Aprils Ag Advice

Aprils Ag Advice by April Borders Our lawns and trees last year had quite the challenge to deal with. They experienced stress earlier than normal, mainly due to drought conditions. Now we must face the potential for loss this year.

As we enter the new growing season, we should take some special steps to minimize the effects of drought on trees, shrubs and lawns. Depending on the severity of the water deficit, drought will manifest itself differently in different plants.

For trees, some foliage will droop and appear wilted, some exhibit leaf yellowing and defoliation. As the trees try to leaf out this year, leafing might be spotty and uneven. On our evergreens we might see excessive needle drop or total browning of needles.

Sometimes we won't see symptoms until the following year. Many people may mistake some of these symptoms as death in plants; regrettably, many plants may be unnecessarily removed.

Many people also believe that if your lawn received enough water to keep it green, then your trees are okay. Often trees and shrubs, especially during drought periods, are receiving very little of the water from lawn sprinklers. Sometimes people have mistaken drought symptoms of trees for diseases or other maladies in landscapes where the lawns look beautiful.

Established trees and shrubs will generally survive long periods of drought without too many problems, but they may become more susceptible to secondary problems like insects such as borers.

Now what about our lawns? Most lawns will survive the drought but turn brown when not watered. They do, however, need to have a minimum amount of moisture to keep the crowns alive. Hopefully you saw some relief with fall moisture. This spring, you might see weakened parts of the lawn or areas in hot spots that did die. You might also see damage caused by unfavorable cultural practices.

Whatever the case, many lawns will need help to restore them to their prior quality. This spring you'll need to evaluate the extent of damage. Then determine the real cause of your lawn's failure. Was it Mother Nature, cultural practices or a combination? Then decide on a restoration plan and implement it.

To help your trees and lawn start on the road to recovery, we will be holding a tree and lawn-troubleshooting clinic on March 13. Dr. John Ball, SDSU Extension forestry specialist, and Dr. Marty Draper, SDSU Extension plant pathologist, will be discussing lawn and tree management as it relates to weather stresses.

The clinic is free and open to the public. The program will be held in two locations. The first program will be held at Papa's Pizza in Freeman beginning at 1:30 p.m. Then at 6:30 p.m., the same program will be offered at the Clay County Extension Office. For more information about this program please call the Extension Office at 677-7111.

Other upcoming programs:

* March 11 � Shelterbelt Design and Management � Beresford at 1:30 p.m. and Yankton at 6:30 p.m.

* March 13 � Lawn and Tree Troubleshooting Clinic � Freeman at 1:30 p.m. and Vermillion at 6:30 p.m.

* March 17 � Orchardgrass-Timothy Production Clinic � Vermillion at 10 a.m.


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