Rob Leeds: April may be warmer, drier than usual


Rob Leeds - OSU Extension



The time changes early Sunday, which means more daylight in the evening. Just the thought of consistent warm weather and the start of planting season brings a smile to my face!

Even though we’ve had a “mild” winter, I’m looking forward to leaving the cold weather behind and am ready for the ground to start drying out. It is shaping up to be an earlier than normal planting season.

According to the National Weather Service, this month will be much warmer than normal, thanks to El Nino. Temperatures will average 5 degrees above normal for much of the month. Rainfall averages 3-4 inches normally for March.

April is shaping up to be warmer and drier than normal. Four-inch soil temps should run above normal and stay around 50 a few weeks earlier than normal this spring.

However, if the warmer weather causes things to start growing earlier, there’s always a risk of a normal last hard freeze which could cause problems.

The micro-brewing industry has exploded in Ohio, creating a demand for locally grown hops. If you have ever wondered about growing hops, here is your chance to learn. On April 7 at North High Brewing in Columbus, participants will learn about the startup expenses, variety selection and pest control. The workshop will be taught by Brad Bergefurd, extension horticulture specialist, and a tour of the brewery will be given by brewmaster Jason McKibben. An optional hops yard tour will follow at Grandpops Hops in Marysville.

The workshop is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at North High Brewing, 1288 N. High St. Columbus, with Grandpops Hops tour to follow at 3 p.m. at 24820 Claibourne Road, Marysville. The workshop is $25 to attend and requires registration. Morning snacks are included with registration. Space is limited. Please register by March 25. To register, contact OSU Extension Delaware County at 740-833-2030 or kaelber.1@osu.edu.

Palmer amaranth has to date been found in about 11 Ohio counties. As of yet, it has not entered Delaware County. Infestations can range from one or more fields or other areas with just a few plants or patches of plants, to the presence of one or more fields with dense populations. There isn’t any real pattern to the distribution of counties where Palmer has been found.

The first, and often critical, step to managing Palmer amaranth (or any weed) is to scout and identify the species that exist in each agronomic field. It is easy to misidentify Palmer amaranth because it looks similar to three other common amaranth species: redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus), smooth pigweed (Amaranthus hybridus) and common waterhemp (Amaranthus rudis). The resemblance is especially strong during the seedling stages of growth.

According to Mark Loux, OSU Extension Specialist, Hort and Crop Sciences, Palmer exhibits aggressive growth and competitiveness with crops. Under ideal conditions, Palmer amaranth plants can grow 2 or 3 inches per day. Within two months, Palmer amaranth plants that emerged on May 29, 2013, were more than 6 feet tall at the Purdue Palmer amaranth research site. When allowed to compete throughout the growing season, Palmer amaranth can create yield losses up to 91 percent in corn and up to 79 percent in soybean.

Palmer seed has entered the state via contaminated CREP or wildlife seed that comes from farther west, and via the cotton feed products that are shipped from the south and used in animal operations. Loux says that the latter has been the source of our most recent and most severe infestations that occurred in 2015 in northeastern Ohio. While some animal operations are aware of this problem and have stopped using these types of feed products, it’s likely that many other operations or feed dealers have not received information about this issue or modified their practices. The current Palmer amaranth situation is summarized in a brief video and presentation that can be found on the OSU weed science website – http://u.osu.edu/osuweeds. We have also posted several fact sheets there that summarize the Palmer problem and current distribution, and provide tools for pigweed identification.

OSU has developed several digital books that are available for multiple platforms, via iTunes or GooglePlay. Descriptions and links follow. All are currently less than $10. The links can also be found under the “Weed ID” tab on our website – u.osu.edu/osuweeds/.

This identification guide provides information on the basics of weed identification presented in a considerably updated fashion. It describes 29 families and 83 species of monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plants. Plant descriptions include key identification characteristics, pictures of the various species at different stages of maturity, and 360-degree videos for most species. This book includes a number of the most common Midwestern U.S. weeds and basic intellectual tools that are necessary to successfully identify plants.

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Rob Leeds

OSU Extension

Rob Leeds is the Ohio State University Extension educator for agriculture and natural resources in Delaware County.

Rob Leeds is the Ohio State University Extension educator for agriculture and natural resources in Delaware County.