It is now March, but the official start of spring is still a few days away. If you have been outside, it seems like spring is here. If you haven’t noticed the greening up of plants and forages, take a look. I am amazed how much the grass has grown. Recently, I noticed some grass already six inches tall in a pasture field. Lawns are even looking green and weeds are starting to grow. Around the home, many things are trying to bloom such as the Daffodils. I even noticed that the Turkey Vultures (buzzards) are back.
What will be the results if we have cold weather again? It is not only how far along the plants are but the location and how cold it will get. Usually if we have a cold snap for plants that are growing early, it will not kill them – it may keep them from blooming. How early are things this year? From what I am seeing, I would estimate that we are two to three weeks ahead of average.
With the early spring growth, it is time to determine if you will need to control any problem plants. Now is a perfect time to control Poison Hemlock. It is the plant that is very green and looks like overgrown parsley along the side of the roads. It is a biennial plant that started growing last fall and will set seeds and die in early summer. We typically notice how bad this plant is in April, but by then, it may be too late to control, and the plant may have developed viable seeds. Control initiated now is very effective and will prevent the plant from making seeds. A word of caution – Poison Hemlock is toxic and can be a skin and respiratory irritant, so physical control can be dangerous. Make sure plant material does not come in contact with you, especially with a weed eater. Even pulling the plant is difficult as it can have a ten-inch taproot.
Now that it is March, we also need to be on the lookout for termites. They will “swarm” as a new queen and her workers are looking for a location to set up shop. So now through April is a good time to watch for potential infestations. Look for groups of winged adults flying around, ¼ to ½ inch tubes of mud from the foundation up the side of walls and the swarming insects. The first thing to do is not panic. They work very slowly. Check to see if they are termites as they are often confused with carpenter ants (they can cause problems too but are easier to treat). Termites have two pairs of wings that are equal in length and fall off easily. Also the abdomen and thorax are continuous (a carpenter ant has three distinct segments: head, abdomen, thorax and the pairs of wings are not equal in length). As a rule, I recommend a professional pest control operator for termites as many try to treat, and then end up calling a professional, due to the difficulty of eliminating the colony. If you have questions, or want an insect identified, call or stop by the Extension office.
Finally, if I can talk about something more “fun”, we can start seeding microgreens, chives, and plant onion sets. It will only be a week or two until we can plant peas, radishes, spinach and leeks. Planting season is here!
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Trevor Corboy is the OSU Extension Brown County Agriculture & Natural Resources & Community Development Extension Educator.