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Add to your spring toolbox

Spring planning resources

As spring 2024 approaches, preparation for the growing season starts now. A typical winter was absent in many parts of the country, and so we are extra antsy this year to work on our greenspaces. Now is an ideal time to walk around the yard and identify projects to pursue, needed updates, and a laid-out plan. A lawn care plan would help with the timing of our common management practices such as seeding or overseeding, sodding, aeration, and applications of fertilizer and pre-emergent herbicides. Timing is everything. Biology happens in relation to the weather conditions in our yard, not by date, and so flexibility is the name of the game. To reduce guesswork, we’d like to introduce a few FREE resources to add to your spring toolbox for precise lawn management.

 

 Tool 1: Syngenta’s GreenCast® online soil temperature monitoring tool (soil temperature) 

 

As our soil temperatures begin to rise, grass is going to begin germinating and growing. Cool-season grasses will begin this process when soil temperatures are in the 50s-60s Fahrenheit. Once soil temperatures are within that range or higher, we can initiate spring seeding. It also gives us an estimate of when to expect germination of dormant-seeded grasses. Soil temperatures trigger growth and activity of many organisms in our lawns, including microorganisms, worms, grubs or other insects, and competing weeds. Having a better idea of where your soil temperatures are sitting will help with precision management decisions, avoiding untimely applications that may waste product.

The GreenCast® soil temperature monitoring interface provided by Syngenta.

Tool 2: Michigan State University’s GDD Tracker (pre-emergent herbicide)

 

This is the go-to for the timing of crabgrass pre-emergent applications. Using the “Crabgrass PRE” tab, we can determine the optimum timing for this, as well as a predicted forecast for your area. When it comes to crabgrass and other summer annual weeds, preventing their growth will reduce the number of viable seeds over time. A single large crabgrass plant can produce over 100,000 seeds, making it tough to keep up when populations are thriving. Knowing when to use your pre-emergent herbicide will help the process be more effective. The label is the lawn, so be sure to read the label of the product you are using. Keep in mind that seeding following a pre-emergent herbicide application can’t be done for 1.5 to 18 months depending on the product and rate. 

The GDD Tracker 4.0 interface provided by Michigan State University.

Tool 3: University of Minnesota’s National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) Explorer tool (seed selection)

 

Looking for the best varieties for your situation and area? We present to you the NTEP Explorer tool. NTEP is a program in which varieties of different grass species are evaluated across the country, usually established, and rated at universities. There are a handful of variables available to browse for each trial such as overall turfgrass quality, level of greenness, seedling vigor, and resistance to disease and environmental stressors (amongst other variables). Current and old varieties are entered into the trials, along with many experimental varieties that have potential for release into the market. If the variety name is a series of numbers and letters, it is likely an experimental line testing against market standards. If the grass breeders decided to bring their experimental into market, it will be replaced with a catchy variety name. If you can’t find a specific variety in an NTEP trial, it is possible that it was submitted as an experimental before it was released. In some cases, the experimental name is listed on the technical sheets of a released variety. For example, ‘Valsetz’ turf type tall fescue was once entered into NTEP trials as ‘PPG-TF257’. Proper seed selection is the foundation of a successful lawn long-term, and this tool will help with those decisions.

The NTEP Explorer interface provided by the University of Minnesota and NTEP.

It is our hope that these tools help with spring lawn care planning. Reduce your guesswork, save money and time, improve efficacy, and maintain your lawn in an environmentally responsible manner with these free resources.

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