Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bombs away!

 This happy little contraption is a Japanese Beetle trap and they have been appearing in gardens everywhere since the beginning of July. Yet, from what I've been hearing/ seeing, the numbers are far below previous years.

So, what this means is, grub damage is probably going to be minimal to non-existent this year. This is not to say, lay off the nematode application. It's always a good idea to do what you can especially when you only get 50% efficacy from these microscopic worms that attack grub larvae.

It is also recommended, you take a walk through your lawn to see if there is any white moth activity. I've been seeing a lot of it this year and it is an indication that sod webworm may be a problem on your lawn. 

Even though grubs look to be less of an issue this year, don't set off the fireworks yet. Chinch bug damage is approaching its peek and I'm starting to see a lot of stress out there despite the frequent rain and cooler temperatures. Unlike grubs, Chinch are harder to control with the products we still have on the menu, (the use of Sevin is not permitted under the bylaw). Still, your best defence is a healthy lawn able to withstand this sudden intrusion- endophytic grass comes to mind.

As mentioned in previous posts Chinch are an insect very active when it's hot and dry and can cause extreme damage in a short period of time.

To slow down feeding apply a mixture of dish soap and water to the affected area and reseed the damage near the end of August with a high quality, endophytic grass seed. Forget Met 52 EC, or nematodes for control, they simply do not work well enough to warrant your time and money.
It is also prudent to add annual aeration to your lawn regimen since these insects hide in bunkers of thatch much of the time where they are harder to control.

So, "bombs away people!" Just make sure you have the right ammunition.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Anticipate the fall

Really the title of this post is a selfish shout-out to my buddies in the band Crawl who released a new CD of the same name over the past week. It can, however, also be the mantra of every lawn care professional at this time of the year.

Whether you cut, lay sod, or control weeds and insects like I do, all it takes is a few hot, humid days to see all your hard work from the spring vanish into a sea of dry dormant grass. Especially if you have a client who wants their lawn kept short and then doesn't water the turf. It's a recipe for disaster and many times you'll get the brunt of the frustration.

Ready or not here it comes. I'm sure you've noticed the emergence of crabgrass in the sunny hot areas of not only your lawn but others as well. For those of you who applied corn gluten way back when, you'll excuse the sarcasm but, that was money well spent. Yet, until we get a new control like Opportune, which may, or may not work, you are left with pulling the ubiquitous weed, just dealing with it until it dies in the fall, or killing everything with vinegar or Glyphosate. Not much in the options department if you ask me.

You really can't win with whatever weather you're dealt. If it's hot and dry, it favours the chinch bug and crabgrass camp, wetter...the grubs and turf diseases like brown patch.

Your lawn must seem like Switzerland between two warring insect nations and you can't win for losing.

So as many of you continue to enjoy the summer, I say bring on the fall when I can restore some lawn and order and repair the damage done.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Weather, or not?

The pesky little yellow flowers you see along roadsides and boulevards is bird's-foot trefoil.

"That's swell," you say, but what does it all mean?

It's a sign from Mother Nature and it means the promiscuous hairy chinch bug is about to go full tilt into egg laying mode. So it is time for you, the home owner, to be vigilant and pay attention to any dead pockets of grass. Usually the damage will be around gardens and heavy sun-exposed areas.

Chinch love it dry and they love it hot. If we experience these conditions expect the most severe damage in about 3-4 weeks time.

What else can you do to prevent this insect from munching through your turf?

Sadly, not much.

Any one who sells you nematodes to fight chinch, you can be sure, are laughing hysterically once  you are out of ear-shot as they count your money. I have not seen one study where nematodes had any effect on this insect. Same goes for Met 52 EC mainly because there are too many variables involved with this product. It must make contact with the insect directly and if you have a heavy thatch layer...good luck controlling anything. Met 52 also has little residual effect and must be reapplied after 48 hours. Then there's Grandevo...can we even get this stuff yet?

And that's all folks. There are no more controls currently available to the non-golf course, non-farmer, non-sod grower sector like you and I.

However, if you keep your lawn hydrated, maybe spay a little liquid dish soap and water on those stressed areas and over-seed with endophytic grass seed, the damage, if any, may be less severe. Also it is a good idea to reduce thatch by aerating annually, or dethatching in the fall.

Much of course, will depend on the weather over the next few weeks and depending on what source you use for your info; Farmer's Almanac, long-range weather models, the local news, you may get three different results.

In the end, you may feel the same as getting caught in the middle of a field in a just have to roll into a tiny ball and hope for the best.