Florida Landscape Doctor

Cool Weather Turf Weed Problems

Cool Weather Turfweed

It is that time again. Weeds are present in your lawn. You have a service

that is contracted to take care of the lawn so what about  the turf weeds?  It would be nice to think that after struggling with weeds all summer, the fall and winter would provide a well-deserved break from the concerns of weed control. However, winter weeds begin their life cycle in the late summer through the early fall (when daytime temperatures are in the 70s), grow during the winter and die in the late spring or early summer, typically when temperatures exceed 85*F. As weather conditions become favorable for winter weeds, the growth of warm-season turf grasses begins to slow as they approach dormancy. These weeds compete for sunlight in the open or thin grassy areas of your lawn. These thin grassy areas are thin due to insect infestation, or areas under shade trees, and areas where a fungus has been and the grass has died back. You will rarely see turf weeds in a healthy thick lawn.

   Proper identification of weed species is the first step to a successful weed management program. Control is most effective when weeds are immature (two or four leaf stage) and actively growing. However, proper identification is easier once weeds have matured. Many books and weed guides exist to help you identify the weeds. The second step in managing problem weeds is understanding how weeds grow. Annual weeds complete their life cycle (germinate, grow, reproduce, and die) in a single growing season. Depending on when the annual weed does most of its growing, it is classified as a summer or winter annual. Winter weeds germinate from the late summer through the early spring, growing during the fall, winter and spring, and die in the late spring or early summer.

    Perennial weeds live multiple years. They produce reproductive structures (rhizomes, stolons, fleshy tap-roots, corms and tubers that allow these species to survive from year to year through any conditions. It is hard to control these species because they contain stored food reserves and nodes for root and shoot growth.

    Weed control with selective herbicides is only a temporary remedy.We will always have turf weeds. We need to think of long range terms, especially when it comes to Perennial weeds. The problem you work on today is to suppress or control the problem within a two year period. No quick fix will happen. Just because you or your contractor have a problem that still exists from last winter doesn’t mean it is not working. Sometimes it will take a two year plus regular turf weed control program to get the weeds under control. Once under control implement a preventative maintenance program.

Lastly, identify the weed problem, talk with your contractor or retail outlet store, select the correct product, and choose the correct time to apply the product. Start thinking long range goals to combat the problem and work it over a two to three year plan. Keep your turf healthy and full and you will see the results you desire.

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