Now that spring is in full swing, it is time to be vigilant in regards to controlling many of our summer weed issues. This year especially, fully a wet and rough winter season, you need to be on the lookout because the damaging effects of last year’s weather on our lawns and fields will allow weeds ample opportunity to prolong our misery well into 2019.

Was crabgrass an issue in your lawn last summer? If so, now is the time to be treating your lawn with pre-emergence products such as a weed and feed. The best time to treat for warm season grasses like crabgrass lies between the blooming of forsythia, which has been in bloom for two weeks now, and the blooming of dogwoods, which is eminent.  

It is also a good time to treat thistles that are still in the rosette stages. Once thistles begin to send up their vertical shoots, you might as well wait until October 2019 or get the hoe out. Spraying then will produce poor control results.

Another pest that needs to be monitored is the multiflora rose. Roses need to be treated with products that are of most benefit on woody stemmed plants and it is best to apply these products on the new foliage of spring just before the new buds produce flowers. While our area rose bushes are beginning to green up, it is time to gather the supplies needed and check the sprayer’s readiness so that we can strike at the optimum time.

One thing you do not want to do is bush hog or mow rose bushes, even ones that have been treated recently. Think about the tea roses you might purchase to put in your landscaping; what does the rose look like? In most cases, you will purchase a plastic bag of rose roots that is about 12-14 inches long with three or so stubby stems protruding from the bag.

It doesn’t look like much, but within a few weeks new stems grow vigorously from the planted root ball.  The reason for this rapid growth is because the roots have plenty of stored energy with very little old growth to support. In response to planting, feeding, water and sunlight, new canes burst forth. 

When you mow a wild rose in the field, you are prepping the plant for the same response. Reductions in the woody material above the ground only serve to lighten the load on the roots that are primed to grow new roses. Old bushes can be destroyed in the future, but it is best to let a treated rose die and overwinter at least one year before the canes are removed. 

Finally, be on the lookout for many of our spring weeds that never seem to lose steam. The very best way to control weeds in lawns and fields is with a healthy stand of grass or crops; however, following last year’s weather, nearly every stand of grass has been adversely affected. We are already seeing splashes of color that are not welcome. The purples of the weed henbit are already on full display. It won’t be long before the yellows of mustard, spurge and buttercup make their debut. 

As we have noted in the past, once you see these plants’ blooms control methods are useless for the most part, but it is also an opportunity to mark our 2020 calendars to be on the lookout once again.

Upcoming Events

April 9-12--Spring Board Meeting, Wichita, Kansas. 

April 17-20--Virginia Beef Expo, Rockingham County Fairgrounds, Harrisonburg.

April 26--Watershed Field Day for 6th Graders, CHS Stadium.

May 8--75th Annual Bristol Steer Show.

May 15-17--Tennessee State Ag Agent Meeting, Knoxville.

May--Smyth Washington Cattleman’s Meeting. Date to be announced.

June 24-27--Kentucky State Ag Agents Meeting, Owensboro, Kentucky.

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Dr. Andy Overbay is Smyth County’s agriculture and natural resources extension agent.

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