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Tips for aquatic plant management

John Grimes-
Last weekend, most farmers got their wish as nearly all of Highland County received a much welcomed measurable rain. That seems like a very odd statement to make at this time of year when typically farmers are asking for dry conditions in a “normal” April.
Aquatic plant management
    The following are tips for pond owners to keep in mind when managing aquatic vegetation in their ponds.
    • Walk around your pond every two weeks and note vegetation abundances. It is better to take corrective action earlier rather than later.
    • Pond dyes must go in early, no later than April 15. Supplemental additions may be needed to maintain the desired color. Buy an extra gallon and keep it on hand. It can be difficult to find pond dyes after early summer.
    • If white amur (grass carp) are being used, an additional stocking of 2-3 per acre should occur every other year to maintain a variety of sizes and replace those that died.
    • Speaking of grass carp, they have plant preferences. Before stocking them, be sure they will eat the plants causing you problems.
    • Algae control is an ongoing activity until October. Consider keeping a supply of your preferred algaecide on hand to allow you to spot treat as needed.  
    • Safety first when using herbicides and algaecides. Read the label completely. They can all be found on the Internet. Personal protection is a must and children should never be nearby when making an application.
    • Assess submerged plant abundance in mid-May with a garden rake dragged along the bottom in 3-4 feet of water. If plants are abundant, consider treating then rather than later when risk of a fish kill is greater.
    • Cattails should be treated when the seed head is still green.
    • Be careful  with water lilies.  They quickly spread. Control with a glyphosate product  near the end of their flowering period.
    • Largemouth bass and bluegills did not evolve in bathtubs! Small amounts of native, submerged plants can enhance the fish community. Once abundances exceed 20%, problems with the fish community will appear due to too many hiding places for small bluegills.  
    • Watershed management is also important to the health of a pond or small lake. Many of the aquatic plant problems pond owners deal worth have their origins in the watershed due to inputs of unwanted, excessive nutrients.
  Turn off that nutrient spigot and the water body will improve.
 – Source: Ohio Pond News.
Nitrogen fertilization
    For some, this may be a little late but the question still remains what is the best way and time to fertilize pastures and hay fields. Many opt for spring fertilization but even once you decide when you are fertilizing how do you decide how much you should fertilize? Maybe you will base your fertilization rate on a soil test, a shot in the dark, or simply nitrogen fertilization but the question still remains what is the best method? Well, obviously, soil tests are the only real way to tell what you are working with so test even those pastures and hay fields to make sure you are getting the most out of them. Remember, no amount of nitrogen can make up for other nutrients that may be limited. Even with a soil test, however, there are still some decisions to be made on what you should do with your nitrogen fertilizer.
    First off, take a hard look at your pasture or hay field and see if there is any legume component in the field. If there is a significant amount of legumes (20-30 percent uniformly throughout the field) you probably don’t want to fertilize with N. Legumes will produce nitrogen for your grasses and an addition of nitrogen fertilizer will favor the grasses and may lead to a decline in legumes in the pasture.
    If you have grass fields that do not contain legumes you should think about the timing of your nitrogen fertilization.
    For grass hay it is typical to fertilize in the spring to obtain the highest yield possible.
    This practice has also been widely accepted when dealing with pastures; however, you may want to look at your individual system prior to this action.
    If you already have a low enough stocking rate that it makes it hard to keep up with the spring flush of grasses, you may want to hold off on the spring nitrogen as this will only add fuel to the fire.
    Once these options have been taken into account, you still should think about whether you have the ability to split your application of nitrogen for greater efficiency.
    For instance, the nitrogen recommendation for an orchardgrass stand that has an expected yield of 4 tons per acre is 200 lb/ac. If this is applied all at once that nitrogen has to stay in the field until all cuttings have been removed.
    A quick look at the nitrogen cycle will reveal that nitrogen escapes our systems very easily so it may not stay as long as we desire. One way we can manage this is to actually split the application based on how many cuttings we expect to take and it is even better if we can adjust the rate for the expected yield of the next harvest.
    For the same field we may decide we want to apply 100 lbs. in the spring and 100 lbs. after the first or maybe better yet the second cutting instead of the all 200 lbs. in the spring. Since cool season grasses are not very productive in the heat of the summer, a lower rate of N is all that is needed.
    One last thought should be given to the type of nitrogen fertilizer used. Urea (46-0-0) is the most commonly used nitrogen fertilizer for pastures; however it can have large losses due to a process called volatilization, especially in the heat of the summer. If urea is used try to apply it right before rain for maximum efficiency. Do not apply urea right after a rain because the losses will be greatest then.
Strawberry workshop
    As Ohio consumers turn to fresh, locally grown fruits, like strawberries, more farmers are interested in learning what it takes to meet growing demand.
    Ohio State University South Centers at Piketon will be offering a Strawberry Production workshop, May 20 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. to provide the latest in production management techniques. Registration is $5 per person.
    Ohio State University Extension educator Brad Bergefurd will compare various production methods such as high tunnel, plasticulture and matted row, and how these methods can help to extend the growing season. Attendees will also learn disease and insect management practices, drip irrigation solutions, and the importance of pollination.
    The workshop is designed not only for the backyard fruit grower, but also the commercial grower. For information, contact Julie Strawser-Moose at (740) 289-2071, ext. 223, or e-mail
    John Grimes is the Ohio State University Extension Educator for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Highland County.[[In-content Ad]]

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