Armyworms, crepe myrtles, and more

Published 1:11 am Sunday, October 28, 2007

There is no doubt this past week has brought the season’s change into perspective. Enjoy this last week of evening daylight because time change is coming soon. This week I will follow up on some questions I have answered in the past and have had your follow-up calls about.

Q. How long should I scout for armyworms?

Unfortunately the cold weather last week was not quite cold enough to knock them out. Temperatures in the lower 40s will usually cause them to bury down in the ground and leave us alone until next year. Unfortunately we only got into the lower 50s and upper 40s so keep scouting a little longer.

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Q. If I have armyworms do I need to replant?

I looked at several locations where armyworms have destroyed food plots. If you have a newly planted area the armyworms have eaten to the ground, I recommend you replant. When armyworms devour young forage to the ground, the root systems are usually not strong enough to withstand the stress to come back and survive. If you catch them in the early stages of attack then you can use pesticides to eradicate them and you should be fine.

Q. Can I still prune crepe myrtles?

For some reason I have received numerous crepe myrtles calls over the last few weeks. I would recommend you wait until late winter or early spring to prune your crepe myrtles. When you prune crepe myrtles you promote new growth. This is great in the spring but by doing it now you only set the whole plant up for shock when the cold weather sets in. They are beginning to go dormant so I would allow them to rest for the winter and prune to the desired size at the appropriate time. I will answer more on this question when pruning time comes around.

Q. Is there anything to do now to help next year’s spring lawn?

If you are one of the many homeowners who spent time and money on irrigation, fertilizer, weed control, and other lawn care needs last spring and summer and still had an undesirable lawn, there could be things working against you that you don’t know about. Many lawns in our area may have a less than desirable soil pH and/or nutrient balance. Nutrient availability, pH levels, and soil quality can be easily identified by having a $6 soil analysis conducted on your lawn. Liming sources take months to alter the pH so putting lime out now will give you a head start for next spring. The winter rains during the idle months of turf growth will help get the lime reacting in the soil. Not only does proper soil pH have an effect on the availability of necessary nutrients needed by the turf plants, but it also is important in the activity of microbes that help decompose the thatch that has been building over the growing season. No more than 50 pounds of a liming material per 1,000 square feet should be applied at any single application to an established lawn.

Therefore, if you have less than desirable soil conditions it may take a few applications to get your spring lawn on the right track, take advantage now as you have a few months to work with.

David Carter is the direector of the Adams County extension service.