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As an Agriculture Extension Agent for Texas AgriLife Extension Service I have had an opportunity to be involved in just about every aspect of agriculture. From the 5,000 cow dairy to the types of trees to use in a home landscape I have had a chance to learn how the different parts of an agriculture systems work together. Seedless watermelons, drip irrigation, pecan orchard management, fruit crop development, dairy nutrient management, environmental issues confronting agriculture, producer tours, field days, research projects and more have been a part of my life for over 30 years as I lived and breathed agriculture. Since 2004 I have been actively involved in consulting internationally working in Honduras, Guatemala, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, India, and China. I have worked with missionaries and other groups dedicated to alleviating poverty among third world farmers. I lived in the Middle East in 2007-2008 working on a project for the Borlaug Institute of International Agriculture at Texas A&M University. In this project I was the Chief of Party and Team Leader for a $5.7 Million dollar effort to train Iraqi Extension agents and specialists in all aspects of agriculture.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fertilizing Your Lawn

I have received a number of calls about fall fertilizing lawns. As we have cooled off most homeowners are outside and they want to make sure they take care of their lawns. It has been a tough year for all landscape plants but turf has suffered more than its share. We have a lawn maintenance schedule on our website but basically you can fertilize your lawn now with a 2-0-1 ratio fertilizer at the rate of 1.0 lbs of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. I recommend that at least half of the nitrogen be in a slow release form so that we don’t get excessive growth too fast.
Now how much is 1 lb of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Well it all depends on the fertilizer you buy. If you buy a 20-0-10 (2-0-1 ratio) then you would use 5 pounds of fertilizer per 1,000 sq. ft. (5 X 20% N = 1.0 lbs of actual N). Most lawns are in the range of 5,000 sq. ft. so you only need 25 lbs of fertilizer to treat your lawn, so don’t overdo it!
I also am asked about weed and feed fertilizers. I don’t recommend them at all, especially this time of year. Weed and feed fertilizers contain a broadleaf weed killer with the fertilizer. This sounds really easy since you do two things at once. Unfortunately you don’t need to kill weeds now and weed control products can really do harm to trees and shrubs if you are not very careful. The weeds we have in lawns now are predominately asters and they are all flowering. This means that they are very mature and hard to kill. They should be treated earlier in the year, basically when you barely notice them. The weeds you have now will die with cold weather so just remember that next May you want to spray your yard to control the summer weeds you see now and forget the weed and feed in the fall.

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