Monday, February 22, 2016
Nutgrass – Nut Grass - Purple Nutsedge or Yellow Nutsedge Whatever you call it, the plant commonly known as Nutgrass or nut Grass, or water grass has become one of the most troublesome weeds of Eddy county gardens and lawns. It can be a problem in all parts of the garden and is very difficult weed to get rid of in lawns. Anyone who has had a close encounter with Nutgrass in their lawn will be aware that it has a few characteristics of certain other coarse grasses but it is not a true grass. Nutgrass is actually a member of the ‘Rush’ family – sedge. Instead of having a round stem it has a triangular stem. Sedges are often associated with damp boggy areas but this is not true with nutgrass. Nutgrass certainly need moisture, but is more prevalent in hot conditions, with full sunlight being its favorite growing conditions. These hot, warm days are ideal growing conditions such as we have been having in Eddy County lately are ideal for it to spread and grow. As with many other invasive weeds, Nutgrass spreads by way of underground stems (Rhizomes) and small tubers (Nuts). Yellow nutgrass has one tuber and purple has two or more. That is why purple is much harder to control. Unfortunately, some of the more effective methods of control or eradication are not always practicable for the average gardener - especially if the Nutgrass is in the lawns area. For instance repeated tillage in the summer – which seems to be an effective control –is not often an option, especially if the Nutgrass has invaded a lawn. Regular tillage, which brings the tubers to the surface – or near to – tends to dry out the tubers beyond their natural endurance. (Moisture loss is a quick way to death for Nutgrass tubers. Desiccation can lead to death after just 4 days! However, the tillage must take place every three weeks to be effective, so not generally an option for the gardener. The Nutgrass plant is also susceptible to shading, and shaded conditions, so anything that can be done to increase the competition for sunlight from surrounding plants can be beneficial. This would include having a healthy, strong growing lawn. Regular cropping of an area can have a beneficial effect for Nut grass, for as the crops are removed it then has full access to the available sunlight, moisture in the soil, and available nutrients. Here are a few tips for controlling Nutgrass: 1.) Hand pulling younger plants (plants juts sprouted from seed) may offer some control, but once the tubers and nutlets have formed in the ground, pulling becomes a waste of time. You get the top of the plant, but many of the tubers and nutlets remain in the soil, ready to re-grow. So if you want to physically remove the nutgrass, be sure to dig out the plant, foliage, tubers and all. If drainage is a problem (compacted poorly drained soils favor nutgrass growth), try to make necessary corrections to eliminate the problem. 2.) For control in the open landscape beds, Glyphosate (Roundup) is your best bet, as it will move down into the tubers and nutlets for complete control. But, it generally will take repeated applications before getting nutgrass totally under control. Spray it, kill it, if it regrows, treat it again, and again, until control is obtained. Remember that Glyphosate is non-selective and will kill what it is sprayed on. Use caution. I take a coffee can and cut out both ends and spay in side this limits the size of the dead area, and Bermuda will reestablish itself, while fescue will not. 3.) For the lawn, there’s a new product available that until recently, only licensed applicators could use. The Active Ingredient is Sulfentrazone and is marketed under a number of different trade names. These products do an excellent job stopping nutgrass in its tracks in the turf. Spot treat the areas infected with nutgrass, not the entire yard. After the nutgrass disappears, keep watch for any regrowth, which may require a second, possibly third application of ‘Manage’. 4.) VERY IMPORTANT FOR OPTIMUM CONTROL - Now here’s the secret for the best success using ‘Manage’ or ‘Roundup’ for nutgrass. Use ‘Spreader Sticker’, which helps these herbicides stick to the foliage of the nutgrass, giving you even better results. It’s a must for spraying chemicals to control nutgrass. Subscribe to Eddy County Ag news at: http://nmsueddyag.blogspot.com/ Eddy County Extension Service, New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator. All programs are available to everyone regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. New Mexico State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Eddy County Government Cooperating.