February 2020
Onslow County Center
A Note From Emilee
Timing of Preemergent (PRE) Herbicide Applications for 2020 - Apply Earlier
- Written By  Fred Yelverton  
From previous research, we know that crabgrass germinateswith 24-hour mean soil temperatures average about 53-55 degrees at a 2 to 4 inch depth for several consecutive days. Because the climate in NC is quite varied (ski resorts in western NC and palm trees in eastern NC), the actual date of the critical soil temperature varies significantly. Traditionally, in the southeastern part of the state, we know that PRE herbicides should be applied and watered in by about March 1, in the  Piedmont about March 15, and in western NC about early April (depending on the elevation). Based on observations of crabgrass emergence and data from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association), my recommendation for 2020 is for turfgrass managers to apply PRE herbicides two weeks earlier than previous recommendations.
Why the change? In 2 of the last 3 years, I have found crabgrass emergence in late February (see photo). In the previous 30 years of my career, I have never seen crabgrass emergence in February. Furthermore, NOAA climate data show that in 2019, the average temperature in NC was the warmest on record. The average temperature in NC in 2019 was 61.2 degrees. That is 2.7 degrees above the average from 1901-2000. This makes the average NC temperature the highest ever recorded.
Is there a penalty for applying PRE herbicides too early? The answer is:  not much. PRE herbicides are degraded (primarily) by soil microorganisms. When soil temperatures are in the 40s and 50s, microorganism activity in soil is low.  Therefore, minimum degradation of PRE herbicides occur when applied in January and February.

Upcoming Events

* Please note that the Plant Clinic will be closed from December 20 through March 3rd. Starting in March the new clinic hours will be Tuesday through Thursday, 9-12 and 1-4. Emilee Morrison, the Agent, will be available while the clinic is closed if you have any garden questions. 

  11 th -Eastern NC Nursery Conference
Landscapers and nursery producers: 
13th- Southeast Trees and the Law Symposium
This training is designed for landscapers, arborists, or anyone who handles situations regarding urban trees. Find out more here:   https://www.ncufc.org/event.php?id=21
22nd -Introduction to Growing Vegetables and Fruits in Coastal Carolina
Join Onslow County Cooperative Extension agents in an interactive workshop on growing your own food in coastal Carolina. Topics will include starting from seed, preparing your soil, fruit and vegetable basics, and disease and insect management.  
Cost is $15 and includes refreshments, lunch, and program materials. Pre-registration is required by February 17th. Call (910) 455-5873 to register. 
29th- High Tunnel Workshop | 9:00 AM - 2:30 PM EST |Cost $5 (Includes Materials and Lunch) | Environmental Education Center 1330 North Carolina 210 Sneads Ferry, NC 28460.
Are you interested in extending your vegetable harvest earlier in the spring or later in the fall? High tunnels are a useful tool for season extension and crop protection. In this workshop, participants will learn about high tunnel selection and purchasing, managing the growing environment, crop selection and varieties. This workshop will include a tour of a local farm showcasing several different types of high tunnels in production.  Register for this course on Eventbrite.  https://tinyurl.com/wef9ktn

February Tips and Tasks
*  Peas and potatoes are among the first vegetables to plant as winter starts to fade in to spring. Garden peas, snow peas and sugar snaps are easy, productive crops. Peas should be grown from seed in the garden. Soaking your pea seeds before planting will speed germination. Place them in a jar of water and soak them for 6-8 hours just before planting, before sowing seeds an inch deep and one to two inches apart. Water well and keep moist until seedlings begin to emerge, usually within seven to ten days. Peas are a vining crop and benefit from a low trellis or even just a row of branches to climb on. 
*  Potatoes can be planted in mid February. Purchase seed potatoes from a garden center. Seed potatoes usually give better results than potatoes purchased from the grocery store or those held over from the previous season. Plant seed pieces six inches deep and ten inches apart in the row with three feet between rows. Keep in mind twelve pounds of seed potatoes can plant around one hundred feet of row and yield over two hundred pounds of spuds. Potatoes can also be grown successfully in large containers. Depending on the variety, potatoes will take 85-110 days to grow to maturity.
*   Prune back ornamental grasses and ground covers in early February before new growth starts. Add mulch to beds if needed. 
*   Scale can be a problem on hollies and other shrubbery outside and on houseplants indoors. Scale are small, hard bodied insects that often look like bumps on the bark or leaves of the plant. Scale on landscape plants can be treated with horticultural oils. Follow the label directions and use the spray rate recommended for the time of year. Acephate (Orthene), carbaryl or insecticidal soap can also be used. Insecticidal soap is a good choice for scale on houseplants. A second treatment after two weeks is generally needed to control newly emerged scale insects. With any product, read and follow all label directions and remember that thorough coverage is critical for control. 
*   Plants naturally change color in the winter and even evergreens like azaleas, gardenias and camellias can experience yellowing. Older leaves naturally yellow and drop off. If azaleas are discolored and the leaves show stippling (tiny discolored spots), spider mites could be the culprit. Spider mites can be controlled with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap. 
*   If you are using a pre-emergent herbicide to control summer annual weeds (including crabgrass) in your lawn, aim to apply it around Valentine's Day. If these chemicals are applied too late, you will not get adequate weed control. Read and follow all label directions. Avoid weed-and-feed formulations and wait until mid-May to June to fertilize warm season lawns. 
*   Remove leaves and debris from lawns. Do not burn St. Augustine, centipede, or zoysiagrass lawns. Irrigation is usually not necessary during the winter months. The optimum time to seed or lay sod for a warm season lawn is in the spring from about April until July 1. 
Trees and shrubs
*   Dormant pruning of fruit trees and grapevines should be done in February, as should heavy pruning and rejuvenation pruning of most ornamental shrubs. Remember to wait and prune spring flowering shrubs such as azaleas and forsythia after they bloom. 
Planting Plans!
*   Plan your spring vegetable garden. Cool season crops need to be planted early enough to harvest before the heat of summer hits. Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, onion, garden peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach and turnips can all be planted in February for spring harvest. 
Want to plan ahead?  Here are the planting dates for next month, too!
Beets 3/1-4/15
Swiss Chard 3/1-4/15
Dill 3/15-3/31
Corn 3/15-4/30
Snap Bean  3/20-6/15
Peas (Southern) 3/25-6/15

Feb 21st- Oyster Roast Fundraiser. For tickets visit. 

Mar 4 - Association Meeting at 530pm.  Those interested in becoming market vendors are encouraged to attend this meeting. 

April 18 - Farmers' Market Reopens

Association Meetings 

Onslow County Beekeepers' Association Meeting
Second Tuesday of each month at 7pm.
Contact: Curt Hildt, President 910-545-8582
Onslow County Master Gardener Volunteer Association Meeting
Second Thursday of each month
Contact: Emilee Morrison, 910-455-5873, emroz@ncsu.edu
Onslow County Farmers' Market Board Meeting
November 20, 2019 at 5:30pm
Contact: Marie Bowman, 910-455-5873, marie_bowman@onslowcountync.gov
If you have questions about lawn, landscape or garden problems, contact your local Cooperative Extension office.  In Onslow County call 455-5873, Mon - Fri. 8 am - 5 pm, or visit us online anytime at http://onslow.ces.ncsu.edu.  While you are there, you can post your questions to be answered by email using the "Ask an Expert' widget (in the upper left hand corner).

North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status or disability.  In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.  North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.  
Emilee Morrison, Extension Agent, 
Agriculture - Horticulture
4024 Richlands Hwy, Jacksonville, NC 28540