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Fall notes

By John Fulton

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[September 15, 2009]  With fall seeming to arrive early, there are several things that could occupy your time. Let's start with grass seedings. A week ago would have probably been better for seeding new grass, but what difference does a few days make? Maybe no difference, and maybe a big one. If you are still interested in trying to get some new grass seed put down, don't delay too long. You will need up to four weeks to get bluegrass germinated and then an additional period of time to get it sufficiently mature before things freeze up this fall.

Figure about 4 pounds of a blend of Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue (red or chewings) and perennial ryegrass per 1,000 square feet of area for bare ground. If overseeding, cut the rate in half. Go easy with fertilizer if you aren't tilling it in ahead of time, since the salt content of the fertilizer may affect the small grass seeds.

The time frame for grass seedings would also apply to operations such as dethatching and core aeration.


With skyrocketing populations of soybean aphids, we will have a corresponding increase in the numbers of predators of aphids. This means ladybugs, syrphid flies and other insects that eat aphids will drastically increase in number.

The problem comes when the soybeans mature, the aphids die and the predators look for other food sources. This means they come to your house and then become nuisance pests. Of course, they will clean out most of the aphids in your flowers and other plants around the house as well, but that may be of little consolation when your porch light has a million Asian lady beetles in it.

Make sure seals and screens fit tightly, and you can do an area spray with a flying insect killer. The vacuum cleaner remains one of the best tools to use in the home.


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Leaves have been falling for quite a while. They will fall more rapidly as the days progress. Try to keep them mowed or picked up to avoid deep piles.

On some trees, particularly oaks, this premature leaf fall is, well, premature. It usually indicates disease problems, and in the case of pin oaks, may indicate an eventually terminal disease. Many pin oaks are being infected with bacterial leaf scorch, which causes leaves to look like they have been through a drought and drop early. This is caused by a bacteria plugging up the tissues in trunks and limbs. It is probably transmitted by leafhoppers or treehoppers, but little is known about the disease.

There have been no successful treatments in the north-central states, but experts are still working on it. There have been some successful treatments in the South, but those same treatments have struck out here.


Remember to let perennial flowers retain their leaves as long as they are green. These leaves are making food for storage in the roots, bulbs or crowns for next year. Premature mowing will reduce the food storage and could lead to weak plants or even death. When the leaves turn brown, they can then be removed. It's too early yet, but remember to leave a couple of inches on things like mums. There is quite a bit of food stored in the above-ground portions of these types of plants.

[By JOHN FULTON, University of Illinois Extension, Logan County]


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