From Across the Field: 5/14/2020

It’s amazing how much different this year is compared to last. In 2019 our greatest amount of planting progress was made in mid June, and this year we are nearly complete in Henry county. My colleagues to the south of I-70 are facing wetter conditions similar to what we had here last May. The cold temperatures over the last week has slowed down crop emergence, which is good with regards to frost damage, however with low crop prices even emergence can be critical. Looks like we’re in for a few wet days and then finally some heat will arrive to help things along.

The frost has slowed down and stunted some of our forage crops in the area, alfalfa is relatively short and orchard grass may have took the worst of the freeze here in NW Ohio.

Starting next Wednesday, May 20 at 8:00am join Stephanie Karhoff, Williams Count Agriculture Educator and myself for a virtual coffee hour. Details of how to log in are at our county Facebook page and at Bring your agriculture related a questions and a good cup of coffee.

Another thing that is progressing this year is the grass in our lawns. Almost all of our lawns are comprised of cool season grasses. Before long the grass will be producing a seed head. I think this is one of the most important times of the year for our lawns. While grass is producing seeds, it is in what we call the “reproductive” stage of the plant and net energy of the plant is moving up. Once we cut off the seed heads, the plant transitions to a “vegetative” stage and energy tends to move from the leaf to the roots, or net energy is moving down. Once seed heads are cut off, it will be a great time to do two things; raise the deck height of the mower and fertilize the lawn. I recommend raising the deck ½”, so if you are mowing at 2-2.5”, raise the deck to 2.5-3”. This will allow for longer grass leaves in the turf, providing more energy to the roots, and a thicker cover, keeping the soil cooler and capturing more rain during a heavy downfall.

A little fertilizer now will help keep the turf green and build root reserves to better handle the stress of the summer. I recommend ½-1 pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet. This will green up the lawn but not make it grow too fast.

It sounds like we may finally be getting close to the time to put out our annual flowers. We are a little late this year due to the cold weather. Once planted, consider “pinching” the plants, which you can accomplish be removing the top 1-2 inches from the growing tip and leaving 3 or 4 leaves.  Plants that are pinched right after planting produce more flowers during the growing season, even though the earliest blooms are often sacrificed and the plants look a little small afterwards.  This is particularly true of petunias which often get leggy, so pinch them several times throughout the summer to increase branching. I’ll end this week with a thought from former President Harry Truman: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Have a great week.

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