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Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Fall arrived Saturday and virtually came unnoticed, as the weather conditions remained the same.  The tropical depression did not develop into a tropical storm nor did it pass through here, we did not get any rain this weekend.

While most of the county desperately needs a rain, the row crop farms are taking full advantage of the dry weather to get their crops out.  Lawns, pastures and gardens continue to dry up. 

The corn harvest is almost complete as is early soybeans.  Cotton harvest is getting under way. Yield ranges anywhere from four to excellent.  All and all with the kind of weather conditions we faced this year, the crop yields are better than they could have been.

Cattle prices continue to remain good as I sold a few calves this past weekend and was well satisfied with the prices. This has been a very interesting year for agriculture.

Just a reminder, if you plan to order MSU cheese this year for Christmas, it is time to place your orders. The cheese order program is not a fundraiser or even a promotion of Mississippi State University. This is a public service project where we try and save shipping charges for all the people from Yalobusha County who order MSU cheese. The shipping charges are high, so if you plan to order and have us pick it up, please call our office at 675-2730.

Fall Fertilization for Warm-Season Turf Species

I receive several homeowner calls about this time every year asking if it is too late to fertilize their lawn.  My response is usually another question about the health of their lawn and what have been the fertilizer practices so far during the year.

A strong healthy lawn probably can do just fine without fall fertilization but a weak stressed lawn can still benefit from a boost in nutrients.  The first official day of fall has just occurred (Sept. 23rd.) so we still have several weeks of growing conditions left for most of the state.

Late-season or “winterizing fertilizer” applications to warm-season turf grasses in Mississippi is a controversial management practice that stems from the concerns for potential winterkill, disease promotion, and the effect on total nonstructural carbohydrates.

For high maintenance turf grasses such as Bermuda grass, nitrogen and potassium are nutrients that are required in fairly large amounts during the growing season to provide good growth and quality.

Late-fall applications of potassium are a standard recommendation and practice as potassium promotes winter hardiness and disease resistance in turf.  Although some research has indicated that late-fall nitrogen fertilization increased vulnerability to winterkill and promotion of diseases other studies have shown no direct correlation to winterkill but instead prolongs fall color and earlier recovery in the spring.

Research trials conducted at Mississippi State designed to simulate worst-case scenario in which Bermuda grass would have an increased likelihood of winterkill by applying highly water soluble nitrogen sources alone or in combination with potassium actually improved fall and spring color ratings with no indication of increasing winterkill potential or affecting total nonstructural carbohydrates.  Regardless of time of year, lush turf growth stimulated by excessive nitrogen may be more susceptible to certain diseases and insects so be prepared to treat accordingly with appropriate fungicides and/or insecticides.

Considering the poor growing season many lawns have endured this summer a fall application of a winterizing fertilizer formulated to contain lower ratios of nitrogen to potassium, and particularly with nitrogen sources that are released slowly may be just what your lawn needs.

Always base your fertilization program on soil test analysis, turf use requirements, and grower expectations.  Time the application of winterizing fertilizer in the fall when temperatures begin to moderate and days begin to shorten, but before the turf goes dormant. 

And, if all else fails, you can always pave it over with concrete and paint it green. Or visit our helpful Mississippi State University website.

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