Get rid of goosegrass with a strong pre-emergent application plan this season.
Being prepared is a big part of dealing with goosegrass for Scott Jamros, branch manager at OneSource Landscape & Golf Services in The Villages, Fla., but so is keeping his plan versatile enough to handle outbreaks, he says.
“It’s still early in the year,” he says, “but if it’s like any of the past several years, we expect on certain properties to have a lot of goosegrass pressure. The one thing we’ve really tried to be more aggressive with is our pre-emergent program.”
Jamros’s team covers mostly golf courses and athletic fields like soccer pitches, and knows what to look out for when it comes to goosegrass. High traffic areas, where carts and footpaths have compacted the soil – the spots in front of goals on pitches are prime real estate for goosegrass to grow. In most cases, he’ll try to control the traffic to ease up on compaction by rerouting carts, moving goals or realigning the field. On home landscapes, he’ll watch along sidewalks and driveways. For the golf and athletic fields, he’ll aerify to relieve the pressure when he can.
But the majority of his attack strategy is in his pre-emergent plan.
“Right now we’re trying to do more to get ahead of the game,” he says. “The programs we’ve laid out this year have been site-specific, but we’ll start off with a base program and tailor it for the site. We’ll use pendimethalin in February, and then we’ll come back in about 30-45 days with our first application of prodiamine. And depending on the pressure we’ll custom fit the program to that site.”
For some of the properties, Jamros will even take a map of the area, and make a color-coded chart of what’s being applied where, so he can keep track of his chemistries and applications throughout the season.
Beyond that initial plan, Jamros spot treats where an outbreak flares up. He keeps quart pump sprayers with a metribuzin mix at some of the sites like the golf courses, so when goosegrass shows up outside his application schedule, it gets taken care of before it becomes a problem without needing to make a special trip for it.
“That way, as they drive or walk the property, we’ve got those little sprayers, and we just dot the crown of the goosegrass, and it’s worked out really well,” says Jamros.
Jamros keeps the client educated on the turf pressures, and uses his base plan as a starting point for talking about goosegrass.
“We’ll explain our program and how we’re going to attack the goosegrass,” says Jamros. “If that plan doesn’t work, then we need to change what we’re doing and try to alter the program to make it better. Mother Nature changes every year, and we just went through a winter that was pretty different from the few seasons before. So you’re always tweaking these programs and trying to figure out what’s the best way to take on the problem.”
Pairing the pre-emergence herbicide with aerification and other practices works best for handling goosegrass, since just having healthy turf with a solid canopy discourages the weed from germination, though. It springs up more often in stressed Bermudagrass with a lot of traffic than in the St. Augustine grass he has on other properties. Even with a full program and follow-up applications, though, sometimes his best weapon against goosegrass throughout the season is just pulling it out of the ground wherever it shows up.
“A big key is starting early in the season with pre-emerge and spot treatment, and these little one-quart canisters work really well if you stay on top of it,” says Jamros. “But I tell my guys if they pull one goosegrass plant per green per day and you’re doing that through the year, you’re not going to have as much pressure there.”