A midsummer lawn status report …


By Dave Case

On Fertile Ground

The grass is always greener except when it’s not! Diseases, insects and weeds don’t have to take over our summer!

We are all enjoying the beautiful spring lawn we’ve worked so hard on, but it soon could get hammered by summer heat and drought. Right now, things look great but just wait a few weeks. The stress from high temperatures and low moisture can cause our thick, healthy turf into a lawn peppered with problems. Fortunately, there are a few things we can do!

1. Mowing techniques: We’ve already talked previously on this! Proper mowing practices are crucial for maintaining a healthy lawn during the summer months. Taller plants grow much deeper roots which have better access to water. Set your mower blade to a height of around 3-4 inches or more (we mow at 4.25-4.5”), as taller grass shades the soil and helps retain moisture. Avoid cutting more than one-third of the grass blade length at a time to prevent stress and sunburn. Regularly (more than once a year!) sharpen the mower blades to ensure clean cuts, which reduce the risk of disease. Additionally, leaving grass clippings on the lawn provides nutrients and moisture to the soil. They also act as a temporary mulch that can lower the soil surface temperature. Clippings also encourage earthworm activity which have a ton of benefits (increased water holding capacity, reduces thatch, perfect slow-release fertilizer).

2. Watering wisely: June and July in Champaign County typically brings us hot and dry weather. Right now, things look good. To keep your lawn hydrated, establish a consistent watering schedule. Water deeply and infrequently, aiming for around one inch of water per week, including rainfall. Watering early in the morning helps minimize evaporation, while allowing the grass to dry before evening prevents disease development. How much to water? I recommend 1.5 inches per week for lawns, 5 minutes per tree, 1 minute per shrub and 10 seconds per perennial. How often? 1 time per week in normal temperatures or 2 times per week in hot weather. How to measure? A rain gauge or a coffee cup!

Conclusion: Maintaining a vibrant and healthy lawn in Ohio during June/July requires careful attention and proactive measures. Enjoy the benefits of a thriving lawn and make the most of your Champaign County summer!

Let’s talk mulching for a bit. Here are some do’s and don’ts!

Don’t mulch too high around a tree. The mulch should be donut shaped and not volcano shaped!

Don’t over mulch! Maybe 3 inches high and 3 feet around the tree.

Weed barriers really aren’t needed if you mulch. The mulch layer will control most weed growth.

Do mulch anytime of the year! Fall is also good time, not just spring.

Quick tips

Prune Evergreens now through late August.

Thin fruits on fruit trees. One fruit for every 6 inches to 8 inches of branch.

Keep gardens and beds weeded.

Sow green beans, cucumbers, lettuce, beets, sweet corn, zucchini every 2-3 weeks.

It will soon be Champaign County Fair time; can you believe it? I plan to exhibit corn, soybeans, wheat, clover, hay, and a hardwood cutting board in the shape of Champaign County with the townships outlined! Make it a point to see something new at our Fair. Clover Seed and

Hay will be new entries for me.

Little bit shorter issue this time! Last month was a 2-cup-of-coffee version. This one, hope

you can read with one cup!

Ag sector

It will soon be fungicide time in corn. Obviously, little to no disease pressure thus far.

Whether a fungicide application in corn will pay off depends on if the disease will be a pest and rob yield as well as the economics (corn price and application costs). What does it take for a disease to develop? Four things. 1) Disease pathogen present. 2) Favorable environment and with all our irrigated corn in the central valley, greater risk exists. 3) Susceptible host from your hybrid and corn after corn. 4) Time. Catch the disease early before it robs yield. When to apply? Look at VT or R1 or slightly earlier. Follow the label of the product.

Have you heard of Tar Spot? Fairly new disease. They’ve found it in Clark, Miami, and Logan but I’m not aware that it’s been found here. Corn production under irrigation is at a much greater risk than non-irrigated.

Corn crop conditions are 66% good to excellent for corn and soybeans in Ohio. Of our neighboring states, Michigan is in the toughest shape, 28% good to excellent for corn and 23% good to excellent for beans.

Head scab of wheat and double crop: Right now, the models say low risk for Fusarium.

Wheat harvest has begun! If you’re going to double crop soybeans, harvest early (18-20%), make combine adjustments to maintain soil moisture, decrease residue. Select seed that will allow for an effective herbicide plan for the weeds you will have. Plant at 1-1.5 inches and increase seeding rate. Plant into moisture. Be sure to scout for insects and diseases. Use a seed treatment.

Have you registered for the Champaign County Hay Day on July 6? I’ll be there. It’s at Channel Farm starting at 10 a.m. Contact the Extension Office to register. See you there!

Question or comments? Email me at DaveCaseAg@gmail.com

A graduate of the University of Kentucky, Dave Case majored in Agronomy and Ag Econ with an emphasis in Weed Science. Dave’s career spanned Champaign Landmark, Crow’s Hybrid Corn Company and 30 years with Bayer CropScience. In 2018, Case formed Case Ag Consulting LLC. He is a member of Alpha Gamma Rho Agricultural Fraternity. He is on the Board of Directors of the Agribusiness Association of Kentucky, Chairman of the Ohio AgriBusiness Association Educational Trust Foundation and Secretary of the Alpha Gamma Rho Alumni Board. He is on the Board of Directors of the Champaign Family YMCA, Champaign County Historical Society Agricultural Capital Campaign Committee and is a Trustee for the Champaign County Farm Bureau. Dave and his wife Dorothy live on a small farm south of Urbana where they raise goats, cattle, chickens and various crops and they donate all profits to Pancreatic Cancer Research. Dave can be reached at DaveCaseAg@gmail.com.

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