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Taking the ‘edge’ out of nutsedge

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Experts discuss ID and control of one of the most common weeds in the U.S.

Nutsedge of any variety is rarely welcome in a lawn, and this perennial weed is difficult to combat.
We asked two experts, Geoff Smith, turf & ornamental sales representative for Gowan, and Charles Silcox, Ph.D., product development manager for Amvac Environmental Products, to offer some advice for identifying and treating nutsedge.

Nutsedge of all varieties — yellow, purple or globe — is found in most of the U.S. but is most prevalent in warm climates with moist soils. “If you’ve got the right amount of moisture and soil temperatures, nutsedge can establish anywhere,” Smith says. Yellow nutsedge is very common in areas east of the Mississippi, while purple nutsedge thrives in California and the Southeast.

“The simple trick is ‘sedges have three edges,’” Smith says. No matter the type of nutsedge, the leaf blades are typically a lighter shade of green and emerge in threes. If you follow the leaves of yellow nutsedge back to the stem, you will note its triangular shape, adds Silcox.

Nutsedge is a perennial that germinates from tubers. The tubers establish 8 to 10 inches below the soil and need 55-degree F soil temperatures at that depth to germinate. Water is also important, Smith notes. Tubers need a flush or percolation event to trigger germination.

When you add up all the agricultural acres in the world, perennial nutsedge is consistently ranked as one of the top five weeds in the world.

If not mowed, yellow nutsedge will develop a seedhead, but it is uncommon for the weed to reproduce by seeds, Silcox says.

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