumulate and store carbohydrates from late summer through early fall.  Last year, non-irrigated turfgrasses likely suffered drought-induced dormancy and transitioned to winter a weakened condition.  With insufficient energy accumulated in root systems, a thin canopy and a two- to four-week delay in the green-up of warm-season grasses might be common this spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What can be done to improve the green-up and growth of warm-season turfgrasses this spring?

1) AERIFICATION – Core aerification in late April to mid-May.  This will improve air exchange and water infiltration to stimulate root and shoot growth.  Performing hollow-tine aerification that removes 1/2 inch diameter soil cores to a 3 or 4 inch depth is the recommended approach.

2) TIMING OF FERTILIZER – Withhold the application of nitrogen fertilizer until soil temperatures at the 4-inch depth are consistently 65 degrees and rising.  Visit www.Georgiaturf.com to find lawn calendars that include fertility recommendations for each species.  Soil temperature data from the Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring System can be found at www.Georgiaweather.net.

3) SOIL TESTING – Collect a soil sample and submit for testing to ensure that soil Ph, phosphorous, and potassium levels are within the recommended ranges for optimum growth.  Contact your local UGA Extension Agent about submitting a soils sample to the UGA Agriculture and Environmental Services Laboratory or call 1-800-ASK-UGA1.

Restoring carbohydrate reserves this spring is an important step in preparing turfgrasses for a healthy growing season.  Read the full article by Dr. Clint Waltz at www.Georgiaturf.com.

Weed Scouting in Mid-Winter

Weeds can be a major pest of lawns and recreation fields, competing for resources and sunlight while detracting from their natural beauty.

If your spring checklist includes lawn weed management, now is the time to take a closer look at the tiny mat of weed seedlings forming in mid-winter (Jan-Feb.), especially during spells of mild weather and precipitation. The winter-weed inventory is likely to include a mix of early-stage cool-season annual and perennial weeds such as chickweed, henbit, clover, annual bluegrass, burweed, and wild garlic. One advantage of mid-winter weed scouting and management is that many weeds are in the early growth stages and can be effectively controlled by herbicide treatments. In addition, warm-season turfgrasses such as bermudagrass and zoysiagrass are dormant and less susceptible to herbicide injury than during spring green up. Mid-winter is an excellent time to scout for cool-season weed species and get an early jump on management while conditions are favorable.

Below are examples of lawn weeds commonly observed in mid-winter:

Pictured above: Henbit (left), Plantain (center), Tall Fescue in bermuda (right).

POSTEMERGENCE WEED CONTROL

Selective control of broadleaf and grassy weeds in turfgrass can be an effective strategy in mid-winter using the appropriate postemergence herbicide product(s). It should be noted that during the winter months the visible effects of certain herbicides may be masked by cool weather (the weeds may be dead and not know it yet!) Mature perennial weeds such as dandelion, clover, and undesired patches of tall fescue can be effectively spot-treated during mid-winter using selective and non-selective herbicides. It is essential to select products appropriate for the particular species or turfgrass when selecting herbicides. St. Augustinegrass and Centipedegrass are particularly susceptible to certain herbicide injuries, even during the winter months. Combination products containing fertilizer and herbicides may be appropriate for weed control in cool-season turfgrass species such as Tall Fescue during the late winter. However, combination products containing nitrogen fertilizer are NOT recommended for warm-season grasses during the winter months. Applying nitrogen to dormant warm-season grasses in mid-winter does not provide benefits to the turfgrass and promotes the development of diseases such as large patch.

Remember, turfgrass and weed identification is essential to determining the appropriate herbicide product, timing, and application rate. There are no miracle products or “one size fits all” solutions to weed control. Herbicide recommendations are based on many factors including the turfgrass species, weed species, temperature range, and environmental factors. For assistance with turfgrass and weed identification, contact your local UGA Extension Agent at 1-800-ASK-UGA1.

Download the 2017 Turfgrass Pest Control Recommendations for Professionals at www.GeorgiaTurf.com for the latest information on weed management, scheduling, and pesticide information.

References:

McCullough, Patrick E. PhD, Waltz, Clint PhD, (2015). UGA Extension Bulletin (C 978). “Weed Control in Home Lawns.”

Drought Response Level 2: Outdoor Watering Information

Prolonged dry weather has prompted an elevated drought response for northwest Georgia. Effective November 17, 2016, fifty-two counties have entered a drought response level 2 and fifty-eight counties are exercising a drought response level 1.  Rainfall has been scarce since August and water conservation is the banner message.  The Georgia Water Stewardship Act of 2010 establishes certain outdoor watering protocols to conserve water during times of drought.  These rules apply to all properties served by state permitted water systems.

Highlights of Drought Response Level 1:
A drought response level 1 initiates a public information campaign to explain drought conditions and the need for water stewardship and conservation.  Normal outdoor watering should follow best management practices and is allowed between the hours of 4:30pm and 10am any day of the week.

Highlights of Drought Response Level 2:
For existing landscapes, a drought response level 2 initiates the odd/even watering schedule by address for sprinkler systems.  For even addresses (ending in zero, 2,4,6,8) watering is allowed as needed on Wednesdays and Saturdays between the hours of 4pm and 10am.  For odd addresses (ending in 1,3,5,7,9) watering is allowed as needed on Thursdays and Sundays between the hours of 4pm and 10am.  Sprinkler systems should always be properly maintained and adjusted.  Evapotranspiration is much lower during the fall and winter and minimal irrigation is needed to prevent winter desiccation using a rate of 1/2 inch precipitation per week or less during periods of dry weather.

New Landscapes:
Under all levels of drought response, a 30 day exemption period is allowed for the establishment of new landscapes. Once the establishment period has expired, drought response watering practices should be followed accordingly.

Other Allowable Exemptions:
Handwatering using a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle
Food gardens
Hydroseeding
Drip irrigation or soaker hoses
Horticulture crops intended for sale, resale, or installation
Athletic fields, golf courses, and public recreation areas
Maintenance or calibration of an irrigation system
Water from private wells and bodies of water on property (not exceeding state withdrawal limits)
Water from an alternate source (grey water, rain water, air-conditioner condensate)
Commercial Pressure Washing

Summary:
Stay informed on the latest drought information for your area (see helpful resources and information below).  While natural precipitation is generally sufficient to prevent plant desiccation in established landscapes during fall and winter, extremely dry conditions may require supplemental watering to help mitigate plant damage. Follow responsible watering practices and properly manage irrigation systems to protect plant health while promoting a culture of water conservation in Georgia.  Register for training opportunities such as the upcoming “Irrigation Training for Landscape Professionals” at the EDGE Expo at the Gwinnett Infinite Energy Center on December 8, 2016.

For more information on proper watering practices and training opportunities, contact your local UGA Extension Agent or call 1-800-ASK-UGA1.

Helpful Resources and Information:
http://extension.uga.edu/publications/
www.GeorgiaTurf.com
www.GeorgiaWatersmart.com
https://epd.georgia.gov/water-conservation

 

A Rough End to the Season for Warm-season Turfgrasses

The lack of rainfall in the second half of the growing season has hindered the production and storage of energy that normally takes place in warm-season turfgrasses from late summer through fall.  In effect, warm-season turfgrasses could enter winter dormancy with depleted carbohydrate reserves.  Dr. Clint Waltz, Extension Turfgrass Specialist with the University of Georgia, is concerned that winter hardiness and spring green-up issues could result from a rough end to the growing season.  The weather over the next few weeks will decide how warm-season turfgrasses cross the finish line into dormancy.

“The limiting factor is water,” said Waltz. The biological activity that is necessary to gather and store carbohydrates requires water and we need some rain.  With soil temperatures at the 4″ depth holding in the 60’s for October and the forecast through the end of the month calling for high temperatures near 80 degrees for much of the state, there may be some opportunity for growth where irrigation is available.  However, gains will be marginal as the day length, temperatures, and radiant heat levels continue to drop.  Applying 1/2″ inch of irrigation per week may be sufficient to help mitigate spring green-up issues and prevent crown desiccation if dry weather continues.  Fertilizer is NOT recommended for warm-season grasses at this point in the season, especially nitrogen.  Applications of potassium are generally recommended to promote winter hardiness, but without adequate water, the benefits of these applications may not be fully realized.

What can turf managers do to prepare?  Irrigate if you can, do not fertilize, minimize mowing and wear damage, and avoid practices such as aeration that would induce additional plant stress as the turfgrass enters dormancy.  When using irrigation systems, be sure to follow the parameters of the Georgia Water Stewardship Act of 2010 and stay informed on the latest drought information at www.georgiawatersmart.com. For more information on landscape watering visit www.Georgiaturf.com and download the publication “Best Management Practices for Landscape Water Conservation.” Most importantly, contact your local UGA County Extension Agent at http://extension.uga.edu/about/county/index.cfm or call 1-800-ASK-UGA1

Water Conservation and Drought Awareness: Information about the Georgia EPD Drought Level 1 Response

On September 9, 2016, a drought level 1 response was issued by GEPD for 53 counties in northwest and central Georgia. Georgia’s drought management plan, as outlined by the Georgia Water Stewardship Act of 2010, establishes a three-tiered approach to water resource conservation and monitoring.  The first tier of the system is called “Drought Level 1” and initiates a conservation and public awareness campaign by local water utilities in affected counties. Look for forthcoming information regarding the drought level 1 response from local water authorities in these counties to help citizens better understand drought, its impact on water supplies and the need for indoor and outdoor water conservation.  drought_level_1_9-15-2016

 

Outdoor watering: Is it okay to plant trees and irrigate turfgrass?  Yes, normal outdoor watering is allowed between the hours of 4pm and 10am and new landscapes can be watered any day, any time for 30 days in accordance with the Georgia Water Stewardship Act. However, proper plant care and responsible watering practices should always be followed.

Contact your local University of Georgia Extension Agent for scientific publications, bulletins, and fact sheets regarding plant care and irrigation practices. Key practices include mulching, proper plant selection, raising mower heights, and proper irrigation.  In addition, the Georgia Urban Ag Council and the Georgia Green Industry Association launched a website called Georgiawatersmart.com outlining best management practices for indoor and outdoor water conservation.

According to the 2012 Annual Report, the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District estimates that the 15 County Metro Atlanta area reduced per capita water consumption by as much as 20% between 2000 to 2010 through local water stewardship and conservation efforts. Spread the word about water conservation and drought awareness and stay informed on the latest practices for managing drought stressed landscapes.  For more information about the level 1, 2, and 3 drought responses, visit the Water Conservation page of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division website.

Related Articles:

Tips for Managing Drought Stressed Turfgrass

Drought Level 1 Declared in Georgia

 

 

Pesticide Waste Collection (Clean Day) Event

The Georgia Dept. of Agriculture will host a Pesticide Waste Collection (Clean Day) event on September 30, 2106 at the Cordele State Farmers Market in Crisp County from 9:00am to 3:00pm. The Georgia Department of Agriculture is excited to have the funding to support this excellent program as a benefit to all Georgia citizens and the environment. The collection day is open to all who would like to participate.  Due to collection limits, pre-registration is required and must be completed by September 26, 2016.  Additional information and registration forms can be found online at http://agr.georgia.gov/georgia-clean-day.aspx

Don’t leave pesticide waste sitting around in storage waiting for an accident or spill to happen, take advantage of this rare opportunity to dispose of pesticide waste safely and responsibly.

For more information, please contact:

Rick Hayes
Georgia Department of Agriculture
19 MLK Jr. Dr. Room 410
Atlanta, Ga. 30334
Office: 404-656-4958 Ext. 4113
E-Mail: ricky.hayes@agr.georgia.gov

Related Post:

Disposing of Excess Pesticides in a Safe Manner

Tips for Managing Drought Stressed Turfgrass

Turfgrass_Drought

Tips for Managing Drought Stressed Turfgrass

During periods of hot and dry weather, certain modifications to your lawn maintenance practices will help to carry your turfgrass through periods of inadequate rainfall and reduce losses. The height of the warm-season turfgrass growing season spans May through August. Given average conditions (regular rainfall and moderate temperatures), bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, St. Augustinegrass, centipedegrass, and other warm-season species respond quickly to cultural and maintenance practices such as mowing, fertilizing, aerating, topdressing, and weed management.  However, the summer of 2016 has delivered hot and dry weather with less than normal rainfall.  With August approaching, now is the time to fine tune your turf management program to salvage an acceptable appearance while minimizing growth until environmental factors improve.

The first order of business is to recognize moisture stress in turfgrasses in the early stages.  Look for areas with a dull bluish-gray cast. Additionally, take note of footprints and tire tracks in the turf that do not seem to rebound.

Dr. Clint Waltz, UGA Extension Turfgrass Specialist, suggests these tips for managing turfgrass during drought periods:

  1. Raise the cutting height within the recommended mowing range
  2. Reduce fertilizer applications until conditions improve
  3. Modify herbicide programs during high temperatures and moisture stress
  4. Water deeply & Infrequently
  5. Grasscycle
  6. Use water conserving and drought tolerant turfgrasses

Raise the Cutting Height

Turfgrass stress can be reduced by using a sharp mower blade and raising the cutting height by 1/2″ or to the tallest allowable height of the recommended mowing range during drought.  A clean cut also reduces moisture loss through wounds and minimizes entry points for disease.  Taller shoots promote deeper roots and a dense canopy can help to reduce ground surface temperatures and conserve moisture.  Grasscycling (mulching clippings versus bagging) can also help to conserve moisture.

Reduce Nitrogen Applications

Plant growth requires water.  Without water, the benefits of nitrogen are not optimized and you may be wasting product. Promoting heavy top growth amidst drought conditions increases water demand. Reduce rates or postpone fertilizer applications until environmental conditions improve to fully realize the benefits of fertilizer while saving water and reducing turfgrass stress.

Modify Herbicide Programs During High Temperatures and Drought

Many herbicides act upon plant growth processes and can be less effective during periods of drought when weeds are not actively growing. In addition, certain herbicides may cause damage to drought-stressed turf or non-target landscape plants due to volatilization and drift during high temperatures. Review your pesticide labels for specific information regarding temperature requirements, watering requirements, and proper application.

Water Deeply and Infrequently

The optimum watering schedule can be roughly determined by observing the number of days that pass between signs of moisture stress. Apply sufficient water to saturate the root zone to a depth of 6-8 inches.  Clay soils and sloped areas may require staggered watering intervals to allow time for water infiltration between cycles and prevent runoff.  Irrigating in early morning conserves water by reducing evaporation and drift.  A good practice is to align watering schedules with drought management rules so that in the event of a declared drought, the appropriate watering program is already in place.  As of July 26, 2016 there are no official declarations of drought by state or local authorities in Georgia and responsible landscape and lawn watering may take place between the hours of 4:00pm and 10:00am in accordance with the Georgia Water Stewardship Act of 2010. In the event that water resources require a drought response level 2, watering programs would need to be adjusted for the odd-even schedule by address.

Use Water Conserving and Drought Tolerant Turfgrass Cultivars

The University of Georgia Turfgrass breeding programs continue to make excellent strides in developing improved cultivars with low water use and high drought tolerance. For new installations or where turfgrass replacement is needed, look for improved certified cultivars such as TifTuf bermuda.  Visit www.GeorgiaTurf.com for more information on selecting turfgrasses.


THE LOOK AHEAD: JULY & AUGUST

DATE:TITLEDESCRIPTIONDETAILS
July 27UAC Industry Issues Lunch + Learn.

Details & Registration

Beat the Heat and Earn 2 Category 24 GA Pesticide Recertification Credits or 1 PrivateLOCATION: Snellings Walters Insurance Agency, 1117 Perimeter Center W, Atlanta GA 30338
TIME: 11:30 am – 1:30 pm
COST: $20 for UAC members/$25 for visitors. Registration includes lunch.
August 4UGA Turfgrass Research Field Day

Details & Registration

Acres of Information & CEU Credits.  Discover the latest turfgrass information, products, and equipment.LOCATION: UGA-Griffin Campus 1109 Experiment Street
Griffin, GA 30223
TIME: 8:00 am – 2:30 pm
COST: Visit georgiaturf.com for Registration Details
August 9Georgia Certified Plant Professional  (Plant ID & Written Exams)

Details & Registration

The Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture Offers Achievement, Advancement, & Credibility through Professional Certification.LOCATION: Gwinnett Technical College
5150 Sugarloaf Pkwy, Lawrenceville, GA 30043
TIME: 9:30 am – 1:30 pm
COST: $165 For details, visit gcpp.info
August 31 – September 1SEGreen Landscape & Plant Conference

Details & Registration

See, hear, and make more green at SEGreen, the roadmap to the future for Southeast growers, landscapers, and retailers.LOCATION: Athens Classic Center
300 N Thomas St, Athens, GA 30601
TIME: 7:00 am – 6:00 pm
COST: For details, visit segreen.org
August 31 – September 1(SEGreen Conf.)
Georgia Certified Landscape Professional (Written & Hands-On Exams)Details & Registration
The Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture Offers Achievement, Advancement, & Credibility through Professional Certification.LOCATION: Athens Classic Center
300 N Thomas St, Athens, GA 30601
TIME: 7:00 am – 6:00 pm
COST: $165 For details, visit gcpp.info

Spring Green Up: Timing Nitrogen Applications by Temperature

“When soil temperatures consistently measure 65 degrees (F) at the 4″ depth and are trending upwards, it’s time to fertilize warm-season turf,” says Dr. Clint Waltz, UGA Turfgrass Extension Specialist.  Resisting the temptation to fertilize warm-season turf too early in the season not only conserves valuable time and resources, but encourages a healthy competitive lawn.  Spring season air temperatures often fluctuate from lows in the mid 40’s to highs in the mid 70’s, resulting in wide swings in soil temperature.  The best time to fertilize warm-season turfgrasses such as bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, St. Augustinegrass, and centipedegrass is during the active growth season spanning May through August when air temperatures reach highs in the mid 80’s to 90’s and soil temperatures remain well above 65 degrees.

Read more

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 www.GeorgiaTurf.com.

Hyperlink:<www.commodities.caes.uga.edu/turfgrass/georgiaturf/Publicat/Sod_Survey/2016%20Sod%20Survey%20UAC.pdf>