WINTER WEED CONTROL
By Mike Seaton
The non-grass growing months are an ideal time to tackle those nagging weed control tasks.
Let's be honest, when the grass is growing frantically it is pretty difficult to keep up with some of the more routine tasks that we are responsible for on the sites that we manage. Ask any Turf Manager and he or she will be able to produce a list as long as your arm of the many jobs that they would like to complete if only the grass stopped growing!
The preparation and repair of sports pitches is always a priority and the main reason, after all, why we are employed.
The problem facing Groundsmen and Women today is that the seasons are changing and there is in fact no set date when the grass will stop growing and the mowers can be sent into the workshop for their autumn maintenance.
Late autumn and winter usually bring a reduction in time spent mowing however, and we all heave a sigh of relief. We may now review some of the jobs that we need to catch up on, those that slipped during the growing season, and one of these may be getting to grips with weed control.
As with mowing, weed control should be a carefully planned operation, but all too often it is reactive rather than pro active. The overall strategy and approach should always be to break the weed cycle. Being reactive to weed activity can often cost more in the long run.
Weeds are visually unsightly and can quickly ruin the fabric of a building, path or fence line. Never underestimate the power of the root structure of a weed. For example, the root of a grass plant can exert ten times the pressure you have in your car tyre, which could amount to 300 pounds per square inch or 20 Bar. When you consider the much larger root structure of a thistle you can imagine the potential damage that these unwanted plants could inflict! Weeds can also present a fire and trip hazard.
At this time of year you may be burdened with weeds in some or all of the following areas: - fence lines, tree rings, building lines, block or brick paving, car parks, non crop areas, shrub borders and plantations.
The weed types that you may need to control could be seedling weeds, established annual weeds, perennial weeds, woody weeds, grasses and weeds on bare soil and gravel surfaces, and you need to select the correct control product and application equipment to achieve the desired results.
Many residual total weed killers kill mature plants so at least you have the chance to control the visible and existing weeds at the same time. Outside the spectrum of control of cold soil acting total herbicides, you will have to rely on translocated weed killers that are absorbed through the leaf of the growing weed and move down the phloem of the plant to the roots.
The work that you put in over the quieter months will pay big dividends in the spring and throughout next year. Should you apply a residual weed control product to areas this autumn, you will need to follow up with a couple of Glyphosate applications as a spot spray along fence and building lines for example in May or June, depending on the prevailing weather patterns.
What have you got to lose? Controlling unsightly weeds now will buy you time next year and improve presentation. As we all know, first impressions definitely count!
Always read the label - use pesticides safely. Contact your Turf Care Products distributor for details on the products available for total weed control programmes.
Mike Seaton is Managing Director of Weed Free. You can contact him on Tel: 07000 481011