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Sowing Grass in the Fall and Fall Lawn Care and Yellowjacket Hornets
By John Fulton

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[August 23, 2016]  Sowing Grass in the Fall and Fall Lawn Care - Fall seeding of grass should be done between August 15 and September 10. This is a tried and true date, but the end of the world won't come about if you are a week later. The goal is to give the seed enough time to germinate and become established before bad weather arrives. Seed at the rate of 4 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet on bare spots, or half that rate on overseedings.

If you have a compacted yard, or have a deep thatch layer, these seeding dates also define ideal times to dethatch or aerate. Thatch layers should not be over 1/2 inch deep for optimum growing conditions. When aerating, make sure you use a core type aerator.

Fall fertilization is also a good practice. If you haven't fertilized in the last month, consider applying a fertilizer treatment around September 1. Use about 8 pounds of 13 13 13 fertilizer per
1000 square feet of lawn. Try to avoid the high nitrogen fertilizers this late in the year. It's hard enough to keep up with the mowing as it is, and nitrogen promotes top growth. The even analysis fertilizers will also promote root growth, which is what we want going into the late fall and winter.

Crabgrass and other annuals grass weeds can be seen about everywhere. They will die with the first frost, so treatment is not available, or recommended, in the fall. Make a note of where these grasses are, and an overseeding to thicken up the grasses you want there may help crowd out the annuals. Preventative treatments may also be applied in the spring (around April 1 depending on soil temperatures) to kill the germinating seeds. As many have found out, a second treatment about June 1 is also necessary since the products only last six to eight weeks.

Last, but not least, is broadleaf weed control. Fall is a particularly good time to treat problem perennial weeds since they are sending food down to the roots to overwinter. A spray
about the 3rd or 4th week of September (making sure to use the appropriate product) can do a world of good on the perennial weeds. Remember to be very careful with herbicides around perennial plants since they are also getting ready to overwinter. Also, waiting this late in the season reduces drift potential for the neighborís garden. Dicamba is particularly prone to vapor drifting, for up to two weeks, with hot, sunny conditions. Itís hard to get a good weather forecast for two weeks, let alone the week we are in.


Yellowjacket Hornets

After discussing the black and yellow syrphid flies earlier, itís time for another black and yellow insect. Yellowjackets are the other common yellow and black insect this time of year, frequently spotted when the festival season begins in the late summer and fall period.

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Yellowjackets can be very aggressive in both biting and stinging. They are usually about twice the size of the syrphid flies, and the easiest way to tell them apart is to count the wings (hopefully without getting stung). Flies have one pair, and bees and wasps have two pairs. Technically the bald faced hornet is also a yellowjacket, but has more white on the face with a black body, rather than the black and yellow banded pattern of the eastern yellowjacket. 

Yellowjackets are most frequently encountered when they scavenge for food. Their habit of feeding on nectar and sugar can create a nuisance. Yellowjackets are attracted to open cups and cans of soda and other sweet liquids. They are also attracted to open cans of garbage, bright flowery clothing, and floral scented perfumes. All outside garbage cans must be kept clean and well covered to reduce yellowjacket problems. Contact with the wasps can be decreased by reducing these attractions at picnics and other outings. In situations closer to home, the elimination of overripe fruit from gardens and orchards will dramatically decrease the number of scavenging yellowjackets. Holding gatherings indoors and using screens on windows will also help avoid yellowjacket problems.

There are a variety of traps on the market that claim to attract yellowjackets. These traps are baited with the scent of rotting fruit or other odors equally as appetizing to the yellowjackets. It is questionable whether these traps can out-compete the natural and man-made attractants described above. However, it is certain that through proper sanitation and removal of natural and man-made attractants, yellowjacket contact can be reduced. However, in situations where the potential for repeated contact exists, other management methods may be necessary. These traps can also attract more yellowjackets if placed close to the home or patio, so place them to attract the insects away from where youíll be.

[By JOHN FULTON, COUNTY EXTENSION DIRECTOR SERVING LOGAN, MENARD, AND SANGAMON COUNTIES]

 

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