Change is in the air. The fall season brings with it shorter days, less rain and whole new set of challenges’ and opportunities for the Lawn & Landscape technician. Preventive pest control is the key at this time of the year.
Many pest infestations exist thru the summer rainy season without being noticed. The University of Florida states that a chinch bug population has to reach 20 to 25 chinch bugs per square foot to do any damage to a St. Augustine lawn. It has been my experience that this is true as long as the turf is actively growing with proper amounts of water, sunlight and nutrition. However when the rain stops it’s a different story. The calibration and operation of sprinkler systems is critical from September thru to the rainy season in June. Prevention is the key – We recommend calibrating sprinkler systems twice a year. Once the proper quantity of water is established (Calibration) it becomes a matter of adding or deleting the days that the sprinkler system runs.
There are no lawns in the forest!!! Lack of sunlight can cause many problems. As the days grow shorter in fall (less sunlight hours) shade can also become a major problem for turf and some plants. Now is the time to maybe thin or raise the canopy of trees if possible in those shady areas so that sunlight and air can get to the turf and shrubs below.
Proper fertilization with slow release or organic fertilizer can help prevent many problems with pests, disease and cold. Tender new growth caused by over fertilizing or using a quick release fertilizer may look good to you, but it also looks good to the bugs and is also more likely to be damaged by cold. Healthier turf & shrubs will withstand attacks from insects & disease much better than stressed turf & shrubs. Timing is also important. Fertilizing too late in the fall could cause more problems than it is worth. We use only slow release and organic fertilizers, specially formulated or Bon Voyage Pest Control, Inc..
Chinch bugs are both one of the most misdiagnosed (40%) insect infestations in Florida turf and the easiest insects to identify. Chinch bug damage can be confused with certain lawn diseases. Brown patch symptoms, however, usually occur in a circular or semi-circular pattern, as opposed to the irregular-shaped areas of dead and dying grass that result from chinch bug feeding. Chinch bug damage also can be difficult to distinguish from that caused by drought or improper quantities of water.