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Preparing the Lawn for Summer

Many gardeners are patiently awaiting for temperatures to begin to warm up. During our winter period, is important to prepare our lawns for the springs season. Walking in a green fresh lawn barefooted is one of the first joy of the springs arrival. However, there is nothing more frustrating than walking in a lawn and run into some burrs. Those little seed pods hurt and can turn an otherwise pleasant experience into a painful one. The most common burr in Texas is the grassburrs (Cenchrus spp), however, there are others plants with burrs that can also infest our lawns. One of those is the carpet burweed or lawn burweed (Soliva spp.), a cool season annual introduced from South America, has become a nuisance on golf courses, athletic fields, parks and lawns throughout much of Texas and the Southwest. The weed becomes a real nuisance when the seed matures in the spring because the sharply pointed spines on the seed can easily pierce the skin. Burweed becomes a deterrent to the use of athletic fields, parks and playgrounds in the spring when the seed mature. On golf courses, burweed invades even the most closely mowed putting greens as well as fairways, tees and roughs. Burweed is a small, low-growing annual plant. In an unmowed site, it only reaches 2 inches in height and the individual plants may spread out to about 6 inches in diameter. Leaves are pinnately divided giving the plant a feathery appearance. The seed enclosures are flattened, callous structures terminating in teeth on spines. Burweed emerges in early fall and matures in the spring. The vegetative part of the plant dries up in May and the seeds remain to germinate the next fall. Populations of the weed may become so high that plants cover the ground like a carpet-thus, the name “carpet burweed.” Where grassy weeds such as annual bluegrass are eliminated by the use of preemerge herbicides, populations of burweed increase dramatically in following years. Like most broadleaf weeds, burweed is easily controlled in the seedling stage with hormone-type herbicides. Products containing 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba will control burweed in the seedling stage. It is important to remember that metabolic herbicides require plant intake, so the plant has to be metabolically active (usually greened up) for the herbicide to be effective. Preemerge herbicides are generally not effective for burweed control. In fact, burweed populations increase where preemerge herbicides reduce the competition. Simazine and atrazine are exceptions in that they effectively control burweed. For more information of this or any other agricultural topic please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443.

Author: KSST Webmaster

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