Time Here for Pre-emergent North Texas

Remember that map of the average date of the last killing freeze for each area of Texas? We ran it here several weeks back. Here’s a link if you missed it.

Timing for application of pre-emergent granules should be 2-3 weeks prior to that average date. Look on the map. Figure your date and do your own math. You’ll see that for much of the middle (east to west) of the state, that time starts about now.

Two of Texans’ most hated weeds. Grassburs on left and crabgrass on right. Both can be prevented by application of pre-emergent weedkiller granules.

Yes, I know that the time has already passed for Deep South Texas, as evidenced by our subscriber who sent the photo of grassburs already germinated in his fields near Corpus Christi. And that was almost one month ago. Luckily, we’ve been talking about it over that period.

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And for the Panhandle the time won’t come for a couple more weeks. No problem there. But for that big band that includes the I-20 corridor, you’re there now. We’re talking about a big percentage of Texas.

Crabgrass seedheads have characteristic helicopter rotor appearance. Plants are medium-green with short, sprawling runners.

Choices in pre-emergents…
There are several products available to consumers, but to give you three common names: Dimension, Halts and Balan.

I prefer to recommend granules, and I suggest using them alone, not as parts of a weed-and-feed combination. My reasoning: when it’s time for pre-emergents, it’s still too cold for fertilizing. When it’s finally time for fertilizing, it’s way too late for application of pre-emergents.

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If you’re planning on scalping your lawn, do that first. Remove the clippings and put them into the compost pile. (Don’t send them to the landfill. They’re filling up too fast anyway. They don’t want them.) Then, apply your pre-emergent granules and water the lawn moderately to dissolve the herbicide and spread it across the surface of the soil.

It’s that layer of pre-emergent herbicide that stops the germination and growth of weed seedlings. While those three pre-emergent products are safe for use around trees and shrubs, you should not use them on areas where you intend to plant new sod or seed within the next several months.

Looking at a grassbur (a.k.a. “sandbur”) close up and personal brings back many painful memories of childhood.

Important tip to the wise gardener…
Pre-emergent products are effective for about 100 days, so plan on a second “booster” application three months after this first treatment.

You’ll also see me writing and hear me talking about an early September application to prevent winter weeds (the ones you’re seeing now) as well. Those are cool-season weeds, and you must act to prevent their germination in early fall.

It may be difficult to find pre-emergent granules in late May/early June and again in late August/early September. It’s a good plan to stock up now so you’ll be ready for the second and third treatments when the times arrive. Store them dry and they’ll be fine.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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