Weeds flowering in 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.      

Dandelions have had their first flush of the bright yellow flowers in many areas of the state and are now in the puff ball stage. If you feel the need to burn down some dandelions, the puff ball stage is a good time to do it. Of course, the best time is in the fall but as the saying goes, then you don’t really get to see them die, they just won’t be there next spring. Usually the turf areas that are really infested with dandelions are the thin areas. If you can simply improve the density of the turf with sound management practices such as mowing high, returning clippings, providing adequate nutrition, and improving the soil through core aeration, you will probably start to see the turf out compete the dandelions and other weeds for that matter.

Besides dandelion that is flowering everywhere in turf right now, there are numerous other weeds that are displaying their best spring colors. For some of these weeds this spring flowering is a sign that their life is about over. Proper identification of what weed you are dealing with can save you time and money. Currently common chickweed, henbit, shepherd's purse, yellow rocket and corn speedwell are all flowering. Without understanding their life cycle, some might think this is a great time to control these weeds. However, these weeds are all winter annuals; they germinate in the fall, overwinter, and then flower and produce seed in the spring. If you apply herbicide now, they will be dead and gone in two to three weeks. If you do nothing, they will be dead and gone in three weeks.

Perennial weeds that are flowering throughout many areas of Michigan include creeping speedwell, germander speedwell, ground ivy and wild violet. Unlike the winter annuals, treating these perennial weeds with a broadleaf herbicide during the spring flowering period will be effective and will not be a waste of your time as these weeds will be sticking around all year. The best web resource for helping you identify weeds and understanding their life cycle is www.msuturfweeds.net.

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