Fertilizing Your Fescue, Controlling Ladybugs, and Free Range Eggs Q&A

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There were some excellent questions that came into the Caldwell Extension Center this week, and I’d like to share three of them with you. I hope you find these questions and their answers helpful. If you have a specific question not answered here, please contact the Caldwell Extension Center.
Q: When should I fertilize my lawn?

A: Fescue grass is a cool-season grass. It does the majority of its productive growth between September and June.


Now is the time to fertilize fescue lawns. Apply one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.

For this reason, fertilizer applications should be concentrated in the fall, winter, and early spring. To keep it simple, just remember to fertilize on Valentine’s Day, Labor Day, and Halloween.

The amount of fertilizer to apply should be determined by a soil test. Soil testing kits are available at the Caldwell Extension Center. If you do not have a current soil test, look for fertilizer with a ratio of 3-1-2 or 4-1-2, such as 12-4-8 or 16-4-8.

Apply one pound of actual Nitrogen (N) per 1000 square feet. To calculate how much fertilizer you should apply per 1000 square feet, divide 100 by the first number of the fertilizer bag. (The first number always represents nitrogen content.) For example, if you’ve got a 10-10-10 fertilizer, divide 100 by 10 and you get 10. That means you need to buy 10 pounds of fertilizer for every 1,000 square feet of lawn. Likewise, if you are using 12-4-8, divide 100 by 12 to get 8.3 pounds. Therefore, 8.3 pounds would be the amount of fertilizer to apply per 1,000 square feet.

Q: What can I spray in my house to control ladybugs?

A: I do not recommend spraying insecticide inside to control ladybugs. The reason is simple. Ladybugs are not eating anything, so there is no good place to spray. Or rather, you would have to spray everywhere. Spraying everywhere becomes hazardous for those living in the home.

Insects can be vacuumed up. Once in the vacuum, remember to empty the bag so they do not crawl back out of the vacuum. Sticky fly strips hung in front of south facing windows can also help. Use the sticky strips in rooms where ladybugs are found.

The best defense against ladybugs is exclusion before they get into your home in the fall. This will help with power bills, too. Essentially, this is doing a good job with home weatherization. Make sure screens on windows are well-seated and without holes; and that soffit, ridge, and gable vents are properly screened. In locations where screening cannot be used, such as around pipe penetrations, steel wool can be stuffed into these openings to prevent the entry. Lastly, doors should establish a tight seal when closed, and door sweeps should be installed.

Q: Are free-range eggs more nutritious?

A: Dr. Ken Anderson, a professor in the Department of Poultry Science at NC State University, conducted a scientific study titled “Comparison of Fatty Acid, Cholesterol, and Vitamin A and E Composition in Eggs from Hens Housed in Conventional Cage and Range Production Facilities”. Dr. Anderson collected data for the study in 2008 and 2009. The study was conducted with the North Carolina Layer Performance and Management Test (NCLP&MT), which evaluates the major commercial layer lines used in the United States.

Egg samples were collected at 50, 62, and 74 weeks of age during the productive life of the flocks and sent to four different laboratories commonly used for egg nutrient analysis. The results showed no influence of housing environment (range or cage) on egg levels of vitamin A or vitamin E. However, beta-carotene levels were higher in the range eggs, which contributed to the darker colored yolks observed during the study. The study found no difference in cholesterol content between range and cage produced eggs.

Based on these results, Dr. Anderson concluded, “a significant nutritional advantage of eggs produced by chickens housed on range versus cages could not be established.” Perhaps the most striking finding was that both cage and range produced eggs actually have lower cholesterol levels than previously believed, which has led the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to lower the cholesterol guidelines for eggs in the USDA Nutrient Database for shell eggs to 185 mg per egg, down from 213 mg.”

For answers to your agricultural questions, call the Caldwell County Extension Center at 828-757-1290 or visit us online anytime at //caldwell.ces.ncsu.edu.