Monday, March 30, 2015

Weed Control in Turf

In lawns and sports fields, weeds are often the result of poor quality turf, rather than the cause of poor turf.  The aggressive nature of weeds and their prolific reproductive capacity enable them to invade thin, weak turf areas.  Cultural practices should always be viewed as the first step to effective weed control.  Always determine why weeds established a foothold and correct those deficiencies.  If the basic problem is not corrected, weeds will continue to occur.  An effective weed-control program also requires identification of the undesirable species as to its classification as a grassy weed, a broad leaf weed, an annual, or a perennial.  Most turf weeds belong to two principal categories – grasses and broad leaf plants.  Chemical controls for these two categories of plants frequently differ. 
            Grassy weeds have jointed, hollow stems; leaf blades have veins parallel to leaf margins, and are several times longer than they are wide; roots are fibrous and multi-branching; and flowers are usually inconspicuous.  In contrast, broadleaved plants often have showy flowers; leaves have a network of veins at diverse angles to one another; stems are often pithy; and a taproot is usually present.  Another group of turf weeds, sedges, have grasslike characteristics, but require a different group of chemicals for control.  Sedges are characterized by three-sided stems (triangular cross-section) which bear leaves in three directions (in contrast to the two-ranked arrangement of grass leaves).
            Weeds can be further grouped according to their life span – annual or perennial.   From the standpoint of chemical control, the grouping is most important, because pre-emergent herbicides are only effective for control of annual weeds.  Annual weeds germinate from seed each year, mature in one growing season, and die in less than 12 months.  Crabgrass and henbit are examples of annual weeds – crabgrass being a summer annual and henbit being a winter annual.  Pre-emergent herbicides must be applied according to the expected date of emergence for each targeted species. 
            Perennial weeds live more than one year, and recover or regrow from dormant stolons, rhizomes, or tubers as well as from seed.  Control of perennial weeds requires a post-emergent herbicide during its season of active growth.  Products such as Portrait, Amaze and Dimension are available locally and need watering in order to activate.  
            Effective chemical weed control requires identification of the weeds as to their Classification (grass, broad leaf, sedge, etc.), life span (annual or perennial), and season of active growth (cool season or warm season).  Effective chemical control also requires accurate timing of applications, proper rate of application, and uniformity of application.  Always follow label directions for a product, and observe all warnings and precautions relative to safety of the application.  Herbicide labels should be carefully reviewed for additional details on specific uses of each product.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Making Fruits and Vegetables the Easy Choice!

In Texas, three out of four deaths are attributed to a chronic disease. However, studies show an intake of at least two and half cups of vegetables and fruits per day as part of a healthy eating pattern can reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases. March is National Nutrition Month, and an opportunity to discuss the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. We know a healthy eating pattern including fruits and vegetables can help to lower risks of developing chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Lifestyles are hectic; however, increasing fruit and vegetables can be easy. Here are a few tips from Danielle Hammond-Krueger, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Program Specialist for making fruits and vegetables the easy choice!

Choose to make half your plate fruits and vegetables.  The rest of your plate should be one-quarter grains and one-quarter protein foods with low-fat dairy on the side. MyPlate is a guide to making a healthy meal yet not every meal will look like MyPlate. For example a sandwich may not fit in each portion of the plate; however, making a sandwich with whole grain bread, lean protein, a slice of low-fat cheese, and adding lots of vegetables with a side of fruit make a healthy plate.

Choose a variety of colors.  The colors in fruit and vegetables are not just to make them look pretty.  Fruit and vegetable colors are complex and those colors pack a healthy punch in reducing the risk of developing various chronic diseases.  Be sure to vary the colors on your plate.
Choose whole fruits and vegetables over juice. Choosing whole fruits and vegetables provides fiber, less added sugar, vitamins, and minerals. Eating patterns high in these nutrients have shown to reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.

Choose to prep your snacks ahead of time. Busy schedules can sometimes mean reaching for unhealthy snacks. During the weekend, package small snack bags of bell peppers, carrots, strawberries, or your favorite fruit or vegetable for the week.  Place them in a spot you can see in the refrigerator. This may help to limit choosing less healthful and tempting snacks!

Choose to make fruits and vegetables exciting. Create a fruit and veggie contest. Making fruits and vegetables part of a child’s healthy eating pattern establishes positive behaviors early.  Children learn from watching you.   Try having a fruit and veggie contest once a week. It can be a simple game of name five blue fruits! The prize could be choosing the fruit for dessert tonight.

Choose fruit and vegetables to start the day. Fruits can be an easy choice at breakfast food. However, mix in some vegetables too.  Try adding spinach to your eggs, avocado to your toast, or tomatoes to a breakfast sandwich.

Choosing fruits and vegetables can be an easy task, if you plan and prepare healthy options in advance. Making small creative changes can benefit your overall health.  Overtime choosing more fruits and vegetables can help prevent chronic disease.

For more tips on improving your fruit and vegetable consumption, contact the Extension office at 627-3341.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Get Your Free Credit Report

It’s that time of year when I remind you to consider accessing your free credit report. The Federal Trade Commission recently released their study of the U.S. credit reporting industry and found that five percent of consumers had errors on one of their three major credit reports. Why does this matter?
According to Nancy L. Granovsky, Professor and Extension Family Economics Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service; these errors, if left uncorrected, can result in the affected consumers having to pay more for products like auto loans and insurance. Even worse, employment applications can be affected.
This is a first-of-its-kind study that provides research-based information regarding the problems that exist with credit reports. The results support the need for consumers to regularly check their credit reports for accuracy. Otherwise, loan products may end up costing more money if the wrong information about consumer finances and bill-paying history stays on the credit reports. The wrong credit report information can lower the overall credit score and result in higher interest rates for borrowers.
It is important to request a copy of your credit report each year from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). Stagger the requests – get one copy from one of the agencies now, then request a copy from one of the agencies four months from now,  and the final request to the last agency four months after that. Consumers are eligible to receive one free report from EACH of the three credit reporting agencies each year. Always go to the official government-sponsored website to request the free reports, not to the credit reporting companies individually. At the official site, you can designate which report you wish to order:
Dispute Errors on Credit Reports
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, both the credit reporting agency and the information provider (retailer, credit card issuer, etc.) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information. Consumers must communicate in writing.
For more information on writing a letter that communicates the errors found in the credit report, contact the Extension office at 940/627-3341.