Soil pH in Texas

The pH in soil is tested to measure acidity or alkalinity, with a 7.0 being neutral. Soil measuring below 7 is more acidic and above 7 is more alkaline. Two factors determining pH are the composition of the soil itself and the amount of rainfall the area receives.

Although the effect pH has on soil may seem indirect, it can be far-reaching. Nutrients to plants become available or unavailable according the pH levels in the soil. Most plants prefer a slightly acidic soil but if levels are too low, it causes other components of the soil that are not plant nutrients to reach toxic levels, hindering proper growth. A slight acidity is what earthworms prefer and it also assists microorganisms in converting nitrogen into materials plants can use.

In general, an application of limestone or dolomite limestone (limestone mixed with magnesium) is used to raise the pH level, while sulfur can be used to lower it.

Mole Crickets

mole crickets
Mole crickets belong to the cricket and grasshopper family, are often found in sand-based soils and generally in Bermuda grasses, but can also be present in Zoysia.

Adults are typically active and can be seen after sunset during spring months. Females lay eggs from April through June. Once they hatch, young nymphs start feeding on roots, organic matter and other insects underground. At night, they come to the surface to feed causing extensive damage to turf as they forage for food. Golf courses and athletic fields are especially affected because these surfaces allow for trouble-free tunneling. The most severe damage basically occurs late summer into early autumn. Treatment at this point in development is difficult. The earlier the treatment can occur, the better the result for managing the young nymphs and prevention of adulthood.

The best way to check for the presence of mole crickets is to combine a tablespoon of lemon-scented liquid detergent with a gallon of water and pour it over areas of possible activity. The mixture will irritate the young nymphs and draw them to the surface.