Plan to Reduce Summer Weeds

Remember last summer? The hot, dry days.  Grass drying up and turning brown.  Yet, the weeds are green and doing fine.  However, every herbicide label warns against applying when the temperatures are above 85 degrees and especially under drought conditions.  Those weeds flourished and dispersed seed everywhere.  Now, they are just sitting there ready to sprout again.

It’s time to start thinking about weed prevention.  Pre-emergent herbicides need to be applied prior to seed germination.  Late winter is the time to focus on summer annual weeds.  The narrow window of application is challenging.  Homeowners often wait too late into spring to put out preventative products.  A general rule of thumb for pre-emergent herbicide timing is February 15 – March 1 in North Florida.

However, weed seeds germinate in response to soil temperature, not calendar dates.  By monitoring day time temperatures, one can determine a more effective application date.  When there are 4-5 consecutive days that reach 65 to 70 degrees weeds will germinate.  This generally coincides with the first blooms appearing on azaleas and dogwood.  With a warm winter it may occur as early as mid-January.

Some of the active ingredients in pre-emergent herbicides include dithiopyr, isoxaben, oryzalin, pendimethalin, prodiamine and simazine.  Always read the label for specific weed controlled and observe all directions, restrictions and precautions.

Weed and feed products that contain nitrogen are not suitable as pre-emergent herbicides.  Irrigation before and after application is necessary to activate these products.  The chemical binds to soil particles, creating a barrier that remains effective for 6-12 weeks.  Reapplication will be necessary for season long control, especially with constantly fluctuating winter temperatures.  Now is the time to purchase pre-emergent herbicides and prepare to apply them. For more information on weed control in lawns go to: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep141