An updated drought map of Indiana was released on July 26, 2012. Drought is rated as D0=abnormally dry, D1=moderate drought, D2=severe drought, D3=extreme drought, and D4=exceptional drought. Eighty-seven percent of the state is D2 or worse with 18.7% of the state in exception drought, with another 40% rated as extreme drought.
Because of the drought and lack of water in some areas, Marion county instituted a “water ban” on July 13, 2012 and many other communities have issued “water use restrictions” or “water conservation ordinances”. The state issued a water shortage warning last week and asked those who use more than 100,000 gallons of water a day to cut back 10 to 15 percent on their water usage. Many other communities are asking for a voluntary reduction in water use. If you live in an area with a watering ban, there is little that you can do at this point other than to keep traffic off your lawn and to pray for rain. In you still can water, the below links will provide some helpful guidance.
• Irrigation Practices for Homelawns discusses how much (and how) lawns should be watered
• My Lawn is Brown and Crunchy… Is it Dead? What do I do now? explains how "brown and crunchy" grass might not be dead
• Specialist: Controlling lawn weeds in drought carries risks explores whether herbicides are safe to use on lawns during drought
• Your Lawn in Times of Drought (video)
We are working on creating some information for homeowners and turf professionals to answer some of their frequently asked questions regarding how to recover turf following drought.
How long will the drought last?
If crystal balls actually worked or if we had a lifeline to Joseph of the old testament we might be able to predict when this drought might end and how to respond to it best. Even our best experts don’t know for sure when rains might return. A drought forecast map from NOAA released July 19, 2012 does not look promising and forecasts drought to persist in Indiana until October 31, 2012. IF this holds true, drought will continue to impact our fall management (fertilization, seeding, and weed control) programs.
Aaron Patton, Turfgrass Extension Specialist