Wednesday, September 5, 2018

What you do in the off season....Determines your winter and spring, 2019!

With the fall sports season underway, the phrase, ‘What you do in the off season determines what you do in the regular season,’ certainly comes into play.  I feel the same way about September for rural Montana.  What we do in September will determine what we do in the coming winter and spring. 
            In terms of preparing for winter, we know propane prices are lower this time of year than
Winter 2018 was one for the books, make sure
to get propane ordered, firewood cut, and
cupboards and freezers filled now.
Photo by Kari Lewis
during the dead of winter, so now is the time to get that supply ordered.  We know it is much easier and safer to access firewood now, than in the winter.  And, we know that now is the time to stock those cupboards and fill the freezer as well.  Do you remember what last winter was like??  Let’s be prepared!
              In terms of our lawn, now is the time to make those fall fertilizer applications.  In Montana, we recommend fertilizing around Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day.  The final fall fertilizer application should occur after the last mowing of the year, but about four weeks before the soil freezes.  Therefore, by making those fall fertilizer applications now, our lawns will green up much sooner in the spring and have increased vigor.
             In terms of any newly planted trees, now is the time make sure newly planted evergreens have sun barriers on the windward and south side, and that deciduous trees have their trunks wrapped with a tree wrap to help reflect the sun, which will reduce sunscald on the bark.  Later in the fall after the leaves have turned color and fallen off, trees should be watered weekly until the soil freezes.  These fall waterings (after the leaves have fallen off) will help maintain tree health and longevity. 
            In terms of the cowherd, we know that cull cow prices are typically higher in September than they are in October or November when the dry cows hit the market.  Therefore, now would be the time to market those cull cows.  We also know that it’s much easier to put condition on a cow in the fall while she’s in the 2nd trimester, than later in the winter or right before calving.  Now is the time to body condition score those cows and sort off the young cows or thin cows to early wean their calves and provide them a little extra time to bounce back before calving.
            In terms of controlling winter annual weeds and perennial weeds, fall is a great time to do so.  Winter annual weeds, such as cheatgrass, are best managed in the early fall.  Winter annual weeds are easiest to control when air temperatures are mild, and weeds are still actively growing, generally before the first killing frost. 
Fall is a great time to control perennial weeds as cooler temperatures trigger the weed to prepare for winter by moving food reserves down to its roots, which promotes movement of herbicides to the plant’s roots and results in improved control.   Dandelions in the lawn, spotted knapweed, houndstongue, and whiteop are examples of perennial weeds that can be effectively managed in the fall.  Fall herbicides should be made only if plants still have green, pliable leaf tissues and are best done when daytime temperatures are expected to exceed 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you have questions on fall lawn or tree care, weed management, cowherd nutrition, food preservation, etc., be sure to contact your local MSU Extension office!

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