The End Of The Off Season

By Darin S. Bevard, director, Mid-Atlantic Region
March 6, 2013

Winter weed populations in bermudagrass are unsightly, but the application of a non-selective herbicide as bermudagrass breaks dormancy can delay green-up or even kill the desirable grass. Be careful.

Temperatures have remained cold in the northern tier of the Mid-Atlantic Region, and snow is falling as this update is being written. Nonetheless, we know that warmer temperatures will return and the golfing and growing season will be upon us before too much longer. However, as anxious as we all are to get started, now is a good time to be patient.

Calls regarding the timing for applications to control annual bluegrass weevil have been frequent. For most of our region, it is still too early to initiate effective treatments for this insect pest. The phenological indicators for annual bluegrass weevil adulticide applications are bud development on the Shadblow Serviceberry tree or full bloom of Forsythia (yellow to green foliage). Treatments should be initiated when Forsythia starts to produce green leaves. At the very least, historic problem areas should be treated to control adults. Remember, if you use Forsythia as a signal to control this pest do not rely on a single bush as your indicator. Use a representative sampling of Forsythia in your area.

In the southern portion of the region, putting green aeration is being performed. Any window of opportunity is a good one when it comes to preparing for the growing season. Monitoring for Poa annua seedheads and tracking growing degree days is also ongoing as plans are made for applications to inhibit seedhead formation. Again, be patient. Monitor for seedhead development and use the GDD model of your choosing to allow for the best possible control of seed development.  

Another topic of conversation has been the application of non-selective herbicides for weed control in dormant bermudagrass. From what we have seen in our travels, bermudagrass is still fully dormant, so these applications can still be made. Use low carrier volumes (20 gallons per acre or less) to prevent the herbicide from moving into the dormant bermudagrass canopy. Realize that bermudagrass can break dormancy fairly quickly from this point forward, so close monitoring is critical to prevent damage. However, if any emerging green leaf tissue is noted in the canopy, do not apply a non-selective herbicide. Take a conservative approach if you have any doubt or uncertainty about the stage of dormancy and skip the non-selective herbicide application. You do not want to delay spring green-up or worse, kill grass. A sulfonylurea herbicide can be applied later in the spring to control most weeds without risking damage to bermudagrass.

We thank all those who attended our Regional Conference at the Country Club of Virginia on Tuesday, March 5. We are looking forward to seeing those who will be attending the Regional Conference next week on Tuesday, March 12 at Woodholme Country Club. Online registration closes Friday, March 8. To register online visit https://www.usga.org/register and use the Event Code 31213. Credit cards are accepted. Be sure to call our office if you have any questions.

The Mid-Atlantic Region agronomists are part of your agronomic support team. If you have a question of concern, especially now, give us a call or send an email. You can reach Darin Bevard (dbevard@usga.org) at 610-558-9066 or Keith Happ at (khapp@usga.org) at 412-341-5922

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