Managing stressed turf

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.      

Recent rainfall across some areas of the state have provided some much needed relief to drought-stressed turf, but unless temperatures cool and rainfall becomes more reliable don’t expect non-irrigated turfgrass areas to spring back to life very quickly. We recorded 0.5 inch of precipitation at our research center on campus this week, but on non-irrigated plots this is hardly enough to make up for the deficit in soil moisture conditions that has accumulated over the last month.

Keep in mind that not only the turfgrass has been stressed during the summer heat and drought, but weeds have not really been flourishing either. I’ve noticed that in non-irrigated rough areas on golf courses there is zero crabgrass pressure, but when you look at the rough areas on the edges of irrigation coverage the crabgrass is doing quite nicely. Just like the turf, the weeds need some water to really flourish. If you’ve been providing some irrigation or have been lucky to be under one of the rain showers, crabgrass or broadleaf weeds could be causing you to consider treatment options. Hard to believe, but we’re probably only a little more than a month from our first frost and with the first frost event, all of the warm season annual weeds such as crabgrass will check out for the season. Makes you wonder that if you spray for crabgrass now and then have to come back in a couple weeks for a second application to make sure you burned it all down, you’d be getting close to the date when Mother Nature will take care of the problem for you.

For broadleaf weeds, remember that these weeds are definitely more challenging to kill during the summer heat than they will be in the autumn. Bottom line on the weeds is that if you can have a little patience, either Mother Nature will take care of them for you or an autumn herbicide application will clean up the broadleaf weeds for next season.

Crabgrass on the edge of irrigated turf.

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