Turfgrass slow to thaw

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.

Winter seems to be dragging on and on this year as I await the opportunity to fire up the mower for the first time. With several locations around Michigan reporting either record or near record snow fall amounts, it’s no wonder many have cabin fever. There’s really not a whole lot to do with the turfgrass right now except to sit by patiently as the soil thaws and the turfgrass begins to slowly emerge from its winter slumber. While waiting for the turf to spring, there are some useful web resources from the MSU turf team you might want to peruse on the side while filling in your basketball tournament bracket.

When it comes to golf course superintendents scheduling growth regulator applications to suppress Poa annua seedheads, the one stop information source is www.gddtracker.net. There are several different growing degree day (GDD) predictors that can be used to schedule either Embark or Primo/Proxy applications. In addition to scheduling growth regulator applications, the site also includes GDD models to predict spring broadleaf herbicide applications, crabgrass preemergence applications, and weed flowering. The weed flowering predictor will help ensure that herbicide applications are at their most effective. Second to fall applications in effectiveness is to hit the weeds when they are flowering. Probably my favorite feature on this website is the “flashback” option which allows you to see how many GDDs were accumulated last year on the same date. As of March 17 in East Lansing, we are about 40 GDDs (32 degree base) behind where we were last year.

My favorite site for identifying weeds is a new and enhanced version of http://www.msuturfweeds.net/. Ron Calhoun, Extension turfgrass weed specialist at MSU, has spent some significant time in updating this site so that identification is now just a couple clicks away. You can either select weeds from pictures or you can click your way through identification keys to identify the weed that’s troubling your turf. Start with choosing between broadleaf or grasses and then you’re on your way. You can identify growth habit, leaf shape, leaf margin, leaf arrangement, and flower color to narrow your selections. Grass identification should be up and running any day now.

Finally, don’t forget about http://www.turf.msu.edu/ for all your turf information needs. Turf.msu.edu has all of the extension fact sheets, research reports, podcasting, and hot topics.

Until our next issue on April 4, your best turf tips are to sharpen your mower blades and resist the urge to apply fertilizer or preemergence crabgrass herbicide to the turf. We’re really not even close right now as some areas are still snow covered, some frozen, and some just starting to emerge from dormancy.

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