Patience … cool-season herbicide time is coming

I want so badly to tell you it’s time to use cool-season herbicides, but we aren’t quite there yet.

I’m referring to products like Ferti-lome’s Weed Free Zone and Bonide’s Weed Beater Ultra, but our current temperatures just aren’t right for these awesome herbicides that will help reduce the infestation of things like Virginia buttonweed and doveweed. We really need our high temperatures to consistently be 80 degrees or less, and our low temperatures to regularly drop into the 40-60 range.

Years ago, before the advent of these great herbicides, broadleaf weed control from November through February was pretty much non-existent. Herbicides normally used for broadleaf weed control in the spring and summer can actually kill St. Augustine and Bermuda lawns if they’re used at the wrong times.

But then, along came these Ferti-lome and Bonide products, and the art of weed control in the cooler months was perfected.

Still, however, there are some caveats to respect for these herbicides. First, we need actual autumn weather to come our way. These carfentazone-based herbicides work best between 45 and 75 degrees. When high temperatures are still in the 80s and above, you simply cannot use cool-season herbicides – they can burn up the grass. And they won’t work when it’s too cold, either.

Also, you must understand the importance of using surfactants in the Gulf Coast area. Because most of our water is so hard, we have to help the herbicides actually stick to the weeds we want to kill. Otherwise, they’ll just bead up and roll right off the leaf surface into the soil.

The mechanics of how the insecticide is applied is also important. You should use either a pump-up sprayer or a hand-held trigger sprayer, since spot-treating is best with these controls. They’re sold mostly in concentrate, so either method should be quite easy. I recommend avoiding dial-and-spray or ready-to-spray bottles that hook up to a hose, because you can’t be as precise with them. Using these products on the entire yard can cause the grass to yellow.

If a concentrate in a ready-to-spray formula for the end of a hose is the only version you can find, use it with extreme caution – strive for spot treatments. That means you’ll need to be quick on the switch with the on/off lever.

Finally, remember these herbicides are specifically for broadleaf weeds. If you have things like clover, you can spot treat with these carfentazone-based herbicides. But they will not control nutsedge (nutgrass) or grassy weeds of any kind.


IMAGES: Product manufacturers