Monday, October 28, 2019

Fall My Favorite Time of Year

Horticulture Hotline 10/28/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

On radio or in print I never like to make doom and gloom predictions or talk about only the negative things going on in the landscape or around the house. Sometimes the weather conditions make this a little difficult. Also the fact that I work for a company whose tagline is ‘We Have Solutions’ and we sell products for controlling moles, fire ants, disease, insects, weeds, rats, mice, bed bugs, fleas, mosquitoes, roaches, and termites…and other negative aspects of the landscape - probably shapes my way of thinking.

Fall is my favorite time of year. The cooler weather, young ryegrass sprouting, Cassia blooming, mums and winter annual flowers being planted, container plants being changed out with fresh new soil, Thanksgiving around the corner, the tea olives’ fragrance, the red seeds in the magnolia cones, fall color as leaves prepare to drop, the grass going dormant so less mowing, oyster roasts, fall is for planting and transplanting, pumpkins …

Okay. Now the other stuff going on. Large patch (brown patch) has attacked many yards in the Lowcountry. The perfect conditions with rain, less daylight hours, the grass slowing down and going into dormancy, and the temperature range that favors the development of the disease, have all contributed to a huge outbreak of this disease. Look for circular and irregular areas of brown in your yard. These irregular areas could also be fall army worms or sod webworms, so be sure to identify what you are trying to control.
Fungus needs a fungicide and insects need insecticides. Worm damage is easy to identify because you can see the worms or the bite marks in the leaves that they have chewed on.

Fleas are always an issue in the Lowcountry, but for some reason they have been extra active this year. I wonder if it is because everywhere I go I see dogs. The rain brought the fire ants to the surface. Mosquitoes what? The summer annual weeds that might go unnoticed are very visible as they flower (Virginia button weed comes to mind). Rats what? Moles always. Roaches what? Bed bugs not causing the hysteria they use to until you have them.

Charleston is beautiful in the fall. Are the no-see-ums out yet?

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

Monday, October 21, 2019

Disease and Winter Kill

Horticulture Hotline 10/21/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Preparing your lawn to avoid winter kill will also help with large patch / brown patch disease. Many of the cultural practices are the same. The rain, the shorter daylight hours and the cooler temperatures have large patch / brown patch exploding in yards of all types. Winter kill temperatures are not in the forecast; however, it is best to be proactive, so if and when the time comes, you are ready.

Have you ever had winter kill? Now is the time to prepare your grass for the wide variations in temperatures we have. If you had winter kill in the past, you need to be sure to correct low and poorly drained areas, reduce thatch in the yard, increase air movement in low areas, keep your lawn hydrated and feed (with the right food for the winter). These same cultural practices will help with large patch / brown patch disease as well.

Mow your grass lower than normal (centipede 1.0 to 1.5 inches, St. Augustine 2.5 to 3.0 inches). By mowing your grass lower, you will increase the air movement around the crown of the plant, so cold air will not settle at the crown of the plant and damage the grass. In Florida helicopters fly low over citrus groves that are in valleys to get the cold air out. Tall grass or thatch will insulate the crown of the plant like a goose down jacket, keeping the cold air near the crown where it can cause winter kill. Centipede lawns usually get winter kill the worst if temperatures plummet quickly. Tall grass will also stay wet longer. Wet grass favors the development of disease.

Fine blade Zoysia grass can grow very dense and get thatch. De-thatching, verticutting, using Bio Grounds Keeper, and regular topdressing with cotton burr compost should be part of your maintenance schedule.  

With the conditions so favorable for large patch / brown patch disease, an application of a systemic fungicide (Fame, T-Methyl) is a good idea. This application is like us getting a flu shot. You want to get the flu shot or the fungicide out before you or your lawn get the disease.

Moles? Rats? Roaches? Fire ants? Putting in winter annual color? Preemergent herbicides? Transplanting shrubs or trees? A lot goes on this time of year in the landscape.

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

Monday, October 14, 2019

It's Below 90 Degrees - Time To Winterize

Horticulture Hotline 10/14/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

I guess it was two weeks ago now that I got out of my truck and smelt the sweet smell of tea olive in the air. A true sign of fall. While walking the 17 year old pound hound, Ol’Boy, the fragrance of Osmanthus fragrans was a nice change from the garbage cans that were out a little longer than normal after Dorian.

Several years have gone by since we have had a major winter kill event in the low country. Many people have moved to this area that are not use to dealing with centipede and other warm-season grasses. Where you lived, you had cool-season grasses like Fescue, Rye, and Blue grass. If our temperatures are warm then drop below freezing very rapidly, our lawns, especially centipede (however can affect all lawns depending on the conditions) can suffer winter kill.

Yes, it is time to winterize your landscape especially this year with the drought and wind trauma. SeaHume should be used alone or with the 00-00-25 or Possum Minors, depending on the results from your soil test. Look for a product with a 00 for the first number (nitrogen). A 00-00-25 with sulfate of potash and minors would be great. If you do not need the potash, consider Possum Minors and the SeaHume, a wonderful combination of seaweed and humic acid. Possum’s Minors is also a great winterizer. Depending on a soil test 00-00-25 or Possum Minors along with SeaHume is your best option.

A light topdressing of Cotton Burr Compost on your lawn in combination with the products listed above will also help your turf. Maybe just pick out a few weak areas (if weak because of shade – might help what is shading the grass but grass needs sunlight) and one good area and check out the results for yourself. Cotton Burr Compost also works great around trees and shrubs as a mulch. Great nutrition for the plants and trees as well as for the microorganisms in the soil, helps manage thatch in turf and adds organic matter.

If you want to get the most out of your winterizer, apply it now while the grass is still green. These three products will help the plant produce chlorophyll, and the plants will be able to capture sunlight and produce carbohydrates. These carbohydrates will develop roots and make the plant come out of dormancy stronger in the spring as well as protect the plant from winter kill. Keeping the landscape fed and hydrated helps fend off the cold weather damage – just like if the landscape was a mountain climber climbing Everest. The sugars act as antifreeze.

SeaHume will help grass, trees, shrubs, and flowers throughout the winter. SeaHume will help mitigate salt damage. The seaweed part of SeaHume has over 60 minor nutrients, carbohydrates, amino acids, gibberellins, auxins, cytokynins, anti-oxidants and other bio stimulants. The humic acid is also full of bio stimulants that help make nutrients that are in the soil available to the plant, help with soil structure, grow roots, and feed the microorganisms in the soil.

Trees grow most of their feeder roots over the winter. With the movement of the root ball during the winds and the flooding, many of these roots were lost. SeaHume will help re-establish these feeder roots over the winter.

Beware of the national ad campaigns talking about winterizing fertilizers for turf. These products are usually formulated for cool season grasses (rye, fescue). Not exactly what we want to put on our yard in mid-October in the Lowcountry. Just ask Clemson University.

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