SOIL SERVICE NEWS- Watering, Fescue Disease, Brush Control, Oak Leaf Itch Mites, Squash Bugs, and More!
PLEASE DON’T FEED THE FUNGUS
If you water the lawn and garden in the late afternoon or evening, you have a popular spot for diseases.
WATERING DO’S AND DON’T’S
Watering mistakes encourage many diseases in lawns and gardens, especially with evening watering. At night, grass and other plants expel a nutrient rich broth of sugars and proteins (exudates) that, when combined with wet leaves, helps fungus thrive. Here are some simple watering guidelines:
- Water only in the morning, preferably before 9AM.
- Excluding lawns, water at the base of plants instead of overhead if possible. Soil Service Garden Center stocks Dramm watering wands that are excellent for this purpose.
- Mulch to block rain or irrigation from splashing soil borne fungal spores onto leaves.
- Lawns should receive about an inch of water once a week during drought, NOT every day. But hot windy summer days increase evaporation and lawns may need to be watered 2-3 times to get a total of 1 ½ -2 inches per week.
- Pay particular attention to areas seeded last fall since younger grass roots are less developed than mature grass and show drought stress sooner.
- You cannot tell if the ground is dry by looking at the soil surface. Take a small hand shovel and dig a vertical slice to check soil moisture. Ground that is wet 4-6 inches deep is usually OK.
TIPS FROM THE TURF PROS
Summer stress is coming soon to our fescue lawns. Here’s a new way to predict when Brown Patch fungus in fescue is active.
PREDICTING BROWN PATCH IN FESCUE
An updated way to predict when Brown Patch (Rhizoctonia solani) becomes active with high moisture and by using the “flip-flop” rule when average low temperatures of at least 68 d F and average high temperatures of 86 d F or more are present for several days in a row. Kansas City’s infamous hot, muggy days with high dew points (in the 70’s) also gives us a heads up that the disease may be active. Control is difficult but your Soil Service Garden Center will do our best to help with your situation.
Grubs like moist soils and feed on roots near the soil surface,which is why frequent rain or irrigation is a magnet for their damage. We have several species of grubs in Kansas City with the Masked Chafer, an annual grub, being the most common. The adults are pretty easy to identify (about 1/2 inch long and light tan)
In most years, eggs hatch in early July and the grubs start feeding. We make a preventative treatment around mid-June with Hi-Yield Grub Grub Free Zone II to ensure it’s in the soil solution and ready for control when grubs are small and vulnerable.
VINE AND BRUSH CONTROL
Have you ever cut brush or vines only to see the plants come back with more shoots after cutting? You can fix this problem:
CUT AND TREAT THE SAME DAY
We see this all the time. A customer comes in to get a control product for a stump, vine, or brush that was cut a week or two before seeing us. Unfortunately we have to tell them the train left the station because the plant heals the wounded area within a day of cutting. This quick healing blocks a control product from moving to roots where it kills the plant. Your Soil Service Garden Center stocks Ferti-lome Stump and Brush Control to keep plants from coming back. Mix with water and Ferti-lome Spreader Sticker for foliar applications or apply undiluted, without spreader sticker, to a freshly cut vine or stump. This is the time of year to get rid of these problem plants once and for all.
GETTING TO KNOW THE OAK LEAF ITCH MITE
So far university research has not come up with a way to control this bothersome critter. However, we do have a few tips that may make them easier to live with:
- The mite falls from oak trees and lands between skin and clothing of the neck and upper body. Avoid trying to brush them off because they start biting when agitated.
- Change clothes right after working outside. Consider leaving infested clothing by the washer instead of bedrooms or hampers.
- Shower thoroughly as soon as possible with plenty of soap and water.
Kansas State has an excellent publication about this mite.
SHORT TAKES ON TIMELY TOPICS
LAWN SURFACE INSECTS
Hi-Yield Bug Blaster II is a highly effective granular control product for lawn insects such as ticks, fleas, ants and many other nuisance pests (not grubs). Each bag treats 5000 sq. ft. and is available at the Garden Center.
May rain brings big bunches of hungry mosquitos so once again we will be under attack this summer. Here are a few products for mosquito control:
Mosquito Beater for lawn and gardens is available as an organic repellent or a traditional control product. Both come in easy-to-use hose-end bottles.
Organic Mosquito Dunks are used in birdbaths, water gardens etc.
In 2005, Ohio State University compared organic and traditional products for squash bug control. The study found that Spinosad was the most effective product on young and old nymphs. The best treatment for adults was the synthetic pyrethroids of Pyrethrin, Cyhalothrin and Cyfluthrin. To see the complete study, here is a summary of the report by Oklahoma State.
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