Monday, August 27, 2018

Kill the Weeds you See in the Spring Now!

Horticulture Hotline 08/27/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

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, the time to control winter weeds is here. If you have read this column over the past 29 years, you have probably read a column or two about preventing winter weeds; however, as you know, many new people move to the Charleston area every day.

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 in the spring.  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 and see if your results are as good as mine and other landscapers. Casaron is also labeled for beds only around certain plants for the control of Florida Betony.

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. Post-emergent weed control involves checking the weather (for temperatures and rain), applying a product, mowing at the right time and following the label.

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; 15-00-05, 15-00-15, and 23-00-08 combined with preemergent control products and 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 (a 00-00-07) in 6-10 weeks depending on the products you use, the rate, and the weather conditions. 

Many leaves, of trees that lose their leaves for the winter, have started losing their chlorophyll and developing spots on the leaves. You should not have to treat these leaves with a fungicide for leaf spot because they are getting ready to fall off anyway; however, you might want to check and see if there is a cultural reason (wet area, dry area, herbicide applied in area, tree in full sun that should be in shade, improper fertility  …) that is causing these leaves to drop early.

Mosquitoes, Army worms, the Nasty Rascal, the Chinch Bug, Web Worms and mole crickets are out in full force. Thatch management in zoysia grass has become very important. An application of BGK 7500 should help reduce the thatch with regular applications. BGK 7500 is a powerhouse of microorganisms that eat the material that causes thatch. Be warned.

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

Monday, August 20, 2018

Flea Control 401

Horticulture Hotline 08/20/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Continuing from last week’s article about fleas…

Professional pest managers will always do a great job at controlling fleas because they are professionals and they do this for a living.  Since fleas are in so many different life cycles, give the exterminator at least two weeks for their product to work.  As mentioned last week, the flea population are in several different life cycles at any given time. Adult  biting fleas only account for about 2% of the population, the rest are in the egg, larva and pupae stage.  If you help the professional by vacuuming, you will get better results.

When treating fleas, it is good to treat your animal, your house and your yard.  This three-prong attack gives you the best results. 

If you are a “do it yourselfer” there are a few products that can make a difficult job easy. 
Fleas can be controlled by starting with your animal.  There are two products that you can apply directly to you animal that I use. Prefurred One and Petcor work great preventatively and will work once the pet is under attack. At Possum’s we sell several other products that are very effective. I just happen to use these because I have them at my house.

Precor 2625 (new product and very effective on many pest), Ultracide, Precor 2000 or Alpine IGR should be sprayed inside your house.  As mentioned last week, it is important to vacuum your house daily when you are trying to control fleas.  If your vacuum has a bag, you want to remove it and put it in a plastic bag, and put it in the trash can outside after each vacuum.   Ultracide will kill the biting fleas and has a growth regulator that will prevent the treated population from maturing into reproducing, biting adult fleas. EcoVia EC is an effective NOP (National Organics Program) compliant product; however, it doesn’t have the growth regulator.

Since I am cheap and know a little bit about fleas, I usually limit my spraying of the house to a few key areas where my dog hangs out.  Remember from last week, when a dog gets up from a nap and shakes, he is shaking eggs off of his body.  I concentrate my spraying in and around those areas where he usually naps.  A can of spray can last several seasons with this method. As a store owner (Possum’s), tips like these can put you out of business!  

Outside use Lebanon Insect Control in the yard.  Be sure to treat mulched areas because the larvae live in moist wet areas.  This product will knock down the adult flea population.  Lebanon Insect Control will also control chiggers, ticks, chinch bugs, grubs,  fire ants and many other pests. Bug Blaster and Essentria G (organic) will also do a good job.
Nylar (Pivot) is a growth regulator that will prevent the fleas from becoming reproducing adults.  Be sure to spray the Nylar in your beds. Nylar is a great product outside because the sun doesn’t break it down like some growth regulators (Precor). Nylar can be used indoors as well.  Nylar mimics an insect hormone that can be sprayed around mammals, reptiles, birds, you, your pets and children.  Nylar also controls roaches and mosquitoes as a bonus.

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

Monday, August 13, 2018

Flea Biology 101

Horticulture Hotline 08/13/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Fleas have been particularly bad this year.  I have been asked a lot about them in the store (Possum’s) and when I have been out and about. Judging from the amount of flea products I’m ordering for the stores, they have been busy with flea situations as well. Fleas are hard to control because they have a wide range of hosts and their life cycles are designed for survival.  Although there are 2400 different species of fleas, the one we are most concerned with is the cat flea. This week I’m going to write about the biology of the cat flea and next week focus more on the control.

The flea that primarily attacks the dog is called the cat flea.  This flea attacks dogs, cats, and several other wild hosts including rodents, rabbits, squirrels, skunks and yes, the opossum!  They will also attack humans as well.  As you treat your yard, your dog, and your house you need to realize that these other animals can re-infest your yard. 

A flea can go from the egg stage to the adult stage in anywhere from a few weeks to several months (even over 1 year).  This life cycle helps ensure their survival.  The flea will wait in the pupae stage, and emerge as an adult when the conditions are favorable for the survival of the adult. Adult biting fleas only account for about 2% of the population, the rest are in the egg, larva and pupae stage.

The flea lays eggs on its host.  These eggs are not attached to the host so they are constantly falling off.  When a dog gets up from a nap and shakes, the dog is shaking the eggs off of his body.  The egg then becomes a larva. 

The larva can live on the dog or larva also live under grass, soil, mulch or other organic matter.  Larva are very susceptible to heat and desiccation so they usually stay in shady moist areas of the yard.  Treating your flower beds is very important.  You may see the adults out in the middle of your yard; however, they are coming from your mulch beds where it is shady and moist. 

After the larva stage, the flea develops into a pupa.  This pupae stage is what makes the flea so hard to control.  The pupa is made out of a silk like cocoon that protects the flea.  This cocoon is very sticky when first developed and dust and other debris stick to it making it very hard to detect.  If someone moves out of an apartment that had a dog with fleas, the apartment could be closed for months.  When the new tenants open the door and walk in, the adult flea will emerge from the pupae stage and begin biting the person who has entered.  These pupae respond to vibration, so it is good to vacuum when trying to control fleas.  Vacuuming removes fleas and the vibration from the vacuuming brings the flea out of the pupae stage and into the adult stage that is susceptible to control products. 

All these factors make the flea very hard to control.  When using control products there are several different products to use.  Some products are used inside, some outside and some on the animal.  A pest management professional is always a good option when dealing with fleas.

Next week I will write about several different control products.  In the meantime apply Prefurred One, Petcor or Prefurred Plus to your animal, use Precor 2000 inside the house, spread Bug Blaster (or spray EcoVia EC NOP Compliant) in the yard and spray the yard with Nyguard (Growth Regulator). 

Since it takes about two weeks to control fleas, it will also take me two weeks to write about controlling fleas!

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