Finally, A Grass To Celebrate

September 1, 2011

In Texas, dove hunting began today and those hunters lucky enough to find some water to hunt near will find their gun barrels with a heat index almost as hot as the Texas sun. There in lies the problem, water, or the lack thereof. I enjoy a little time in the field bird huntin’ and one thing it seems that you can always count on with dove season is the rain that comes along with opening day. I realize that is a bit of a reach but that’s the way it feels. With history in mind and a historical drought for the Gulf Coast of Texas on my mind I anticipated this day. I was not looking forward to showering down on a mourning dove with a blistering shower of Remington Shurshot Heavy Dove Load, but rather being showered upon by thirst quenching, life giving rain from a wave of gulf moisture.

Newsflash, it’s hot and dry.

What does all of this have to do with a grass worth celebrating? Look around, there seems not to be a lot to Celebrate about grass in these drought conditions. Here is the part where I could go into all of the facts about grass being 30 degrees cooler than asphalt on a summer day and so on, and so on.

That is a different article, I just want to talk plainly about things that I see in this historic drought we are experiencing. I have always said there is no perfect grass and I still believe that. Here is the payoff. I am about to let you in on a secret, shhhhhhhh. Celebration® Bermuda. Let me say that again, Celebration Bermuda.

Celebration Bermudagrass in the field

At Murff Turf Farm, we grow nine varieties of turf and the drought has taught me something different about each variety. Celebration has really impressed me as the drought conditions linger on. The drought tolerance it has displayed has been astounding. We have always relied heavily on mother nature to produce our turf and this year she has not been so kind. We do irrigate our turf, but much of that irrigation is used in order to give us the moisture needed in order to harvest and send out a turf that is ready to root down. We have had a lot of damage to all of our varieties in these dry conditions. The grass that has had the least amount of injury and death has been the Celebration Bermuda.

Celebration big rolls

There is a location that we no longer farm and thus has not been irrigated at all this year. In this location there was a 4 acre plot of Celebration that bordered a plot of tif 419. Comparing the two plots of grass you immediately see the difference. In a year where this location has had a total of 3″ of rain, compared with the normal 30″ of rain, the tif 419 has about 10% live rate compared to about a 90% live rate of the Celebration. I told you this is plain talk and those observations are not scientific hypotheses, they are what I see. That makes a believer out of this grass farmer. A few years ago, the San Antonio Water System (SAWS), in conjunction with the Turfgrass Producers of Texas did a drought study that basically showed the excellent drought tolerance displayed by Celebration compared to more than 50 other varieties of turf. That was a scientific study and I would say that science was confirmed by mother nature in 2011.

Celebration on left and Tif 419 on right
Tif 419 on left and Celebration on right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have observed it in yards this year where with water it has looked great and I have seen it in yards with no irrigation and it looked much better than the neighboring yards with St. Augustine and zoysia. Not only does it stand up to the drought conditions but it also displays excellent wear tolerance which really shows up in various sports applications. I really liked the Celebration going into 2011, but after this crazy year, the likability factor has shot through the roof.

There is no perfect grass. All grasses have their limitations when it comes to different environments and some are suited to certain environments better than others. That being said, Celebration is high on my list as a tough, dependable, aesthetically pleasing turf. It’s growing on me, and on our farm, and it will grow on you; well maybe not “on” you, but you get my point.

Lindy Murff

Winter Dormancy

February 11, 2011

I hope everyone is staying safe and warm in all these freezing temperatures we’ve had lately.  I guess you get used to below freezing temperatures if you live in a cold climate but down here in Southeast Texas we just aren’t used to temps below freezing.  Although I will say that when the temperature last Friday (Feb 4 2011) only got down to 29 degrees fahrenheit, I thought to myself how much nicer that was than the 21 degrees we had the night before!

Speaking of winter and cold temps, I wanted to talk about how grass can go dormant in the winter time.  Warm season grasses that are grown here in Southeast Texas go dormant when the temps get below 60 degrees F on a regular basis.  The grass doesn’t turn brown right away and can stay green late into the fall.  The grass will start to turn brown and lose its color when we start getting frost on the ground.

The reason I bring this up is because sometimes in the winter we have customers order grass and then are not happy when they receive brown grass and the grass in their yard isn’t brown or at least still has a good bit of green tint to it.  If you live in a subdivision or in town with buildings all around you or even if you have some trees in your yard there’s a good chance your lawn won’t turn very brown.  If your lawn is protected from frost by trees, or buildings or just the general heat of other homes in close proximity, then your grass won’t turn as brown as ours does out on the farm.

Below are some pictures to illustrate.  Our fields are basically wide open to the weather so the grass in the field doesn’t have any protection from the frost and it can turn a crispy looking brown!  This picture was taken Thursday, February 10, 2011.  We have had frost on the ground probably every morning for the last two weeks.

Eastgate field Feb 2011

In these next pictures you can see that the yard is basically brown but under the trees where the grass was protected somewhat from the frost, the grass still has some green color to it.  And this is only from protection from the trees.  Imagine if your yard had some trees and had houses all around to protect it even more.

Empire under trees at office
Empire under tree next to office

So please just remember that the grass coming from the farm in winter will probably not be as green as what is in your neighbor’s yard but it is still a great time to install sod.  With the grass being dormant it requires less water.  It will put down roots even though it’s dormant.  And when spring comes along the grass will be ready to take off.  When we plant a new field or replant an existing one we almost always do it during the late fall and winter months.  There is just so much less maintenance required for newly planted grass when the grass is dormant.

Thanks for stopping by and be safe out there!

Quality sod only 25 minutes from downtown Houston

Sign at entrance to our office

We grow quality sod in Crosby, TX, only 25 minutes from downtown Houston.  Seems like it gets closer all the time also with the new roads opening up between Crosby and Houston.  The Highway 90 extension that connects to Loop 610 and I-10 is now open and makes the trip even quicker!

We are licensed to grow several varieties of grass that were developed by Sod Solutions, Inc., including Empire Zoysia and Celebration Bermuda.  We have two new varieties from them that should be ready for harvest in late 2012:  Discovery Bermuda and Geo Zoysia.

We also have Raleigh St. Augustine, Palmetto St. Augustine, Tif 419 Bermuda, and Common Bermuda.  We sell wholesale to resellers, landscapers, builders and other commercial businesses but we also sell directly to the consumer and homeowner!  Homeowner’s can pick up grass at our office in Crosby, 15204 Bohemian Hall Rd., or we can deliver right to your driveway in most cases!  So give us a call for all your sod needs and let us help you have a beautiful yard!

New Sod Needs Water

May 8, 2008

Just a quick update here about watering your new sod!

Watering new sod is extremely important and deserves a quick update here. When sod is harvested, placed on a pallet, delivered to a new site, and then transplanted, it becomes stressed out as you can imagine. One of the best things you can do is to plant it as soon as possible because when the grass is stacked on a pallet it generates heat in all those layers. If left on the pallet too long (more than a day in the Summer) that heat will start to cook the grass and it will start turning brown. So step number one is to plant it as soon as possible!

Sod about to be installed

The next step is to water it properly. By the time the grass gets to your site it will be thirsty and be starting to dry out. You don’t want the dirt on the block of grass to get dry and hard. Dry dirt is hard on the roots. So put a sprinkler out as soon as you finish laying the sod down. If you are doing a very large area then put a sprinkler down as soon as you have an area down big enough for the sprinkler and it won’t be in your way of the other areas you are still planting. The sprinkler needs to stay in place long enough for the grass to get 1.5 to 2 inches of water which is hard to measure with a sprinkler so we just tell people to leave the sprinkler in place for a minimum of 1 hour, maybe 2 depending on how much water your sprinkler puts out. Then move the sprinkler to another area. Be sure to overlap the watered areas otherwise you will have dry spots and the grass will turn yellow.

Keep moving the sprinkler around the yard until you have watered the entire yard. Then it will be time to start over again. The first 2 weeks are extremely critical for newly planted sod. You don’t want the grass to dry out at all during these 2 weeks. After the first 2 weeks you can cut way back on watering to once a week or once every two weeks really but the first couple weeks are critical to keeping the grass alive. Without water, newly planted grass will start to wilt and turn yellow/brown within a matter of hours. We have pictures of yards where grass was planted and a sprinkler was placed on it and the grass looks good and green and the area right next to it that has not been watered yet is already starting to lose some of its green color.

As an example of how fast newly planted grass can start wilting here is a picture of newly planted Celebration bermuda grass.  The installation has just been completed and the irrigation system has been turned on but they can’t turn on all the sprinklers at one time so some of the grass has been sitting in the hot sun for an hour or so.  You can already see a difference between the grass that has gotten water and the grass that is waiting for its turn!

Watered vs. not

Hope this helps someone out there. Please call us if you have any questions! We cannot stress enough that you need to water your sod immediately after planting it!

Thanks,

Scott Murff

Fall Armyworms

August 21, 2007

Did someone forget to tell me that the Fall season came early this year? It is 100 degrees outside. Actually, I think someone told the Fall Army worms that it was their season, because they are here and on the march. Maybe we should rename them the Summer Armyworms. If you have a Bermuda grass or Zoysiagrass lawn then you may be aware of the presence of this pest already. To be sure, they are real pests, but take heart, they will not kill your established lawn but they make you think they did. Armyworms will eat the green right off of your lawn when the populations get heavy. Know this, you can identify them and you can control them.

People sometimes believe that the turf producers do not have to deal with all of the problems a homeowner has when it comes to having a beautiful lawn. Well let me tell you, we have to deal with all of your typical problems, except shade issues, and on a much larger scale. Below I will give you a few things to think about when it comes to dealing with armyworms. I am not going to get real scientific but just give you some plain talk about these pests.

What are armyworms?

  • Caterpillars which grow to about 1 and a half inches in length at maturity.
  • They are shades of green with white stripes running the length of both sides of their backs
  • They typically like to feed at night.

When do they appear?

  • I look for them after heavy rains in the summer
  • Typically I see them in the months of July and August
  • They are more easily seen at night while feeding on the leaves

How do I know if I have an infestation in my lawn?

  • If you began to see patches of brown grass in the lawn, this may be an indicator.
  • If you notice birds , more than usual, in your lawn, then you may want to check for worms underneath the canopy of the turf
  • Get a large coffee can and cut out both ends. Press the can firmly into the ground and fill with soapy water. Caterpillars will float to the top. If you see one or two, treatment is not essential. If you see five or six, it is time to treat.

How do I treat the infestation?

  • Go to your local garden center and look for a product called Sevin and follow the label or find a permethrin.
  • If possible it is good to mow your yard prior to applying the insecticide.
  • Apply the insecticide in the late afternoon.

Armyworms, generally, are pests of Bermuda and zoysia and do not have a great impact on St. Augustine lawns. St. Augustine lawns have a pest, the chinch bug, which can do greater harm to your lawn than what the armyworm will do to your Bermuda or zoysia. We will leave that discussion to a future article.

As a producer of turf, I always like to remind people that there is no perfect turf in the South. They are living organisms and all have challenges to face. Your environment is one factor in determining the grass that is right for your lawn and there are lots of grasses to meet different environmental factors.

Good luck and watch out for those armyworms. Thanks for visiting our web site.