One of the most important roles of extension education is to retrieve and share scientific knowledge recent or historical. My role as a county agent is to share with our community pertinent information in a timely manner. Because scientific knowledge created by extension services is not own by anyone, this information is considered unbiased and trustworthy, and since Extension does not benefit economically from selling products, our recommendations are considered legitimate based in real life experiences. Because we have many real state owners that take care of their own lawns, trying to reach them in a timely manner can be a challenge, since residents can select the best way to keep informed. Our recent colder and high moisture weather has made lawn care a challenge. Weeds keep popping out and sometimes getting the mower going thru overly water saturated soils can be tricky. I personally have my riding mower stuck several times as I was trying to keep up with the lawn. A common weed growing recently in our lawns are dandelions. According to Richard Duble, former extension turf specialist, the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a troublesome weed in lawns throughout the transition zone. Although it is found in every southern state, it is most troublesome in the cooler regions where it persists year-round. The bright yellow flower of the dandelion appears from early spring through summer in the transition zone where it contrasts sharply with the color and texture of turf grasses. In the Gulf States the flowering period ends in late spring. The dandelion is frequently cited as having medicinal values. Plants are sometimes eaten raw in salads or blanched like endive and used as a green. Dandelion roots have been used medicinally as a simple bitter laxative. Chinese regard the whole plant as useful for abscesses, boils, snakebites, ulcers and other internal injuries. The dandelion is a perennial plant with a deep, thick taproot. A rosette of basal leaves emerge from the crown of the plant. The leaves are long, narrow, deeply notched with backward pointed lobes. The leaves and flower stalk contain a milk-like juice. Flower stalks are long and slender and terminate in a single flower. The flower is 1 to 1° inches across and consists of bright yellow to orange-yellow petals. The flower head is surrounded by narrow pointed bracts with the outer ones curved backwards. The seeds are brown, -inch long, narrow, with a parachute-like pappus attached to a long beak at the upper end. The dandelion flowers from April through June and seed mature and disperse quickly after the bloom appears.
Dandelions are readily controlled by 2,4-D, or products containing 2,4-D, if applications are made in fall or early spring before the plants begin to flower. After flowering begins, 2,4-D will twist and curl the leaves and flower stalks, but the plants often survive the treatment. Agricultural applications of 2-4 D are regulated by the Texas Department of Agriculture. The Hopkins County Pesticide Applicator training will be conducted May 29, 2015 at the Hopkins County Extension Office starting at 8:00 AM. The training is for those applicants interested in getting a NEW private applicator license ONLY. The cost of the training is $20. Educational materials should be purchases ahead at the Hopkins County Extension Office as soon as possible with a cost of $40. Call 903-885-3443 to RSVP. The Hopkins County Master Gardeners have scheduled their annual plant swap for June 6, 2015 at the parking lot of Bright Star Veterinary Clinic located at 744 Gilmer Street in Sulphur Springs from 9:30 to 12:30. Locally grown plant will be available for a donation. For more information on this or any other agricultural topic please call the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443 or email me at [email protected].