Drought Ends in New Jersey

Last autumn I was blogging about the drought conditions that we were experiencing. Thankfully, this winter’s precipitation, albeit lots of snow, has changed our water status in the region. The U.S. Drought Monitor no longer lists New Jersey as having abnormally dry or moderate drought. You can view more details at http://www.nrcc.cornell.edu/page_drought.html

Expect I will have to post about snow mold disease and flooding, once we get a thaw.

The current drought monitor map of the Northeast.

The current drought monitor map of the Northeast.

Abnormally Dry to Moderate Drought Condition in Much of NJ

I mentioned in my previous post that dormancy has been apparent in many non-irrigated turfs. These conditions still persist throughout the central and northern NJ.

You can view the distribution and severity of the dry conditions throughout the northeastern U.S. at http://www.nrcc.cornell.edu/page_drought.htmlThis map shows that southern NJ is not experiencing drought conditions; whereas, central NJ is experiencing abnormally dry conditions, and northern NJ is experiencing moderate drought. This dryness typically doesn’t last through winter but it is something to watch. Moreover, you should assess your landscapes for any potential susceptibility to winter desiccation.

I want to share a some observations and ideas that have  come up while discussing this topic with turf managers.

  1. In those areas experiencing limited rain this fall, there has been very little recovery from summer stresses on non-irrigated turfs (and other plantings). These turfs may benefit from an application of a slow release N source to ensure recovery starts when water levels improve in late winter and early spring. Recall that NJ prohibits N applications to turf by professionals after December 1st (except on golf courses).
  2. While dry soil conditions this fall may have induced dormancy of the grass, the grass may be vulnerable to extended dryness through the winter especially in localized areas of turf that are sloped (water runs off) and exposed. These dry areas could experience desiccation damage if there are cold harsh winds combined with little to no snow or rain. If feasible, some irrigation of these areas before winter sets-in may be helpful in avoiding winter damage.
  3. Localized dry areas may have developed water repellency (become hydrophobic). These areas could benefit from an application of wetting agents to improve infiltration of rain and snow melt into the soil. Even if the soil is not hydrophobic, wetting agents will improve water infiltration of irrigation or winter precipitation.

Let’s hope that precipitation becomes more typical where it is currently dry.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Dormancy in October? It is very dry and cool.

I spent a couple days this past week teaching in a turf care training program at Central Park in NYC. Many lawn areas in Central Park that are not irrigated were entering dormancy because of the dry soil conditions. And as you look around there is an increasing acreage of turf as well as shrubs and trees in our area that are being challenged by drying soil conditions. Fortunately, it is cool and many plants are tolerating the drying by entering dormant.

Lawn area entering the onset of dormancy. Shoot growth is shutting down and leaves are wilting.

However, managers should think about their end of the season programs related to irrigation shut down [Read more…]

“Rain Shadows”

Many people are aware that tree root competition is part of the challenge of maintaining turf within the drip line of trees. But the canopy of trees also contributes to the challenge by capturing and retaining much, and in some cases all, of a rain.

Rain shadows have been evident for some time now but the damage from the soil dryness has reached moderate to severe levels over the last couple weeks. Many of the lighter rainfalls over the last month haven’t wet the grass let alone the soil under large trees at Hort Farm No. 2 in North Brunswick.

The cumulative effects of a "rain shadow" and tree root competition lead to drought stress under trees.

Green Kyllinga Found in North Brunswick

Uh-oh! We now have green kyllinga at Hort Farm No. 2 in North Brunswick. Joe Clark found it in a field that was sprayed with glyphosate. Most everything died but the kyllinga! Carrie Mansue has made some collections of kyllinga and will be doing some herbicide tests in the greenhouse this winter to determine which materials have the best activity on the this very difficult to control weed.

Keep a lookout for this weed, if left alone it will spread by rhizomes. Carrie has visited lawns that were essentially overrun by kyllinga. Once kyllinga achieves that level of dominance, control is nearly impossible without complete renovation. See previous post on the topic.

Live patch in foreground is kyllinga that survived a spray with glyphosate. Yellowed plants to left are yellow nutsedge.

Battling Green and False Kyllinga in New Jersey Turfs

We are seeing and hearing about increasing problems with green and false kyllinga; both are very troublesome invasive weed species that have moved northward into New Jersey. Green kyllinga and false green kyllinga are very similar in appearance, and both are referred to as green kyllinga. Green kyllinga is very difficult to control once large mats form.

These weeds thrive under mowing and are prolific in areas that are poorly drained or frequently wet. If you do not have [Read more…]

Crabgrass Emerging

Back on May 24, I posted about my observation of crabgrass emerging in areas that had very thin turf cover and very high levels of crabgrass seed in the soil. Crabgrass is now emerging from areas with healthier turf and good density (and has not received a preemergence herbicide application). Recent and forecast rains are likely to [Read more…]

Anthracnose Active on Annual Bluegrass

Anthracnose disease was active as early as April 16 this year and has intensified in recent weeks on our low N fertilization plots.

Active anthracnose disease on annual bluegrass (Poa annua) plots in North Brunswick NJ, 16 April 2013.

One of our experiments has the objective of determining whether anthracnose can be managed with curative sprays if [Read more…]

Dollar Spot Activity Flares Overnight

The high humidity of last night (28-29 May) caused dollar spot disease to escalate. Until last night, symptoms on unprotected susceptible turf were minor.

The cottony fungal growth (mycelia) of dollar spot, which is easily seen at early morning hours during wet humid weather.

Susceptible grasses grown under low N fertility will typically have [Read more…]

Slow Green-up of Kentucky Bluegrass

There are numerous elite varieties of Kentucky bluegrass (Compact Types) that have excellent tolerance of leaf spot, summer patch, and stripe smut diseases. Many varieties produce a very attractive, dense, compact (low growing) turf with dark green color during the summer.

Some elite varieties of Kentucky bluegrass exhibit slow spring green-up (plot in center foreground).

[Read more…]