April's Ag Advice by April Borders Well, we are off to a great spring so far. The weather has been a little cooler than normal but it won't be long until we are in the heat of summer so I guess that we should be thankful for what we get. The farmers are hard at it too as they get their fields prepared and ready for planting and some daredevils have even started the planting process. Soon we will be in full swing.
As the days get warmer and warmer we are starting to see those pesky mosquitoes out and flying. The females are hungry after a long winter and are ready to feed and start laying eggs. In fact the first possible West Nile case has been reported in Ohio. As you start spending more time outside, especially in the evening, make sure that you take some precautions. Wear long sleeved shirts and pants and remember to apply some kind of insect repellent. Products containing DEET are the best to use as they will provide several hours of protection. This is the best way to protect yourself and reduce your risk of getting West Nile Virus.
The maximum concentration of DEET currently recommended for infants (greater than two months of age) and children is 30 percent. The concentration of DEET in products may range from less than 10 percent to over 30 percent. One should select the lowest concentration effective for the amount of time spent outdoors.
It is generally recommended that DEET should not be applied more than once a day. For most children going outdoors, the once a day application of DEET will be most appropriate at dusk, one of the two times per day mosquitoes are most active, the other time being dawn. Remember: do not apply DEET or any insect repellent to hands or near eyes and mouth of young children. Also, do not allow young children to apply insect repellents.
With warmer temperatures our soil temperatures also start to increase. With this being the case it is time to start watching the lilacs. When it is about time for the lilacs to begin to bloom, it is time to apply your pre-emergence crabgrass herbicides. Many of the crabgrass killers are found in lawn weed and feed products. If you apply the herbicide too soon in the season, it won't be as effective in late May and June and you could find crabgrass emerging later. So be patient and wait for those lilacs.
Another thing that we should be considering is giving our pastures a kick start for the year. A proper dose of fertilizer paired with an effective weed control program can get your pastures off to a fast start this spring. With the majority of the grasses growth occurring in mid to late spring, cool season grasses can benefit from a spring nitrogen application.
Applying nitrogen just prior to rapid grass growth will help ensure nutrient availability when the plants need them. Cool spring temperatures will help keep nitrogen evaporation low, so more nutrients go to grass production. Not only does spring nitrogen application improve grass yield but it also improves protein content and vigor, resulting in thick healthy stands.
If pastures are overgrazed, weeds will move right in and take over. Invasive plant species alter the grass species mix and reduce production of palatable forages. Undesirable plants reduce the quality of animal products and still others may be poisonous to livestock. Herbicides are an aid to recommended grazing or haying practices.
While either nitrogen or weed control alone can increase grass production, combining the two offers great season-long results and higher forage yields than either one alone. Consider taking a little time and money and putting it towards your pasture and get them back up to good production levels.
Just a reminder of an upcoming event, the Clay County Master Gardeners will be holding their annual plant sale on May 1 at the 4-H Center. The sale will start at 9 a.m. and will be held in conjunction with the Garden Clubs plant sale. The Master Gardeners will be holding their sale inside the 4-H Center this year. So stop on by and get yourself stocked up on plants for the summer.
For more information on any of these topics, contact the Clay County Extension Office at 677-7111.