Be Prepared in 2016

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by Rick Brandenburg, Turf Entomologist

There has been a lot of discussion this winter and spring regarding the extremely warm temperatures of December and March and the impact this will have on turf management. The warm temperatures of December and March are remarkable not only for the unusually high temperatures, but also the duration of these “warm” spells.

At the time of this writing (March 15) a lot of activities, both plant and pest, appear to be 3 or more weeks ahead of normal. There is reason to take note of this and to start making plans to monitor and possibly take certain actions earlier than normal. The forecast calls for a return to more normal conditions, but that doesn’t mean the 3-week push ahead of normal will go backwards. If temperatures return to normal, we will still be 3 weeks ahead. We will get back to more normal timing only if we have some extended periods of below normal temperatures.

This is not intended to be a gloom and doom prophecy, but rather a heads up for possible early activity. We know that mole crickets, for example, are active earlier than normal and in the Wilmington, NC area this could equate to mid-May egg hatches rather than the first week of June.

The key to avoid being caught off guard is to continue to monitor the weather and if it stays normal or above for the next few weeks, then we are going to see pest problems earlier. Rather than waiting until late May to check for mole cricket egg hatch with a soapy water flush, you may need to be out there early in May to ensure you apply your treatments in a timely manner.
Given the unusually warm December and March and a couple of months of a cool winter, we need to be alert for changes in the timing of pest occurrence. I will do my best to keep you posted of any unusually early activity we observe in April and May.