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Category: integrated pest management (IPM)

Today is the start of…. National Pollinator Week!

By Brooke M. Garcia

Happy National Pollinator Week! National Pollinator Week occurs every year around mid-June. This year, June 22-28th, 2020 is dedicated to celebrating pollinators and promoting how we can protect them in the landscape and/or environment. What can you do this week to protect or promote a pollinator?

Here are some ideas to show your support:

  • Plant native plants in the landscape
  • Educate employees on pesticide safety
  • Display pollinator artwork and outreach materials in your office lobby
  • Highlight Pollinator Week in a newsletter, blog, or magazine
  • Host a nature walk or pollinator expert lecture

Use the hashtag #pollinatorweek to promote pollinator week, events and resources shared.

For more information about National Pollinator Week, you can visit the official website.

Visit our K-State Pesticide Safety and Integrated Pest Management Facebook page to stay tuned with educational topics related to pollinators, pesticide safety, and IPM.

Three Steps to Choosing Potting Media for Outdoor Use

By Dr. Cheryl Boyer

There are a lot of choices in the potting media aisle of your local garden center. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be a confusing experience to read the label. Fortunately, there are three easy steps/considerations for screening the available choices down to one that works for your needs.

Step 1: What are you using it for?

It does make a difference whether you are planning to use media in a container or as a soil amendment in a raised vegetable bed or landscaping bed. Some materials are designed to hold water well while others are designed to drain well. What do you need for each of those situations?

  • Growing plants in containers: Generally, you want to use a peat-based soil-less substrate for this application. Do not use field soil. These products are engineered for success in season-long growth of annual plants in containers of reasonable size for consumer use (very large containers are a different discussion). Peat-based mixes almost always have a “starter charge” of fertilizer mixed in to get your plants growing, but you’ll need to supplement with fertilizer as the season progresses. Old potting media has likely lost its starter charge and may, in fact, become hydrophobic (repels water) over time. You’ll need to spend some time rewetting and mixing old potting media for a new season if you intend to re-use it.
  • Amending a landscape bed or raised bed: Products containing peat should not be the primary component but are acceptable in small quantities. Field soil mixed with compost and perhaps a coarse pine bark-size material is best in this situation. The objective is to enrich your existing soil with natural material that will break down over time and in the meantime provide nutrients and aeration for roots to grow well. Make sure to apply the material and mix/till it into a broad area and not just a single planting hole or your new plants may experience the “soup bowl effect” and succumb to rapid decline. Check with your local landscape contractor to get a large volume of soil delivered, perhaps even mixed with compost from a local municipal composting facility.

Step 2: Understanding Major, Minor, and Specialty Components

These materials are regionally sourced and often composted to reduce particle size. Some materials are manufactured for the purpose of being used in potting media and many more are by-products of other industries. They are all fine as components but look at the label to understand how much of each “ingredient” is mixed, by volume, into the product you’re purchasing. If that information isn’t on the bag, be wary of purchasing.

  • Major components: Bark (or “composted forest products”), peat (this might be defined by type of peat which often refers to the source material or the coarseness), soil (don’t pay for this unless it’s local/regional and advertised as a single-component soil amendment—not as a potting media), manure, sand. Other waste-product alternative materials such as coconut coir and wood fiber are also great to use, but they’re not seen as often in consumer-level products.
  • Minor components: Perlite (little white pellets–it’s for aeration, not fertilization), vermiculite (shiny heat-expanded rock pieces), rice hulls (also for aeration with an added bonus of weed control when applied to the tops of containers). These are the most common.
  • Specialty components: mycorrhizae (symbiotic fungal organism that, mixed in, can be very beneficial in a container system by expanding the root capacity to take up nutrients and water, it’s less effective in field soil where these organisms are already abundant), fungicide (some products are designed to address specific fungal growth issues).

A note about manure and compost: These are good organic materials; however, you must be careful that the source can guarantee the material that produced the manure (hay, pasture grass, etc.) was not treated with herbicide. Many herbicides used in pasture management have a very long half-life and can persist in your landscape beds, killing desired plants.

A note about organic products: While most media components are considered “natural” and are likely produced using organic practices, few will be labeled as organic simply due to the nature of the organic certification process. An organically labeled product is not inherently better than another, though if you’re looking for a bagged manure product, organic will ensure the absence of herbicide residue.

Step 3: Mixing and Managing

Knowing what you’re working with and what you’re trying to do with it will help you understand how to manage it in practical use. These materials may also listed on the ingredient list and it’s helpful to know what to expect.

  • Lime: One special challenge we have in Kansas is that we have a lot of limestone around, which raises the pH of our soil and our water. You may notice that many bagged products include lime or limestone as a fertilization amendment. This is because most soil-less media components are very low in pH, or acidic, and they’re trying to get the mix to be pH neutral (so that most nutrients are available for plant uptake). In Kansas, most of our soils are on the high pH, or alkaline, side. It is to our advantage to apply soil-less products that are low in pH because that will help to neutralize our native soil. We don’t need the added limestone, but it’s unlikely you’ll find a product that doesn’t have it mixed in. For sure, don’t add more!
  • Fertilizer: As mentioned earlier, most bagged products have a “starter charge” of fertilizer. You won’t need to add anything immediately, but within a few weeks you’ll need to apply a water-based fertilizer (immediately available to plants) and/or a long-term slow-release fertilizer product. These usually come rated for months of use. A short-term product (3-4 months) may sound like it will last all summer, but if it gets really hot outside the pellets may release early (if temperature is the mode of operation). Combining a shorter-term product with a longer term one (8-9 months) may cover your needs for a longer time.
  • Wetting agent: Some products, like peat, are harvested and packaged in a very dry state and may need help retaining water when ready for use. This will likely be pre-mixed, though if you can tell it’s very dry you may want to spread it in a wheelbarrow and mix in some water (and maybe your own re-wetting agent) until it’s consistent.
  • Watering: Containers will need to be monitored for water more frequently than landscape beds, but they all need to be checked. This will vary in every situation, so you’ll need to keep an eye on it until you understand how all of the components are functioning together.

Potting media products are remarkably similar once you get past the packaging. Read the ingredient label (just like in the grocery store), find what you need for your application, and then choose the product that best meets your needs and your budget. Choose on price only after you’ve leveled the playing field of similar products.

Got questions about an unusual component? Let me know—I love a good alternative material discussion. Here is my email: crboyer@ksu.edu

Flowering Ornamentals and Crabgrass Emergence

By Jack Fry and Ward Upham

Efficacy of some preemergence herbicides is strongly dependent upon the timing of application relative to crabgrass emergence.  For example, application of a preemergence herbicide that has a relatively short residual, such as pendimethalin, closer to crabgrass emergence, will extend the period of time which the herbicide is effective.  Herbicides with longer residuals, such as prodiamine (Barricade), are often applied well before crabgrass emergence, and can even be effective if applied late in the previous autumn.

In our climate, calendar dates don’t always adequately identify crabgrass emergence or herbicide application.  Biological indicators, such as flowering ornamentals, may be useful for predicting crabgrass emergence and preemergence herbicide application.

From 1995 to 1997, K-State researchers worked with those at the Univ. of Nebraska to identify ornamentals at each location which best represented crabgrass emergence and preemergence herbicide application time.  Ornamentals evaluated were bridal wreath spirea, callery pear, daffodil, flowering quince, forsythia, iris, lilac, redbud, saucer magnolia, tulip, and vanhoutte spirea.  Obviously, there may be ornamental cultivar differences in blooms, so this was an average of those observed.  In addition, crabgrass can vary in rate of emergence, but getting an herbicide out before the first plants emerge is preferable.  For this article, we’ll focus on results in Kansas.

Crabgrass emergence in bare soil and thin turf was evaluated at the Rocky Ford Research Center in Manhattan. Over three years, the earliest date of crabgrass emergence in bare soil was April 15 1995, whereas the latest date was May 9, 1996.  In the thin turf (10% bare soil evident while standing), the earliest date of emergence was May 5, 1997 and the latest date was May 22, 1995.

Withering of blooms was a better indicator of crabgrass emergence, particularly in thin turf.  In this case, we looked at bloom wither and then compared it to a date 2 weeks prior to emergence.  This 2-week window would allow time for the herbicide to be applied. In Kansas, withering of most ornamentals was not useful for estimating emergence of crabgrass in bare soil, as emergence often occurred before blooms had withered. However, a date 2 weeks prior to  crabgrass emergence in bare soil could be estimated by adding 6 to 12 days to the date of daffodil wither.

Bloom wither of flower ornamentals was used as a date to determine time of application of short-residual preemergence herbicides (a date 2 weeks prior to crabgrass emergence)

 

Flower wither of all ornamentals could be used indicators of emergence (and herbicide application date) in thin turf in Kansas (see Table 1 below). For example, by adding 28 to 33 days to the date of forsythia bloom wither, you will estimate a date 2 weeks prior to crabgrass emergence in thin turf, which would allow time for preemergence herbicide application.  This timeline is quite different from the often used theory that herbicides must be put down at the time forsythia blooms.  Ultimately, biological indicators, along with soil temperatures, will be better indicators of for crabgrass emergence and application of short-residual preemergence herbicides than calendar dates.

Table 1.  Ornamentals and the number of days to be added to flower wither to estimate the date 2 weeks prior to crabgrass emergence in thin turf.  Data were based upon observation of ornamental blooms and crabgrass emergence for a 3-year period.

Ornamental Number of days to add to bloom wither to estimate the date 2 weeks before crabgrass emergence (range allows for standard error)
Bridal wreath spirea 4 to 13
Callery pear 32 to 41
Flowering quince 36 to 42
Forsythia 28 to 33
Iris 8 to 15
Lilac 17 to 22
Redbud 25 to 32
Saucer magnolia 28 to 32
Tulip 21 to 29

 

Note – This article is based upon:

Fry, J., S. Rodie, R. Gaussoin, S. Wiest, W. Upham, and A. Zuk.  2001.  Using flowering ornamentals to guide preemergence herbicide application in the Midwest U.S.  International Turfgrass Society Research Journal.  p. 1009-1012.

The Star-of-Bethlehem makes an appearance….

By Brooke Garcia (Modified original post written by Dr. Jared Hoyle)

Photo taken by Brooke Garcia

Recognize this weed? This time of year, we are beginning to see a lot of star-of-bethlehem popping up in lawns throughout Manhattan, KS. In my neighborhood, which is one of the oldest areas in Manhattan, it seems to be in every lawn. We struggle with this particular weed every year in our turf, as well as our landscape beds.

Photo taken by Brooke Garcia

It is a very pretty plant with showy, 6-petaled white flowers that have a distinct green stripe underneath. It is a perennial bulb that sometime appears to look like clumps of grass. It can be hard to spot in a freshly-fertilized, green lawn. The green hues blend together. The leaves are linear and smooth, flat in cross-section and have a with midrib.

This plant likes shady and moist areas of the lawn, but I have also seen it grow in the sunniest locations of my lawn too. With the recent moisture and more on the way we are not short of moist areas in the lawn around Manhattan right now.

Although it is has very distinctive characteristics it can be confused with other plants that are commonly found in lawns; crowpoison (Nothoscordum bivalve),spring beauty (Claytonia virginica), wild garlic (Allium vineale) and wild onion (Allium canadense).

If you do not have a lot of this weed in your turf or landscape beds, it can be effective to hand-dig the plant and bulb completely out of the affected area. However, the leaves tear quite easily. Thus, it can be difficult to completely eradicate the entire plant using the hand-removal method.

For chemical control there are couple of options.  Both sulfentrazone and carfentrazone have shown to be very effective.

For additional information about Star of Bethlehem, see the recent post written by Ward Upham:

Wild Onion, Wild Garlic, and Star-of-Bethleham

***Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is solely for identification purposes and does not imply recommendation or endorsement, nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned by Kansas State University.***

National Pesticide Safety Education Month

By: Frannie Miller

Did you know there are about 1 million certified pesticide applicators in the United States? There is somewhere between 11,000 to 15,000 pesticide products registered for use in each state. Common consumer products that contain pesticides include flea collars, weed and feed, and roach baits. Pesticides play an important role in improving the quality of food and feed yields. They also protect the public health, controlling pests in our homes, turf, forests, waterways, and right-of-way.

February is National Pesticide Safety Education Month, which is important in raising awareness and support for land-grant Pesticide Safety Education Programs (PSEP). Pesticide Safety Educations Programs like the one at Kansas State University deliver pesticide applicator trainings on safe use of pesticides in various settings, as well as deal with state-specific needs and laws.

Have you ever wondered how safe you are when using pesticides? You can take a self-assessment of personal pesticide safety practices to evaluate where you could do better:

Self-Assessment of Personal Pesticide Safety Practices

Natural needle drop, or plant disease?

(Megan Kennelly, KSU Plant Pathology)

Which of these is a disease, and which is natural needle drop?

If you guessed natural needle drop for the first and disease (Dothistroma needle blight) for the second, you are right!

If you were not sure, here are some resources to figure it out.

In a recent article in Horticulture News, Ward Upham mentioned some recent reports about natural needle drop on evergreens. You can read more about it here:

http://www.ksuhortnewsletter.org/newsletters/natural-needle-drop-on-spruce-arborvitae-and-pines

In addition, this publication talks about pine diseases and at the end there is a section about natural needle drop:

https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/l722.pdf

If you see yellowing, browning, or dropping of needles and you still are not sure you can reach out to your local K-State Research and Extension office or contact the KSU Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab:

Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab

1712 Claflin Road
4032 Throckmorton PSC
Manhattan, Kansas 66506
(785) 532-5810
Fax: (785) 532 5692
clinic@ksu.edu

 

Upcoming Commercial Pesticide Applicator Training

By Brooke Garcia & Frannie Miller

Upcoming Commercial Pesticide Applicator Training

Date: November 12-14, 2019 in Salina, KS – Webster Conference Center

Website: https://conferences.k-state.edu/commercialpesticide/

Objective: The objective of this training program is for the Kansas State University Cooperative Education Service to provide a broad, practical training program and to help Kansas commercial pesticide applicators meet the requirements for renewal certification.

ALL commercial certified pesticide applicators are required to accumulate credit hours if re-certifying through training.

In Kansas, there are two ways to receive training for renewal certification: 1) study a manual and pass an examination and 2) attend training courses approved by the Kansas Secretary of Agriculture for required re-certification credit hour (CEU) accumulation. All applicators must now accumulate the necessary credit hours required for the appropriate category/subcategory in which they are certified. If you have not accumulated the required number of credit hours (1 core hour and either 3, 5 or 7 pest management hours) and paid the certification fee ($50 per category certified in) to the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) by the expiration of your current certification, you must re-exam to obtain certification.

Questions?
If you have questions regarding the renewal requirements, please call the Kansas Department of Agriculture at 785-564-6688. To view your current certification credits, go to: https://www.kellysolutions.com/ks/applicators.
If you have questions concerning this training program or if you are interested in the additional training programs that the K-State Research and Extension Program has to offer, please call Frannie Miller at (620) 241-1523.

Are you using the right gloves for pesticide safety? And a new resource to translate safety info into Spanish

With pesticides, usually we are thinking about the active ingredient that targets the problematic insect, weed, or disease. But did you know that the different “carriers” in the formulation can affect applicator safety, too?

Here is a quick article that summarizes some of the key points of selecting the right gloves for applicator safety:

If the Glove Doesn’t Fit (the job!), You Must Quit

 

Speaking of pesticide safety, the EPA recently announced a new program to help translate information into Spanish.

https://www.epa.gov/pesticides/epa-offers-guide-help-translate-pesticide-safety-information-spanish

You can find the full guide here:

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-10/documents/spanish-translation-guide-for-pesticide-labeling.10.10.19.pdf