Around Home and Farm

Last updated: March 18. 2014 11:54PM - 733 Views
By Jerry Mahan

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We are coming up on the time when homeowners normally apply crabgrass control products to the lawn. Each year is different in terms of soil temperature at the end of March and first week or two in April. We normally look at applying pre-emergent crabgrass control products around April 10 but soil temperature dictates when this plant seed will germinate. In 2012 we had an unusually warm spring and April 10 was too late as the crabgrass seed had already germinated. The germination of crabgrass which is an annual is tied to soil temperature.

Crabgrass seed will germinate when we have the nighttime soil temperature not dropping below 52-54 degrees F. for 5 evenings in a row. You can track soil temperatures at this Michigan State Univ. website: www.gddtracker.net/. Use this website to tracks the amount of warmth the soil has accumulated in growing degree days using 50 degrees F. as the base temperature. This website also tracks growing degree days using other temperatures as a base so watch which you refer to.

For more information on the germination of crabgrass log on to: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/4000/4002.html for the factsheet titled “Annual Grass Weed Control in Home Lawns”. Another way to determine when to apply pre-emergent crabgrass control is to tie it to the blooming of forsythia or ornamental pear trees. In 2013 I also saw pre-emergent crabgrass control product on the market which did not contain fertilizer.

If you have a lawn in a high fertility area which may not need as much fertilizer this may be something to try. Sadly, the more fertilizer you apply this time of year the more often you have to mow as most of the nutrients go to the growth of the grass leaf blades and not into the root system.

Applying pre-emergent crabgrass material earlier than April 10th depending on soil temperatures may shorten the time the product is effective and permit crabgrass to germinate later in the season depending on the product you are using.


Applying mulch to the landscape now will keep the soil colder later into the spring and slow down development of plants. Keep the mulch depth to 2-3 inches max when you do apply which is usually best done in May after the soil has warmed up. Avoid at all cost the “volcano” mulch syndrome where mulch is applied at the 5-6 inch depth.

This will not only slow plant growth this time of year but will help create a waterproof barrier to the plant later in the growing season by not allowing water to percolate through the soil. In raised bed plantings it will also contribute to plant roots developing in the mulch layer as opposed to the soil.

Agriculture Hall of Fame

Applications are being accepted through July 31 for nominating someone for the Greene Co. Agriculture Hall of Fame which is sponsored by the Greene Co. Farm Bureau. Applications can be found on the Greene Co. Farm Bureau website: http://ofbf.org/counties/greene/ or the Greene Co. Ext. website at http://greene.osu.edu under the Agriculture & Natural Resources section. Do not wait to start the process. Get an application now and start to make some notes.

Deadline for Ag scholarships

Greene Co. Farm Forum is offering up to four $1000 scholarships to deserving current year graduating students or college freshmen pursuing higher education in a field related to agriculture. Copies are available from the Greene Co. Ext. Office at 100 Fairground Road, Xenia and they can be downloaded from the agriculture section of the Greene Co. Ext. website at: http://greene.osu.edu in the “Agriculture and Natural Resources” section. Deadline for applications is April 24, 2014.

Greene Co. Farm Bureau is offering $500 scholarships to deserving graduating seniors planning to pursue an agriculture education. College students who are continuing their education may apply for the Cecil Huston Farm Bureau $500 Scholarship up to a maximum of 4 years.

Applicant must be attending /or be a graduate of a Greene County high school and preference will be given to students whose parents or grandparents are Farm Bureau members. Application deadline is April 15 and applications can be downloaded from http://ofbf.org/counties/greene/ or contact the Farm Bureau office at 1-800-443-6830. Their address is Greene Co. Farm Bureau, P.O. Box 906, Wilmington, Ohio 45177.

Greene County MGs will award one $1,000 non-renewable scholarship to a deserving current year graduating student and resident of Greene County pursuing higher education within Ohio at an accredited technical school or 2-4 year college/university program in a field related to horticulture, turf management, landscape design or technology, soil science, entomology-pest management, botany-plant pathology, or forest management.

More information can be found at: http://greene.osu.edu under the “Master Gardener Volunteer Program” section. Deadline for applications is April 4, 2014.

Farm cash rent

I have talked with many farmers in the past few weeks and the situation dealing with cash rents is more challenging than ever. With the downturn in crop prices especially corn the margin of profit is slimmer than ever with many farmers. Cash rents had gone up significantly the past 3-4 years as higher prices for corn, soybeans and wheat led the way. Interest rates were low as well as were several crop inputs.

In these changing times I urge both sides to sit down and work out an agreement fair to both sides. We should not be going by the coffee shop talk as to what your neighbor received for cash rent but look at what the proposed budgets are showing is possible for expenses and returns for 2014.

The OSU EXT. budgets can be found at: http://aede.osu.edu/programs/farmmanagement/budgets. You will need to have the Excel program on your computer to access these files. A nice aspect of these files is you can input your own costs and returns into the budgets for corn, soybeans and wheat to figure your own break even points.

Long term one must look at the line titled “Return to Land” as the cash rent potential figures. From talking with several farmers I must point out the land charges shown in the budgets are the responses given to Barry Ward O.S.U. EXT. Ag.Economist early in in 2013. That will be updated soon as he is gathering cash rent data for 2014. Cash rent is expected to be flat or with a very small increase in Ohio and the Midwest.

I recently attended a cash rent workshop sponsored by OSU Extension and several points were emphasized. Try to get your cash rent agreements in writing and recorded at the county Recorder’s Office (phone 937-562-5270). It will cost about $30 and there are formats you must abide by. Go to: www.co.greene.oh.us/index.aspx?nid=473 for details. Most farmers or land owners file a Memorandum of Lease which includes the names of those involved, legal description of the land, lease period and rights of renewal. It need not include actual cash rent figures or other personal information. This recording will protect both parties in case of the death of one party or sale of the land.

Copies of a blank cash rental agreement can be found at: http://aglease101.org.

Jerry Mahan is a retired OSU Extension Educator Agriculture and Natural Resources for Greene County. He can be reached by email at mahan.2@att.net.

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