Acreage Living August 2002
Vol. 8, No. 8
August 2002

ISU cooperative extension

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Trees for Acreages Conference

by Paul Wray, ISU Extension Forestry Department
Phone: 515-294-1168 - e-mail:

picture of a treeA Trees for Acreages Conference sponsored by Iowa Tree Farm Committee, Iowa State University Extension, IDNR Bureau of Forestry, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Iowa Woodland Owners Association will be held August 31, 2002, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Hawkeye Community College in Tama Hall, 1501 E. Orange Road, Waterloo, IA.

This conference is for acreage dwellers with trees on their acreages and those acreage owners who want to know more about the management and care of those trees.

The conference will offer four concurrent workshops — workshop titles are:

Pre-registration is preferred. Registration is $10 per person before August 20; $20 per person after August 20. Registration fee includes morning coffee, lunch, and door prizes. To receive a complete brochure of conference topics and speakers, contact Paul H. Wray, 251 Bessey Hall, ISU, Ames, IA 50011 515-294-1168 or may also contact your local county extension office for a copy of the brochure.

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Fall Is The Time to Rejuvenate Your Lawn

by Dr. Dave Minner, ISU Extension Turfgrass Specialist
Phone: 515-294-5726 - e-mail:

person carrying lawn fertilizerIf your lawn is in good shape after the summer, consider yourself an A1 master gardener. All you need to do is fertilize with a complete fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, between September and early November. But if you’re like most of us, the extended heat and spotty rainfall has left us wondering what to do with the weedy brown mess that surrounds our house. There is no need to panic, but it is important to act now if you want the lawn to be ready for next spring and summer. Dave Minner, extension turfgrass specialist at Iowa State University, says overseeding and fertilizing may be needed to repair lawns damaged by summer disease, drought, and heat. "The best time to plant straight Kentucky bluegrass is from mid-August through mid-September."

If you are forced to seed after mid-September, use a mixture with 60% Kentucky bluegrass and 40% perennial ryegrass by weight. Ryegrass will germinate faster and give better cover before the winter. Grass seeded after October 15 may not even germinate, let alone establish a plant that survives the winter.

If you routinely mow taller than 2.5 inches and have not fertilized since May, your brown lawn may be dormant and not dead. Taller mowing shades the ground and reduces lethal temperatures that kill roots and dormant leaf buds. Frugal use of nitrogen in the spring and summer allows the plant to harden off and prepare for dry summer conditions. Thoroughly water your lawn one time to see how much living grass you actually have. Apply about 1.5 inches of water or keep moving your sprinkler around the yard until the soil is moist to a depth of four inches. If 60 percent or more of the brown lawn responds by showing new green growth, you may not need to kill the

lawn and start over. If you decide there are just too many weeds and not enough desirable turfgrass, then kill the all the grass and weeds with a non-selective herbicide such as Roundup that allows for reseeding after 14 days.

Whatever approach you use, now is the best time to plant grass seed. An early start on planting usually results in a completely new lawn cover by Halloween. It is important to use mechanical equipment, such as slicer seeders or vertical mowers, to insure that the seed is actually placed in the soil rather than on top of the dead mat of grass and weeds. A starter fertilizer can be applied at the same time as seeding. Keep the top inch of soil moist with frequent and light watering to encourage seed germination. Water deeper and less frequent as the lawn matures.

Iowa State University Extension Guide pm1055 provides more detail on turfgrass renovation. Other ISU Extension Guides for fall lawn care are: pm1578 Selecting Turfgrass Species, pm1063 Turfgrass Management Calendar - Kentucky bluegrass (pdf), pm1072 Establishing a Lawn From Seed (pdf), pm1057 Maintenance and Fertilization of Turfgrass, pm1067 Which Grass is Best for Your Lawn, and pm1127 Thatch Control in the Home Lawn.

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Woolly Bear

Donald Lewisby Donald Lewis, ISU Extension Entomologist
Phone: 515-294-1101 - e-mail:

Woolly Bear caterpillarThe woolly bear is a common and well-known caterpillar. Though most people have one kind of woolly bear in mind, there are eight or more species in the U.S. that could legitimately be called woolly bears because of the dense, bristly hair that covers their bodies. Woolly bears are the caterpillar stage of medium sized moths known as tiger moths.

The best-known woolly bear is called the banded woolly bear. It is black at both ends and reddish-brown in the middle. The adult is called the isabella moth. The banded woolly bear is found throughout the U.S., Mexico, and southern Canada but not the rest of the world. There are two generations of caterpillars each year (May and August) The second generation is the one noticed in late fall when the woolly bears are crossing the roads, usually in great haste as if they have someplace special to go. In fact, they are only scurrying to find a sheltered location under dead plant debris, etc., where they will spend the winter as a larva. In the spring they will feed briefly before changing into a cocoon and eventually a moth. Eggs laid by the female moths start the cycle over again.

The adult moth of the banded woolly bear has white wings with scattered black spots. Wingspan is about two inches.

The banded woolly bear is the species mentioned in winter-prediction folklore that claims the longer the black at the ends of the body, the more severe will be the coming winter. As you might expect, science has debunked this legend by showing the amount of black varies with the age of the caterpillar and the moisture levels in the area where it developed.

This doesn’t stop the good folks of Vermilion, Ohio (east of Cleveland) from holding an annual "Woolly Bear Festival" — claimed to be the largest one-day festival in Ohio. Festivities include a parade, woolly bear races, and an "official" analysis of the woolly bears and forecast for the coming winter.

Related information:
Tiger Moth Information, including rearing instructions. From the Michigan Entomological Society.

Note: this information is valid for Iowa. It may or may not apply in your area.

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Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Shawn Shouseby Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension Field Specialist/Ag Engineering
Phone: 712-769-2600 - e-mail:

Back in the November 2001 issue, we talked briefly about hybrid cars. I thought it would be useful to give a more complete description of these new, energy efficient cars that are popping up all across the country. With a good deal of help from the Department of Energy web site, here is some additional information on hybrid electric vehicles.

What Are HEVs?

hybrid car modelHybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) combine the internal combustion engine of a conventional vehicle with the battery and electric motor of an electric vehicle, resulting in twice the fuel economy of conventional vehicles. This combination offers the extended range and rapid refueling that consumers expect from a conventional vehicle, with a significant portion of the energy and environmental benefits of an electric vehicle. The practical benefits of HEVs include improved fuel economy and lower emissions compared to conventional vehicles. The inherent flexibility of HEVs will allow them to be used in a wide range of applications, from personal transportation to commercial hauling. Other engines may be adapted to HEVs in the future, including fuel cells, diesel engines, and gas turbines. For now, the available HEVs use a small gasoline engine and an electric motor with batteries. The engine may be used only to charge the batteries, or it may be able to both charge the batteries and provide power directly to the wheels. The brakes on the car send the energy from slowing the car back to the batteries rather than wasting the energy as heat.

Why HEVs?

Hybrid power systems were conceived as a way to compensate for the shortfall in battery technology. Because batteries could supply only enough energy for short trips, an onboard generator, powered by an internal combustion engine, could be installed and used for longer trips. Hybrids will never be true zero-emission vehicles because of their internal combustion engine. But the first hybrids on the market will cut emissions of global-warming pollutants by a third to a half, and later models may cut emissions by even more.


HEVs have several advantages over conventional vehicles:

The HEVs available for sale are very cost competitive with similar conventional vehicles. Any cost premium that may be associated with HEVs of the future can be offset by overall fuel savings and possible incentives. Some states (but not Iowa) offer incentives for HEVs. To learn if your state offers incentives, go to the Department of Energy Fleet Buyer’s Guide at

More Information

For more information on hybrid electric vehicles, try these web sites:

For more information on three currently available HEVs, the Honda Insight, Honda Civic, and Toyota Prius, visit the manufacturer web pages at:


Lingo Lexicon: (brief definitions of current environmental jargon)

Rotational Grazing - No, it’s not cows rolling down the hill as they eat. Rotational grazing, sometimes called management intensive grazing, involves dividing pastures into smaller areas, called paddocks, and rotating the grazing animals to a new paddock on a frequent basis - sometimes as often as daily. Rotational grazing forces the animals to graze the pasture more uniformly, distributing manures more evenly, and gives the pasture plants a better chance to recover before the next grazing, which increases the number of animals supported by the same pasture acres.

Acreage Living is published monthly. For more information, contact your local county ISU Extension Office.
Editor: Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension FS/Ag Engineering, SW Area Extension, 53020 Hitchcock Avenue, Lewis, Iowa, 51544, Ph: 712/769-2600
Layout & Design: Paulette Cambridge, Office Assistant, SW Area Extension, 53020 Hitchcock Avenue, Lewis, Iowa 51544, Ph: 712/769-2600

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