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March Landscapes – Another banner year for insects?

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With another mild winter, are insects poised to inflict more damage in 2019?

The year 2018 will be remembered well in the landscape industry. It was a remarkable year for us all due to the hyperactive insect activity we experienced in our lawns and landscapes.

Why did this happen? It began more than a year ago, believe it or not, when winter decided to not make an appearance in Texas. More insect larvae survived the winter and the populations exploded in late spring and summer.

It began with the early feeding of grub worms. When temperatures are warmer, they will creep closer to the surface and begin feeding earlier in the season. Add to that the higher number of them that survived the winter.

Then Chinch bugs began their onslaught a full month early. By mid-August, lawns all over the DFW Metroplex were showing damage.

A month later, a rare infestation-level of army worms began and took their toll on lawns.

The bad news is – the 2018-2019 winter seems to have skipped most of the state again, setting up another year of war with insects.

What you can expect – earlier starts to the grub worms feeding. They normally start in mid-June but will begin this year around the first of May. So you will need to apply early this year.


Chinch bugs will probably been seen as early as early July. Chinch bug damage will almost always be observed near concrete, stone, metal – sources that will heat up in the full sun. You won’t see them in shady areas.


Army worms in September/October – they work like an army, hence their name. They conquer and destroy. Treating early can put an end to it before it causes too much damage.

Other insects:
Aphids and Scale will be attacking Crape Myrtles and various types of shrubs. I’ve even seen Scale on Texas Sage. Scale is a white, crusty looking thing that really doesn’t look like an insect. They will attach to the limbs and trunks of the Crapes and feed on the plant itself.

If you have a back yard vegetable garden, prepare yourself now for the various insects that will be visiting your location. Have your deterrents and treatments in hand and ready to use.

 

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Fall, winter rains set up spring bluebonnet show

According to Wildflower Haven (www.wildflowerhaven.com), a group that keeps track of wildflower seasons, Texas should enjoy an above average year of Bluebonnets this spring.

Due to ample rains during the month of October as well as the winter months, this season is set up for bluebonnet success. The Hill Country is rated by the group as the highest probability of early blooms and abundant blooms, North Texas is also rated high as is the Big Bend Country and other parts of the state.

Early blooms should begin appearing as far north as San Antonio by March 10. The blooming extravaganza will begin spreading north as the onset of Spring begins.

Literally thousands of Texans and visitors to Texas will pull over on the highways where they see fields of Bluebonnets in bloom. This is classic picture-taking time with members of the family as well as their pets.

 

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One word of caution to those who will flock to these fields – humans are not the only ones getting back outside now. Snakes are also emerging. So be careful about the area you choose to shoot photos in. Check it first to make sure its clear. Do not allow your child or pet to simply roam these fields without supervision. Being careful is the best way to enjoy the Bluebonnet show and have great pictures of your loved ones.

 

Be Patient with the Spring Color!

I say this every year and will do so again this year – do not plant annual flowers before April 1. March in Texas often features spring-like weather, leading some to go to their favorite nursery or box store and bring home spring flowers.

A week later, Mother Nature sends one of her famous late-spring storms through, plunging temperatures to freezing again and destroying the flowers that were just planted. The whole investment is wasted as well as the effort you put into it.

Historically speaking for Dallas-Fort Worth, April 1 is the date we will have usually seen our last freeze. That said, I have seen snow on April fools Day in Dallas.

Points further south, such as Waco, Austin, San Antonio and Houston, I would still wait and be safe about it.


Lawn Fertilization

The same holds true for lawn fertilization. It feels like spring outside so why not get our work on and get it done? Besides, the grass is already green again, right?

Wrong. Turf is still dormant in March, even though it may have turned green again. If you’re not mowing it, its not growing. So putting down fertilizer during March can result in some very bad things. It can stunt the growth of your turf and instead of seeing it come out in all its glory, you’re left wondering why its struggling when it should be thriving. Hold out until April 1 or later before you put it down.


March – The Live Oak Drop

Live Oaks are abundant in Texas and grow almost all over the state. They are valued because they are evergreen. But for two to three weeks a year, homeowners grow to hate them as they go through the Live Oak Molt. This is the time when the Live Oaks drop their old leaves while simultaneously growing new leaves. They also grow a “flower” which looks more like a small, thin worm. So the clutter can accumulate very quickly this month.

My advice is to wait until this process is completed before you put down your annual mulch. You’re going to want to blow these leaves out and collect/dispose of them. If you mulch before this begins, you’ll be disposing of most of that mulch, too.

Do not allow the leaves to just sit and collect. They may great hiding spots for Copperheads and rattlers and can also be a fire hazard if next to the home.

It is a good and wise practice to take these leaves to the center of your lawn and mulch them with your mower. Once mulched into a fine product, then spread that mulched product all over the lawn. Its way better than sending it to the landfill.

Spring Landscape Feeding

I do recommend that you feed your beds during this month. Use a time-released, granular product so that it can get soaked into the soil and be available when the plant begins growing again in spring.

You may also want to put down pre emergent in the beds at this time.

Weed killers

Its around this time each year that we begin thinking about weed killers because those nasty winter weeds are now out. Those with Bermuda lawns, you’re in luck because you have products that will kill weeds in cool weather. One product is called Speed Zone although other products, such as Red Zone, carry the same basic chemical make up. This will kill weeds in your lawn during cool weather and not hard your turf.

For St Augustine and Zoysia lawns, this is not the case. The products which are used in weed killers designed for those lawns have heat-activated chemicals. That means, unless the temperatures are 85 or above, you’re not going to kill much if anything at all. For now, pull weeds in the lawn until such time that products designed for this turf can work.

(Mark’s column each month is sponsored by Stagecoach Trailers, Inc., of Naples, Texas. Find them at www.stagecoachtrailers.com)

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2 hours ago, Bear19 said:

 Is this latest freeze going to ruin our peach crop this year?

 

I don't think it will ruin it, but I'm sure there are areas where there is some damage. So many orchards will cover their trees if they have bloomed or are blooming. Cross your fingers.

 

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