Monday, April 29, 2013

Large Patch / Brown Patch The Conditions are Right

The cool moist spring has been great for extending the bloom period on azaleas and dogwoods; however, turf fungus seems to be thriving in these conditions.

Large Patch or Brown Patch fungus loves these weather conditions. Temperatures in the high 50’s to low 60’s and moisture make conditions real favorable for Large Patch or Brown Patch fungus. We have had plenty of these conditions making the fungus environment perfect for the spread of this disease.

Since it is very difficult to control night time temperatures, you can put your efforts into doing other cultural things to help minimize the disease. Large Patch or Brown Patch fungus likes wet, heavy thatch, improper nutrition, and/or compacted soils.   Culturally you need to manage your irrigation system, raise any low areas, and correct drainage problems.  Reducing thatch, maintaining proper fertility levels, and aerating to alleviate compaction, will also help control Large Patch or Brown Patch fungus.

Certain organic products have shown to increase microorganisms in the soil that compete with plant pathogenic fungus in the soil. At Possum’s we get good feedback from Nature’s Blend, SeaHume, Crab Shell, Corn Gluten, Cotton Burr Compost, and some of the Roots products. These products are not fungicides; however, people that use them report back to us that they notice less fungus in the yards that they apply these products.

Since the grass is coming out of dormancy so slow, a systemic control product like Cleary’s 3336 and Disarm might be a good idea to get you through the next month or so as long as conditions are favorable for the disease.

Being a soil borne disease, you know that it will reoccur in the same areas year after year.  If the base of a leaf blade with Large Patch is moved from one part of the yard to another (lawn mower), this can begin a new infection area; however, these are not spores flying through the air.  As a soil borne fungus, if you map the areas that you have the disease, you can concentrate your control efforts (dollars) into a smaller area, putting less control products into the environment.  If your yard is 5,000 sq ft usually you might have a few infected areas which might total approx. 500 ft.  Instead of buying control products to treat 5,000 sq ft, you can concentrate your efforts into the 500 ft (i.e. 10% of your total yard).  If Large Patch was an air borne fungus with spores, you would have had to treat the entire yard because air borne fungus spreads a lot quicker than soil borne fungus.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Great Products For Topdressing Your Landscape

As the night time temperatures warm up and the grass starts to actively grow, aerating should be considered for the health of your whole landscape. While you have the holes open in your yard, there are many products that you can add to that root zone area that will benefit your turf, trees, and shrubs.

Aerating reduces compaction, reduces thatch, increases oxygen movement to the roots, brings beneficial microorganisms to the surface, cuts runners, and allows better penetration of water, fertilizers, or control products into the soil.

Right after aerating, while the holes are open, is a good time to add SeaHume G, BGK 7500, products containing mycorrhiza, Crab Shell, Mule Mix and/or Cotton Burr Compost.  Even if you are not aerating, these products are great to add to your lawn and beds.
·        SeaHume G is a bio-stimulant humic acid product that will help your roots grow, soften up the soil, feed beneficial micro-organisms in the soil, make nutrients that are in the soil more available to the plants, and keep fertilizer from leaching.
·        SeaHume G also contains 10% cold water seaweed. The seaweed also acts as a bio-stimulant and is a source of over 60 minor elements, amino acids, and natural chelating agents.
·        BGK 7500 is a granular organic product that has thatch eating bacteria mix in with a 03-03-03 fertilizer. BGK 7500 is also fortified with 6% humic acid.
·        04-04-04 Bolster and other products that contain mycorrhiza. By applying these products while the roots are exposed, the mycorrhiza can attach to the roots quickly. These friendly fungi will help the plant absorb water and nutrients from the soil while competing with bad fungus in the soil.
·        Crab Shell by Neptune’s Harvest will increase the chitin eating bacteria in the soil. These bacteria will help control nematodes and fungus. I would definitely use this product in areas that I have problems with large / brown patch.
·        Mule Mix can last about 20 years in the soil and help manage moisture.  This is a clay product that has been super-heated until it pops!  This makes this product sterile as well as turns it into a little capillary.  This capillary holds water and then releases it as the plant needs it.  This product is used on baseball infields to manage the moisture levels in clay; otherwise the clay would be rock hard or moist and slimy. Mule Mix will also keep fertilizer and water from leaching in sandy soils. Mule Mix is great for wet or dry areas.
·        Cotton Burr Compost will add water holding capabilities to the soil by adding organic matter to the soil.  Cotton Burr Compost will soften up clay as well as giving sandy soil nutrient holding capacity.  Cotton Burr Compost is very high in nutrition and will also help increase populations of beneficial organisms in the soil.

All the above products will help conserve moisture as well.

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

Monday, April 15, 2013


What an interesting winter we had in the Lowcountry! The temperatures never got super cold. I never drained my well (every year for the past 17 years, I have drained my well). The night time temperatures seem to stay in the high thirties and the day time temperatures stayed around the high fifties. In the past, we would get more peaks and valleys (some temperatures freezing in the low to mid-twenties and in March maybe a few days in the eighties).

Fleas love moisture! With the winter we had and the rain that came with it, I’m thinking fleas are going to be extra bad this year. I do not have to have a crystal ball or be a genius to figure this out. I have three stores, and I can look at how many flea control products that we have sold all winter. Knowing that the weather also favors flea population growth, I can go out on a limb (a Horticulture pun) and predict that fleas are going to be bad this year.

Prefurred One or Prefurred Plus are post patented Fipronil products that you apply directly to your dog or cat every 30 days. Being a “generic”, the price has dropped significantly (customers tell us 30 to 50 percent off). Petcor, Biospot or a flea collar will also protect your animal.

Be proactive and treat the house with a product that contains a growth regulator. Precor 2000, Ultracide, I G regulator, IC3 (National Organics Program compliant but no growth regulator) and Alpine Flea Insecticide are a few good products for use in the house. If you apply these products before you have an issue, your success will be much greater and will save you from all the vacuuming, washing of beds and the sleepless nights with a scratching pet.

Treat your yard and bed areas with IC3 (National Organics Program compliant), Essentria G (National Organics Program compliant), Bug Blasters, or Sevin.

By treating the family pet, the home and the yard proactively, you should have good success against the flea. If this sounds like too much work or something you would rather have a professional tackle, there are many good Pest Management Professionals in the area.

If you are thinking about aerating this spring, while you have the holes open in your lawn, some good additives are: SeaHume G, 04-04-04 Bolster, Mule Mix, BGK 7500, Crab Shell and / or Cotton Burr Compost. Get the full benefit from the aeration!

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

Monday, April 8, 2013

Catching Up with Nice Weather

We finally made it to “Spring!” If you have a good handle on you weeds, it is April and you might not have had to mow your grass – crazy! Despite the late start to the 2013 season, there are many fun and beneficial things to do in the yard and around the house.

Aerating the lawn and landscape is always a topic of conversation this time of year.
Aerating does several good things for your lawn, shrubs, and trees. Try to use an aerator that pulls up a plug with a hollow tine instead of a spike type aerator that is just a solid tine going into the ground. By removing cores of soil from your lawn and laying them on top of the ground, all kinds of good things happen. This cultural practice is one of the best for your landscape as a whole. If you can aerate in beds and under trees, that will benefit plants as well.   

Aerating reduces compaction, reduces thatch, increases oxygen movement to the roots, brings beneficial microorganisms to the surface, cuts runners in turf, and allows better penetration of water, fertilizers, or control products into the soil.

You can aerate anytime the grass is actively growing. On our programs, I usually recommend in April before your second application of preemergent, just in case any weed seeds are surfaced and try to germinate.

When you aerate, be sure to mark all your irrigation heads, propane lines, cable lines, night lighting lines and any other wire or pipe you might have running through your lawn, so you do not accidentally add to you work load.

If you have been waiting for the weather to warm up, here is a brief checklist of things that should be done around the yard:
  • Test soil. I was looking at soil tests last night, and I had 2 tests for palm trees that 2 different people had put out way, way, way too much Magnesium. Just because people say that palms like Epsom Salt which is Magnesium sulfate, take a soil test first. You might be wasting your money. This could be true throughout your landscape. Soil test provide valuable information!
  • Apply SeaHume G to lawn and beds
  • Apply Preemergent to lawn and beds (this late use Dimension)
  • Drench Dominion around plants with a history of insect problems
  • Apply preventive fungicide to turf if you have a history of fungus (Cleary’s, Disarm)
  • Mole Crickets overwinter as adults and do their mating flights right now. Kill them now before they can make babies. Be sure your lawn and beds are free of fire ants, and if you have pets, fleas and ticks should be controlled. If you live near the woods, chiggers may be an issue. (Granular Sevin will work on these pest. If you prefer organic, check with a Possum’s near you to find a product or products that will work in your situation.)
  • Go through your irrigation system and be sure everything is operating correctly
Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Termite Swarmers

It is now April and “Spring” is still knocking at the door. The warmer air and light rains could cause termites to swarm. Which is not really a problem itself; however, swarmers could indicate a problem.

Swarmers are winged, flying termites that are generally attracted to light. Certain times a year, termites come out of the ground and fly. These termites do not eat wood, but they are a good indicator that an active colony is nearby. Usually you will see them swarming near an old stump or woodpile. No reason to worry, termites are just Mother Nature’s decomposers.

When you see them in your house or building, there may be colony underneath your structure. First, identify the nuisance to be sure they are not flying ants (look at online pictures, take them to your local Possum’s or local Clemson Extension Office). Ants have a constricted abdomen (like the waist of a body builder) and a termite’s body tapers straight down (more like a middle-aged person). You will usually find termite swarmers and their wings in window sills because they fly towards light.

If you determine that you do have termite swarmers and your house or building is under contract (bond) with a Pest Management Professional, contact them right away. If your house is not under contract, call 3 companies and get estimates. Do not necessarily go with the lowest bid, this is your house we are talking about, look to see what their warranties are, how long they have been in business or do they have referrals you can contact, how often they propose to retreat, do they cover Formosan Termites, who pays for damage, who pays for retreats, how much does the yearly inspection cost …  

Remember the swarmers are a nuisance. They do not eat wood. Kill them just to clean up the mess; however, a soil treatment or a baiting system by a professional is going to be your long term fix. Remember your house is probably your biggest investment.

It is a great time to apply SeaHume and Cotton Burr Compost by Back To Nature (watch out for imposters of the Cotton Burr Compost) to your lawn and beds. 04-00-10 (Perk) with its root enhancer technology is great for the lawn as it comes out of dormancy. 17-00-09 that is 100% slow release and loaded with minors will get your trees and shrubs off to a healthy start. These damp cool days are fungi’s dream conditions, so an application of a preventive fungicide is a good idea. Protect your new leaves as they emerge from your shrubs and trees from fungus and disease. Preemerge?

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