We studied the emergence phenology of large and smooth crabgrass in lawn and bare soil environments and identified ornamental plants as phenological indicators that predict the progress of emergence. From 2002 to 2004, we monitored emergence of large and smooth crabgrass in field plots to estimate the dates of first emergence, and 25, 50 and 80% emergence. Each year, we monitored 74 taxa of ornamental plants to determine dates of first and full bloom. We compiled dates of weed emergence and ornamental blooming to create a biological calendar of phenological events for each year, ordered by average cumulative degree days (DD) (January 1 start date, 10 C base temperature). Ornamental plant flowering events that occurred in a regular sequence before crabgrass emergence events were identified as the phenological indicators. We also evaluated DD and rule-based models for predicting crabgrass emergence and optimum time of PRE herbicide application. In general, smooth crabgrass reached each emergence stage earlier than large crabgrass. Differences in emergence between environments were not consistent over years for the two species. There was no consistent pattern in parameters for DD models predicting emergence events for either crabgrass species or environment. For published DD models, the deviation between observed and predicted emergence events ranged from 0 to > 60 d. Published rule-based predictions, though accurate in some cases, were sometimes difficult to implement. The order of ornamental plant blooming and crabgrass emergence events was generally consistent over years (R2 = 0.977). The biological calendar provided useful crabgrass emergence predictions using real-time field-based indicators of sequential biological events that can help managers plan and optimize management strategies.
Nomenclature: Large crabgrass, Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop. DIGSA; smooth crabgrass, Digitaria ischaemum (Schreb.) Schreb. ex Muhl. DIGIS