Rain may be in short supply

Published 12:07 am Sunday, February 3, 2008

Many of you may be hoping for some drier days after a wet and soggy January. However, even with the steady rain last month, we are still about 9 inches behind on needed rainfall and it does not look like we will catch up anytime soon.

The National Weather Service is predicting La Nina conditions for the next 90 days. Therefore, it appears we will have lower than normal rainfall and higher than normal temperatures in Mississippi and the southeast until at least May 1.

As you may probably be thinking, the weather man often seems like he is wrong more than right but these calculations take in numerous factors so you must give it some credibility. This does not mean that it will not freeze in April or stop raining in February; it just means the normal conditions will be skewed slightly. For vegetable gardeners this means we can put in warm season crops a little earlier if we have frost protection. Frost protection can mean wrapping the tomato cages with plastic wrap or putting old sheets over the plants to protect them from the one night of adverse temperatures. It also means that the cool season vegetables may grow to maturity a little quicker than normal, and if predicted dry conditions occur it also means irrigation will be the key to getting a good harvest.

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Q. How do I eliminate weeds in my yard now?

Hopefully not many of you are mowing lawns or even thinking about it right now.

Now is not the time to mow or fertilize but is the time to apply pre-emergence and/or post-emergence herbicides that have activity on many winter weeds such as henbit, chickweed, clover, lawn burweed, wild garlic and wild onions and seeds of warm season weeds.

Keep in mind post-emergence herbicides are effective on current growing fall weeds and pre-emergence herbicides are effective on unemerged seeds that will grow into spring and summer weeds.

While our warm season lawns are still dormant and the weeds are actively growing we can allow these weeds to get tall enough to get maximum herbicide coverage and absorption through a post-emergence herbicide. This will help reduce the number of seeds produced thus reducing and making it easier to control weeds next fall. Once mowing begins there is less leaf surface on these weeds and they have by then matured into a reproductive stage making them much harder to control.

Herbicides such as 2,4-D or dicamba have excellent activity on most annual broadleaf species and have fair activity on wild garlic and wild onions. Do not use 2, 4-D on St. Augustine lawns.

Products containing atrazine are safe and effective on most common warm season turf grass species and provide good pre- and post-emergence control. So to sum this up, if you apply an application of atrazine to your yard now it will serve as both a pre- and post-emergence herbicide and you should have enhanced weed control for the coming months.

For specific use rates and timing always read the label of any chemical before applying as not all products are labeled for residential turf or for all warm season turf species.

David Carter is the director of the Adams County Extension Service. He can be reached at 601-445-8201.