If weeds were a problem in your lawn last summer, the coming weeks are the time to apply a preemergence herbicide to prevent their emergence again this year.

Timing of a preemergence herbicide application for summer annual weeds such as crabgrass should be during mid-February to March 5 when day temperatures reach 65° to 70°F for four to five consecutive days. This generally coincides with when azaleas and dogwoods first begin to bloom. Note: This is not true for chamberbitter. Chamberbitter requires warmer soil temperatures to germinate. Apply a preemergence herbicide during April to May 1 when battling chamberbitter.

Most preemergent type herbicides won’t work when applied after weeds are visible. The product must be applied just before the seedlings emerge.

The weeds growing now in local lawns are not summer annuals. Summer annual weed seeds are still dormant awaiting warmer spring temperatures to germinate and emerge.

Most of the weeds in yards now are winter annuals. A few include annual bluegrass, chickweed, henbit, hop clover, lawn burweed and wild geranium. A preemergence herbicide should have been applied during October to help prevent these weeds.

A few common summer annual weeds include crabgrass, Florida pusley, chamberbitter, sandspur, spotted spurge and doveweed.

If your lawn has a history of summer annual weeds, one control option is to apply a preemergence herbicide. Timing is critical in order for preemergence herbicides to work.

Some preemergence herbicides to look for include oryzalin (Surflan), benefin (Sta-green Crabgrass Preventer, Hi-Yield Crabgrass Preventer), pendimethalin (Pre-M, Pendulum, Turf Weedgrass Control, Halts Crabgrass Preventer), benefin + oryzalin (XL), DCPA (Dacthal) and bensulide (Green Light Betasan Crabgrass Preventer).

For season-long weed control, a second application may be needed about six to nine weeks after the initial application. To activate some products, irrigation or rain may be necessary following application. Because preemergence products may interfere with lawn grass seed germination, delay reseeding six to sixteen weeks after application.

Overuse of some types of preemergence herbicides can cause a lawn to produce short stubby weak roots. So only apply the product if there is a pest to control – in this case, if you have had a history of summer annual weeds. Otherwise, save your money and time. Use preemergence herbicides only on lawns that have been established for at least a year. These products can severely injure newly planted lawns.

It is the user’s responsibility to read and follow all label directions and precautions when using any pesticide, including herbicides.

For additional information on lawn weed control, contact the UF/IFAS Extension Office in your County or access the following sites. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep141

Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County

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How 4-H members ‘learn by doing’


Speaker at 2003 4-H Congress (Photo: Thomas Wright)

The 4-H slogan is to “Learn by Doing” and our youths are doing just that by

learning through the experiences that they decide to embark on as club members.

Upcoming weeks will showcase this experiential learning approach. Okaloosa County 4-H has Teen Retreat, 4-H Day at the Capitol, and our County Events coming in February and early March.

Over Presidents Day weekend, the NW District Florida 4-H Teen Retreat will take place at Camp Cherry Lake. This youth-led-weekend gives teens the ability to plan the whole weekend from T-shirt design to workshops and fun shops.

Our teens have been engaged in the entire planning process via virtual planning meetings for months now. The theme this year is the “4-H’ers Guide to an Apocalypse,” with workshops and fun shops that include building bug-out bags, grilling, fishing and even archery!

The 4-H Day at the Capitol is an opportunity for members to travel to Tallahassee on February 22nd to partake in various endeavors. The youths are encouraged to make an appointment with elected officials to discuss the 4-H program.

Youths also have the options to go to the Museum of Florida History, The Tallahassee Museum, Florida State University, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and the Florida governor’s mansion.

County events allow our 4-H youths to show their talents through photography, demonstrations/illustrated talks, graphic design, public speaking, and share-the-fun. County events are implemented through the experiential learning approach. The 4-H youths are making their own decisions, taking risks, applying what they have learned, and learning through reflections.

County events allow them to express what they have learned and receive feedback that they can learn from in a hands-on learning environment. The qualifying youths will have the opportunity to advance to district, state and regional/national events.

Our Okaloosa County 4-H county events registration will end March 5th and the county events will be held on March 10th.

I can be reached via email at twilken@ufl.edu or by calling the UF/IFAS Okaloosa County Extension Office at 850.689.5850 if you would like to find out more about 4-H in our county.

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Care of Freeze Damaged Citrus

Recent freezes resulted in cold damage to some local citrus trees.

Cold injured citrus trees can take a while to become evident. What appears to be damage will not always be permanent. Never be in a hurry to remove cold injured tissue from a citrus tree. Citrus, especially Satsuma, can be very resilient and will often re-sprout on injured tissue. Pruning before this can happen can remove fruit producing branches.

Leaves on a freeze-damaged citrus tree will be hard and brittle. If freeze damage is severe, the leaves will collapse, dry out and fall from the tree. It’s normal for leaves to take on a wilted or drooping appearance during periods of low temperatures. Don’t confuse this with freeze damage. Frozen leaves will not be wilted – they will be hard and brittle.

Freeze damage can also cause the trunk and larger branches to split and the bark to become loose. Twigs and branches may continue to die for up to two years following a severe freeze.

Unless the soil becomes dry, be careful to not water cold injured citrus trees during warm periods that often follow freezes. This will delay the tree’s growth and keep the tree in a more dormant state. Later on, if you see that the damaged tree is putting on new growth, it’s okay to give it a little water.

Delay pruning of damaged limbs until late spring or summer because it’s difficult to determine the extent of damage until spring growth takes place. Pruning also may encourage new tender growth during the cold season.

If it appears that you’ve lost half the tree in a freeze, you’ll only need to apply about half as much fertilizer. If you have the situation where many leaves were lost but twigs and branches were not injured, you’ll need to slightly increase the amount of fertilizer. Fertilization should begin after new growth has occurred come spring. It’s a good idea to make frequent light applications rather than one heavy application.

It’s best to not prune or fertilize citrus trees during fall and winter. Fertilizing your lawn during fall and winter may not only be damaging to your lawn but it can potentially cause cold injury to your citrus trees, as well. The roots on trees (including citrus) extend two to three times beyond the tree’s branches. As a result, citrus tree roots grow out into the lawn. Tree roots in the lawn are shallow. So, late applications of lawn fertilizer will impact your citrus trees as well. Your lawn and citrus needs ample time to use the fertilizer but yet still have time to go dormant before cold weather arrives.

Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County

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Camellia Workshop

As a community service, the Greater Fort Walton Beach Camellia Society (GFWBCS), which is over 50 years old, conducts a free yearly Camellia Workshop to introduce the camellia to area residents. This year’s workshop will be held Saturday, February 3, 9 a.m. to Noon at the Okaloosa County Extension Annex located at 127 NW Hollywood Boulevard in Fort Walton Beach.

Members of the GFWBCS will be available to answer questions and provide demonstrations and handouts on the following topics.

Planting and Care of Camellias – The special planting requirements for your new camellia and a monthly care calendar will be available for your potted and landscape camellias.

Propagation – There are several simple methods to propagate camellias that will be demonstrated. They include air layering, seeds and grafting.

Gibbing/Debudding – Instructions will be given on how to improve the size and quality of your camellia blooms through gibbing and debudding.

Insects/Pests/Diseases – Bring samples of any camellia plant problems you may have for identification and recommended treatment. This might include stem and leaf samples that have suspected scale insects, mites, diseases or nutrient deficiencies. It’s important to bring fresh plant samples that represent what is seen in the landscape. Photos on smart phones, etc., also may be sufficient to ID the problem.

Gardening with Camellias in Containers – This topic will be covered at the workshop, as well. If you don’t have a place to plant them or if you live in a northern climate, consider employing camellias as a potted plant.

Free Back Issues of Camellia Magazines – These will be available in addition to an opportunity to join the GFWBCS and the American Camellia Society.

In addition to the above topics, there will be a limited number of plants for sale and a camellia bloom display. Attendees also may bring fresh camellia blooms or photos of the flowers from unknown camellia plants for identification.

You are invited to come learn more about camellias and have a cup of coffee with the GFWBCS members.

Call Joseph Jenus, GFWBCS Workshop Chairman, at (850) 862-4526 for more info.

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Dos and Don’ts of February Gardening

February can be a confusing month for North Florida gardeners. Winter isn’t over. So don’t let spring fever cause you to make some gardening mistakes. Let’s take a look at some dos and don’ts of February gardening.

Despite colder temperatures that we can experience this month, it’s still okay to plant trees and shrubs from containers. The roots are better protected in the ground and will quickly grow outward to establish as compared to being exposed to cold temperatures above ground, confined in a container. But be cautious about planting cold sensitive tropical plants too soon while freezing weather is likely. Bare-root trees and shrubs (those with no soil attached to the roots) should be in the ground promptly. This includes bare-root nut and fruit trees, pine and hardwood tree seedlings and bare-root roses. Dormant season planting allows time for establishment before hot weather arrives.

February is a good time to transplant or move trees and shrubs that are in the wrong place. Consider moving plants that require pruning to force them to “fit” into small or confined spaces. Move them to an appropriate location where they can grow to full size. Then you can plant something new and appropriately sized for replacement.

Late February is a good time to prune overgrown shrubs such as ligustrum and holly. These plants usually respond well to severe pruning and can be pruned almost to the ground, if necessary. But remember, they will eventually regrow to their larger size. Prune to shape and thin broadleaf evergreens and deciduous flowering trees such as oleander, crape myrtle and vitex. Avoid severely pruning narrow leaf evergreens such as junipers because they have few buds on old wood from which to form new growth. Mid-February is a good time to prune bush roses, removing dead or weak canes. Leave several healthy canes and cut these back to about eighteen inches. Delay doing much pruning on early spring flowering shrubs such as azalea and spirea until shortly after they flower. Pruning these plants now will remove present flower buds before they can open. Prune deciduous fruit trees such as peach, plum, apple, etc.

If your lawn has had a history of problems with summer annual weeds such as crabgrass, apply a preemergence herbicide. This should be done February 15 to March 1 when day temperatures reach 65° to 70°F for 4 or 5 consecutive days. A second application may be needed eight weeks later. Many people fertilize their lawns too early. Wait until mid-April to fertilize to prevent lawn injury and for the most efficient use of the fertilizer.

Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County

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Merry Christmas

From our family to yours

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and all the joy the holidays bring.

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Local Lawn Questions by Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension

Q: In past years I put out ryegrass seed to keep my yard “green” through winter. Will it harm my new centipedegrass (sodded in October) if I overseed with ryegrass seed?

A: The ryegrass can compete with the permanent grass. I’ve seen a number of centipedegrass lawns that were weakened during spring green up, attempting to out compete the ryegrass. The extra fertilizer used on the ryegrass also can cause problems for centipedegrass, possibly inducing centipedegrass decline.

There are pros and cons for overseeding. Overseeding a lawn with ryegrass to create a green lawn during winter is mostly done for cosmetic reasons. Personally, I don’t overseed because I’m ready to take a break from routine lawn care. But this is personal preference. You’ll have to make that decision.

The optimal time to broadcast ryegrass seed is mid-October through mid-November if you wish to have a winter lawn. But there is the possibility of causing some damage in your centipedegrass as a result of overseeding.

Photo credit Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension


Q: Should I let the fall leaves stay on the lawn?

A: You should not allow a thick layer of tree leaves to stay on the lawn for long periods of time. A layer of leaves left on the lawn through winter can reduce oxygen and sunlight availability to the lawn. This may result in a weak, thin lawn come spring. Also, a layer of leaves may hold too much water and possibly cause rot problems for your lawn. A few leaves (scattering of leaves) should not be a problem, though.

Florida home and yard.

Q: What’s the best lawn grass for North Florida?

A: There is no “best” lawn grass. Choosing a lawn grass involves selecting a grass that best fits the site conditions. Is the site shady? Do you have an irrigation system? Is salt spray or saltwater a factor? Means of establishment comes into play? Can the grass be established from seeds or does it require being established from sod, plugs or sprigs? Time and expense involved with maintaining the lawn should be considered. Some lawn grasses require more time and/or money to maintain. Cost of the sod or seed may be a factor. For example, St. Augustinegrass sod usually costs more as compared to centipedegrass sod. Intended use of the lawn may be a factor. Are you trying to prevent erosion on a slope or do you need a play area for children…? Where you expect a lot of foot traffic, you need to consider the wear tolerance of the grass.

The following website should be helpful in choosing a lawn grass that best fits your site and needs. http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/yourfloridalawn


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