Kenny Sharpe

A quick survey around my home and office reveals leaves on all the trees I can see except for pecan trees. Pecans are typically the last tree to leaf out and many people believe that when they do, spring is officially here.

While pecan trees have not put on their leaves yet the buds are swollen and ready to go. If you have had problems in the past with those little green galls that get on the leaves and twigs it is at bud break that you have your only opportunity at control for the year.

The galls, or knots as many people call them, are caused by an insect known as pecan phylloxera. The insects emerge from eggs that are in the cracks and crevices of the bark about the time that green growth appears. Those nymphs will feed on the new growth and as they feed a gall will form around the insect and completely envelop them. The female will mature inside of the green gall and lay 300 -1300 eggs that will hatch and more insects emerge when the gall turns black and breaks open in May.

Phylloxera can reduce pecan production and nut quality. If you had galls last year you should spray this year if you want to break the life cycle. Your control window is very narrow so you have to be ready. You should spray an insecticide such as Provado, Lorsban,Warrior or Malathion from the time the bud first opens up until you get ½ inch of green growth. That is usually a short time span and you will see that it is not consist on the tree from top to bottom. For that reason you might need a second spray a week after the first.

The early spring has many people eager to go out and fertilize their lawns. In a normal year I like to make the fertilizer application about mid-April but this year I would go ahead and fertilize about the end of March. Then you are past any real threat of frost but also the grass has time to develop a root system so it can take up fertilizer and the nights will warm up so grass will be actively growing.

Weed control timing is also thrown off. We started green up so early that it made it hard to get in a dormant weed control treatment. You need to wait until the grass has been green for at least 2 to 3 weeks so the grass is healthy enough to survive the herbicide treatment. You can make your first fertilization a weed and feed treatment or you can spray.

One of the worst problems I see after the wet year we had is dollar weed. It is a round weed that grows in the wetter spots and beyond and has a single petiole or stem attaching to the center of the round leaf. Another weed I am seeing a bumper crop of this year, even out in pastures, is what I know as wild strawberry or Indian mockstrawberry (Duchesnea indica). It is a low growing perennial with long stolons. It has 3 leaflets like a strawberry, has single yellow flowers and produces a red strawberry-like fruit that is not poisonous but is also not palatable.

Both of these weeds are hard to control with the normal lawn maintenance herbicides. We can get good control of both with a combination of atrazine and a 2,4-D blend such as Weed-B-Gon, Weed Free Zone, Bayer Southern Weed Killer, Wipe Out or Trimec. You can mix both the atrazine and 2,4-D blend together and make one spray but you will need to calibrate accurately. It you are over on your calibration you can burn the grass and if you are under you will not get the desired result. If you like to use weed and feeds, use one with atrazine and water it in. Come right back and make a application of a 2,4-D blend the same day.

This combination will get these hard to control weeds plus a host of other broad leaf weeds that you will find in the lawn this time of year.


Kenny Sharpe is county agent with the LSU Cooperative Extension Service in Livingston Parish. For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit

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