Golf Course Secrets for the Homeowner - part 1

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Golf Course Secretes for the Homeowner

I am always being asked what to do about lawn care, so I thought I would write a series of articles for the newsletter each month. This month's topic is winter and summer weeds. Your first golf course secrete is to buy your herbicides at the co-op, that is if you are want to save yourself money. If you are buying from Walmart, you are paying a lot for water. Retail operations try to market as, "do it yourself", premixed ready to go. That is all well and good, but you are paying for the packaging, very little chemical and a lot of H2O. While it will take just a little more effort and some knowledge you will save the pocket book by buying the proper chemicals and mixing the water yourself. I mentioned the local Co-op because their staff is usually friendly and anxious to help out someone who isn't that familiar with herbicide applications.
The basics:
Rule number 1- MSMA is not a kill all herbicide. Everyone always says, can I spray MSMA now! You need to understand that there are Winter & Spring weeds, and then there are summer weeds. There are pre-emergent herbicides and post-emergent herbicides.

Post-emergent Herbicides- This is an herbicide that kills the weed after it has appeared. The mode of action of most herbicides in this class is for the plant to take in the herbicide through its leaf, then translocate throughout the plant. It is most effective when the plant is actively growing in favorable conditions. Since the chemical is taken into the plant, it is important that rain does not wash it off the plant for at least 24 hrs. Examples of common post-emergent herbicides are MSMA, Trimec and Roundup.

Pre-emergent Herbicides- are herbicides that are put down before a weed has a chance to germinate. The chemical keeps the seed from germinating. If you see the weed growing, it's too late and a post-emergent herbicide will be needed. Some troublesome weeds not only come from seeds but will come back from the stolen. Pre-emergent herbicides will stop new plants, but the parent will still have to be killed with a post-emergent. Timing is important, pre-emergent herbicides need to be applied now for control of summer weeds. Popular pre-emergents include, Ronstar, Barricaide and Bensulide. One word of caution, if you are planning to reseed areas of your lawn, don't put down a pre-emergent in those areas. Just as they stop weeds from germinating, they will have the same type of effect on your grass seed.
      Winter, Spring and Summer weeds- Winter to early Spring weeds usually include Poana (grass that looks great at first, but gets seed heads and competes with summer grasses, then burns out in the summer), broadleaves like clover, henbit, etc. and wild onion. Summer weeds include two of the most troubling weeds, crabgrass and goosegrass.
The most economical way of ridding winter, early spring weeds is to apply roundup at the rate of 16 oz. per acre. Since roundup is a non-discriminate killer, your grass must be dormant. If your Bermuda or Zoyzia is greening up, it will kill it too. If you have Fescue or some other cool season grass you certainly don't want to spray Roundup. I like to apply Roundup in the late January to mid February. I like Roundup because it does a great job on Poana. You may get all excited when you see green grass coming up, but this turns out to be a troublesome ugly grass that crowds your summer grass. If you wait for warm snap during this time the application of Roundup will be the most effective. Cold temperatures followed by a warm up insures that the summer grass is not breaking dormancy and the warm up gets the Winter weeds active to take in the chemical.
      Once, the weather warms up you will likely see some germination of some broadleaf weeds. This is when you want to spray Trimec, or 2-4D. If you spray 2-4D when the weather is hot, make sure you spray the amine formulation and not the ester formulation. The ester formulation is volatile in hot weather and can drift. This could damage shrubs and other ornamental plantings. The rate for Trimec is 2 to 4 pints to the acre, just make sure you read the label.
Mid March is about the time you want to apply your pre-emergent for summer weeds such as goosegrass and crabgrass. If you have good coverage of grass spraying a pre-emergent is a great idea. It will keep the summer weeds to a minimum and any parent plants can be taken care of by a post-emergent spray.
Summer is the time for MSMA. The typical rate is 44 oz to the acre, or 1oz per 1,000 square ft. You want to apply 2 applications 7 days apart. If the weather is warm you might get some burn, don't worry the Bermuda or Zoyzia will green back up. Just because it looks like the weeds are dying after 7 days doesn't mean that you don't need to do the second spraying. Mature Goosegrass is especially hard to kill, more than likely you won't get a complete kill. If you have severe infestation of Goosegrass, you may need to spray Sencor.
Next month the topic will be how to mix and calibrate a sprayer so you put the right amount of chemical out on your lawn.

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