There are several products available to eliminate nuisance
fruit. The most common is ethephon, and it is used as a foliar
spray to reduce or eliminate undesirable fruit or seeds. A
couple of the trade names are Florel and Ethrel. The product is
effective at eliminating much of the fruit without affecting
leaf growth and color, and it does not harm other plants that
get some spray drift on them. It also does not affect the actual
flowering of the treated trees.
With ethephon, the key is in
the timing. The application must be made during flowering but
before the fruit sets in. For most flowering trees there is a
10- to 14-day window of opportunity. Sweet gums are a little
tricky since there are no showy flowers involved, so effective
sprays should occur just as new leaves begin to emerge. Sprays
should leave leaves wet, but not to the point of dripping. Good
coverage of the tree is needed, so keep in mind the size of the
tree when you are weighing this option. There are injectable
products available, but they must be applied by a professional.
The injectable products have not been as effective as the
This product is a growth regulator that naturally occurs. Its
natural production is stimulated by stress, so make sure you
aren't treating a tree that is under stress from drought, high
temperatures, diseases or other environmental stresses. Treating
stressed trees can cause severe injury to the plant, such as
leaf loss or scorching.
Crabgrass seed has already germinated and will continue to do
so throughout the spring and summer months. Preventive
treatments will still do some good for seed that will germinate
over the next six to eight weeks but won't get seeds already
germinated. The organic arsenicals, such as DSMA and MSMA, will
control newly germinated grass. Remember, you should have a
second preventive application around June 1 for summer control
of crabgrass and other annual grasses.
The time to begin mowing has already arrived in some areas,
and there are a few very simple rules for mowing grass. The
first is to use equipment that is ready for the job. Make sure
the mower has sharp blades. Dull blades will show up as injury
on the grass blades, like brown tips and jagged edges. Blades
can be sharpened in several ways. Using a file or grinder are
the more common methods.
Next is the rule of one-third. Never remove more than
one-third of the leaf blade at any one time. This rule must be
followed if you don't want to catch or rake the grass. A good
general mowing height for combination bluegrass and fine fescue
is about 2 inches. This would mean that you would need to mow
every time the grass reached 3 inches in height.
Bagging grass clippings may actually add to the build-up of
thatch (that dead matted layer on the soil surface). Thatch is
broken down by microbes at the soil surface. Without a food
source, the microbe numbers crash, and any clippings remain
without breaking down.
Mulching is OK. It isn't a cure-all, and it does take quite a
bit of extra power to accomplish. The final word is that grass
mowed on the one-third rule doesn't need to be caught or
mulched. Bagging takes time and the clippings must then be
disposed of. Mulching takes extra power and fuel.
Mowing intervals depend upon grass growth rather than a
calendar schedule. The spring and fall periods will require more
frequent mowing than during the summer. That is in a "normal"
year. Mowing frequently really reduces the labor needed for
University of Illinois Extension]