Monday, August 22, 2016

Get Winter Weeds Before They Get You



The time has come! Stop the ‘Weed Apocalypse’ now! Many terrorist of different genus and species are prepared to attack you where you live! Prepare to fight! Stop the spread of the obnoxious weed species now before it is too late! Weeds cause disease and mayhem! Weed jihad against your yard and flower beds! When the temperature is so hot, winter weeds are probably the last thing on your mind. Just like football, deer hunting, volleyball, and shrimp baiting season, winter weeds are coming.

What you are targeting now are small seeded winter annual weeds.  These are weeds that germinate from seeds late summer, grow into plants during the winter, then flower and produce seed for the following year in early spring.  The seeds lay dormant over the summer, and then germinate late summer to begin another life cycle. 

Some examples of the most common winter annual weeds are annual bluegrass (Poa annua), chickweed, Carolina geranium, and Henbit.  The weed that we get the most complaints about is annual bluegrass.  It is the grassy weed with the white seed head in late March, early April.  If you control your winter weeds now with a preemergent herbicide, you usually will not have to mow your grass until later.  All of these weeds are very visible in a brown dormant grass. These weeds also compete with your existing turf when it tries to come out of dormancy in April. 

A couple of weeds that are not annual weeds that are visible at the same time are Dollar weed and Florida Betony (rattlesnake or artichoke weed).  These weeds require different control methods since they are not coming up from seed.

Many customers of ours at Possum’s have reported a drastic reduction in Florida Betony by using the higher rate of Dimension right now. I have done research for the manufacturer (Dow AgroSciences) and have shown great results in all my test plots.  Technically, since Dow did not pay the EPA the money to add this application to the label because this weed is not significant enough in their eyes to recoup the money paid to the EPA, I cannot recommend this application. If you have Florida Betony and are going to use a preemergent product for annual bluegrass, you might want to give a product containing Dimension a try.

Dimension comes in many strengths, so be sure you purchase the correct one. We see many national companies (and some local companies) selling the lower active ingredient product (0.10%, 0.13%, and 0.15%) and not advising the customer about the higher use rates required in the Coastal South for this product.

Preemergent products do what their name implies.  These products kill the weeds seed before it can emerge from the ground.  By killing the weed before it emerges from the ground, you are making your life a lot easier.  Killing weeds after they emerge (post-emergent) is much harder on you and your grass. 

Be careful to read and follow product labels so that you do not over-apply products.  Since a lot of people put out preemergent products as a granular, be careful not to overlap too much or you can damage your turf. 

Now is the time to put out preemergent products (two weeks before the soil temperatures are ready for winter weeds to germinate).  Various fertilizers such as; 16-00-08, 15-00-15, 00-00-07and 23-00-08 combined with preemergent will give your lawn and shrubs (don’t forget the shrubs!) one last feeding of nitrogen for the year while controlling the weeds.  Usually you will want to come back with another preemergent in 6-10 weeks depending on the products you use and the weather conditions. 

Mosquito invasion! Don’t get me started….

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Roaches



Over the weekend, Paul Mulkey and I got a call (“The Garden Clinic”, Saturdays from noon to 1:00, on 1250 WTMA) about a cockroach that was mainly living outside the caller’s house. The caller didn’t think it was an American cockroach (aka Palmetto Bug), so I was thinking it must be an oriental cockroach. The oriental cockroach has wings; however, it doesn’t fly. The Palmetto bug loves to fly when it is hot, and the caller was sure it was flying near his porch light, so it might have been some young American roaches.

Although this is the Horticulture Hotline, I decided to write about entomology (insects) today. The old cockroach has found its way into many Lowcountry homes.  Contact your pest management company if you have a contract or consider getting on a contract if you do not like dealing with cockroaches.  If you are a die hard do-it-yourselfer, here are a few tips that will make your battle a little more effective. 

Treat your outside perimeter. A band about three feet from your house generally in the mulch is a good place to start. A granular product like Bug Blaster in the mulch beds surrounding your house will help kill the roaches before they get inside your house. A NOP (National Organics Program) organic product that is very effective is InTice Perimeter Bait. Using a spray around windows, doors, garage entry, and any other entry point to your house will also keep them from entering your house. EcoVia is a NOP product you can use around the outside and inside of your house.   

Underneath your house, consider dusting with a boric acid product. BorActin is a NOP product labeled for this or you could use the InTice Perimeter Bait. These products will last a long time in the crawl space of your house because they are away from sunlight and moisture. 

In your house, consider using InVict Gold cockroach gel. InVict Gold is a fast acting bait that has our customers at Possum’s singing it’s praises. The bait products are great because they move throughout the roach population.  Maxforce Gel capitalize on roaches nasty habits needed to survive, making these products very effective.  An immature roach has to eat the fecal pellets of the adult roach in order to mature into an adult roach.  Roaches also cannibalize each other.  By using this bait, you get a domino effect by the little roaches eating the fecal pellets of an adult that has consumed the bait.  When one roach dies from the bait, then another eats the dead roach, it will also die.  In wall voids you can also use InTice Perimeter Bait. 

There are many good aerosols that come with a long straw that are designed to be sprayed in cracks and crevices.  Now there is a good selection of “green” aerosols to choose from along with the old standbys. If you treat the outdoors and use a gel, an aerosol application probably will not be necessary.   

Definitely consider using a growth regulator to help lengthen your control of the roaches.  Generally, growth regulators are very safe to humans if applied properly, and some will also help with fleas (Nylar). Growth regulators will keep roaches from reproducing; therefore, breaking up their life cycle. 

Knowing where to put these products is crucial for the success.  Always read, understand and follow the product label.  There are also many pest control companies that are well established in this area and are very capable of taking care of any of your uninvited guests. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, this article should help and the products suggested should work well.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Late Summer Insects and Pests



Insects seem to be the main pest at the Possum’s counter this week. Armyworms, chinch bugs, fleas, roaches (hey, it is Charleston, they like the world’s best city also) and mosquitoes have been attacking our Lowcountry homes and yards.

Armyworms are chowing down on grass throughout the area. Athletic fields, Golf Courses, and home lawns lose the aesthetic value of the green grass, and the worms thin the canopy of the grass where weeds will move in if given a chance. Prostrate growing weeds like spurge, lespedeza and Virginia button weed seem to come in the fastest.

What bothers me the most is you work all summer on your grass to have it looking nice, and once the grass starts to slow down for the winter, fall army worms and then sod webworms attack the grass. Look for areas that appeared to have been mowed low and with a dull blade. You can see that the leaf blades have been chewed. Also thatch type debris will be churned up on the surface. Birds and low flying wasps are also predators of armyworms. Thanks to cell phones, last year, I took a cool picture of a wasp attacking the head of an armyworm.

Since army worms are in direct contact with the ground, they are very easy to control. Bug Blaster, Bifen, Sevin, and Acephate will all put a hurting on armyworms. Thuricide (Bt), Eco Via and Spinosad are organic products that will also work well if you get them while the worms are small. Since the population of worms is so high and hit so hard, keep your eye out for a second hatching.

For those of you with St. Augustine and Centipede, keep your eye out for the sod web worm. Watch for moths in your yard around dusk. If you begin to see a moth that gets out of the grass, flies for 6-10 feet then lands again (like a bobwhite quail for you bird hunters) you may want to consider using one of the above mentioned products. Usually sod web worms would not come out until September / October; however, with the crazy weather we are having, scouting for them could not hurt.

We are approaching the time to put out preemerge products in the lawn and beds to prevent those small seeded annual weeds. Henbit, chickweed, Poa annua (annual bluegrass), cudweed and lawn burweed are a few of the winter weeds that would like to occupy your lawn and flower beds. Poa annua (the green grass that is very visible in February and March) and lawn burweed (the prostrate growing weed that develops a sticker) are usually the most hated of the winter weeds. Some people use profanity while describing them at the counter of Possum’s! 

If your yard has thatch, drainage, or compaction issues, now is a great time to aerate your lawn (and beds where possible) before you apply your fall preemerge. Aeration is a great cultural practice, which will among other things help your roots grow throughout the winter giving you a head start for the spring. Bringing thatch eating microbes to the surface will help manage your thatch and therefore fungus.  

The “nasty rascal the chinch bug” is still sucking the life out of many lawns. They are a very small insect. A chinch bug is a little bigger than the period at the end of this sentence and they move very fast. They are very difficult to point out to people; even though, there are hundreds of them sucking the life out of their grass.

Fleas, mosquitoes and/or roaches?

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.