Dandelion Control for Agricultural and Residential Applications — Fall is Best
Massive fields of yellow can be seen in farm fields, residential lawns, and many other areas thanks to the dandelion. The April 23, 2009 BYGL had a great article on dandelion control. The kneejerk reaction is to spray those dandelions now with herbicides, but control of dandelion this time of year is difficult whether dandelion is in an agricultural field or a residential lawn. Below are the dandelion control tips from BYGL:
Dandelions are more effectively controlled in the spring when they are in puffball stage. But remember, the best time to control dandelions is fall. However, areas with massive populations of dandelions need to be tackled now to reduce the amount of seeds produced, and to reduce the competition of the dandelions with the turfgrass. This action requires a second application of broadleaf herbicides later in the spring/early summer, if other weeds are present.
Herbicides containing 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba are most effective for control of dandelions and other broadleaf weeds in turf and crops. If you only have a few dandelions in your lawn, consider spot-applying a herbicide with a spray bottle rather than treating the whole lawn. Pay close attention to the herbicide label and use the correct herbicide rate: more is not better. Also, be sure to pay attention to the weather as to avoid applying a herbicide immediately before a rain event.
In addition to, or in place of, herbicides there are some things that can be done to prevent or reduce dandelion competition on your lawn. First, mow at three inches and mow frequently so as not removing more than 1/3 of the leaf during one mowing. Also, a dense lawn is less prone to weeds so plan on fertilizing your lawn. In the Midwest, a general recommendation is two pounds of nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. of lawn per year. The application of fertilizer should be split with one application in early-September and one application near the last mowing.
In summary, the best time to control dandelion is during the fall, regardless of whether the situation is in a lawn or in a crop field. For turf, if dandelions are numerous to the point of choking grass then plan on two applications (one now and one in late-May) of broadleaf herbicides for control.
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