NDSU Extension Service - Mercer County

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Mowing Lawns, Weed Control in Lawns, Alfalfa Weevils

mowing lawns, weed control, alfalfa weevils

Submitted by Craig Askim, Extension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources

Mowing Lawns

Cool temperatures and moist soil are creating perfect conditions for lawns. Your lawn probably looks better today than it will any time the rest of the year. The recent rains will encourage new growth on the lawn.

Mow your turf tall and let the grass clippings fall. Tall turf will shade the soil, protecting it from summer heat. It also allows for the development of a deeper root system. Don’t collect clippings for your garden; your lawn needs those clippings. Grass clippings shade the soil and conserve moisture. Clippings recycle nutrients into the soil. It’s like getting a free fertilization every year.

As the season progresses mowing becomes quicker and easier. If you want to use grass clippings in your garden, use your neighbor’s clippings, making sure they have not applied any herbicide on their lawn for at least three mowings.

Weed Control in Lawns

Dandelions are starting to bloom. Any herbicide applied this season should be applied as soon as possible before these weeds go to seed. Broadleaf herbicide sprays provide better control than granular weed-and-feed products. Herbicide has to be absorbed by the leaves of the weeds. Some weeds, including clover, have limp leaves and might not be able to hold onto the granules.

Furthermore, most weed-and-feed fertilizers use 2,4-D alone to kill weeds. This will do a good job on some weeds such as dandelion and thistle, but are less effective at controlling clover, ground ivy and wormwood.

Many broadleaf weed spray products contain 2,4-D as well as mecoprop and dicamba (often referred to as Trimec formulations). Such formulations are more useful than 2,4-D alone.

Broadleaf herbicides are toxic and should be used sparingly as they can drift onto nearby garden plants. Regular applications of dicamba can build up in the soil and create stress on nearby perennial flowers and woody plants. 

The best time to use broadleaf herbicides is in the fall. A single application every fall provides enough weed control to satisfy most homeowners.

Alfalfa Weevils

The adult alfalfa weevil has emerged. Last week two adult alfalfa weevils were identified in 100 sweeps of an alfalfa field near Flasher in Morton County. With all the rainfall the last few weeks, the hatching of weevils will increase. The good news is with the recent moisture the alfalfa plant will produce more rapidly than it could last year so alfalfa weevils will hopefully not harm plants as much.

It’s early, but recent moisture may have triggered some adults to emerge. Therefore, producers are encouraged to scout for the alfalfa weevil and carry out proper management practices if needed.

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