Pennsylvania Applicators-Last Chance to Complete Your CE!

Commercial Applicators and Public Certified Applicators must complete approved continuing education by September 30th!

Certified Training Institute offers online video courses that are approved by the state and available 24/7 from any internet capable device. Once you complete your courses we will submit them to the state and provide you with a printable copy of your certificate of completion for your own records - don't want to print it? We will store your course completion records at no extra cost!

Follow the links below for a complete continuing education package and individual courses!

16 Credit Bundles
for Categories 01, 06, 07, 23

14 Credit Bundles
for Categories 10, 15, 16

Individual Courses
Category Specific





Weed Biology Part IV: Summer Annuals vs. Winter Annuals

Summer Annuals vs. Winter Annuals

Last week we talked about the different weed life cycles. Annuals are the most common type of weed we see in turf and ornamental weed management. But in addition to being able to identify a weed as an annual, biennial, or perennial, we need to know if an annual weed is a summer annual or a winter annual. Why? Because pre-emergent herbicides only work on seeds that are newly germinated and haven’t emerged from the soil yet. Once a seedling is able to reach the soil surface and start the process of photosynthesis it will no longer be controlled by a pre-emergent herbicide. Understanding the difference between summer annuals and winter annuals will help you determine when to apply pre-emergent herbicides to your turf and ornamental areas.

prostrate spurge weed

Summer Annuals

Summer annuals are the weeds that are most prolific during the summertime. Their development follows the calendar year. They’ll germinate in the spring, flower during the summer, set seed in the fall, and then die in the winter. The seeds will overwinter on the soil surface and then germinate in the spring starting the whole cycle over again. Pre-emergent will need to be applied fairly early in the spring in order to be effective against summer annual weeds. Prostrate spurge (pictured) and common lambsquarters are both summer annuals.

henbit weed

Winter Annuals

Winter annuals on the other hand, split the calendar year. Winter annuals will germinate in the late summer or early fall. Usually after the hottest weather has passed. Winter annuals will overwinter in a vegetative phase and be present in the spring when the air and soil warms. They’ll flower in the early spring, set seed in early summer, and then die in the hottest part of the summer. Once the temperatures start to cool in late summer the new seeds will germinate, and the cycle will start over again. Another application of pre-emergent herbicides may be necessary in the summer months if winter annuals are prolific. Henbit (pictured) and annual bluegrass are both winter annuals.

This installment marks the end of our weed biology series. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Check out these courses if you’d like more information on weed biology or weed management in turf and ornamental settings.





Weed Biology Part 3: Annual vs Biennial vs Perennial

Last week we talked about each stage of the weed life cycle and alluded to the difference between annuals, biennials, and perennials. (Click here to catch up if you missed last week’s post.) But what does that mean and how does it relate to weed management? In this week’s post we’re going to take a look at the differences between these three life-spans and touch on effective management strategies for each.


Annuals have the shortest life span: one growing season. They’ll germinate, grow, flower, set seed and die all within one growing season. (Stay tuned to next week when we talk about the different types of annuals.) Annuals are usually prolific seeders. Think about how many seeds one dandelion head can produce. The prolific seed production is the reason annual weeds appear to be back year after year after year. The best way to manage annual weeds is to get ahead of them and prevent them from emerging at all. When applied properly at the correct time of year, pre-emergent herbicides will provide adequate control over weed seeds essentially breaking the cycle. Now the only thing you need to do is convince the neighbors to do the same thing…



Biennials are a little harder to manage. Pre-emergent herbicides can be somewhat effective at preventing biennials from germinating, but what do you do with the weeds already present? As the name suggests, biennials take two years to complete their life cycle. Let’s look at an example: Queen Anne’s Lace, or wild carrot.

Year 1: Queen Anne’s Lace will germinate from seed the first year, but unlike annuals, it will not produce flowers or seeds during the first year. Biennials will grow to the vegetative stage and form a compact cluster of leaves with a thick fleshy root. These fleshy roots are difficult to pull by hand. The weed will then enter dormancy at the end of the growing season but will not die.

Year 2: Queen Anne’s Lace will come out of dormancy, finish growing through the vegetative stage and move into the flower and seed production phase. Queen Anne’s Lace is fairly recognizable during its second year but can be mistaken for carrots during the first year. Biennials in year two will flower prolifically, set seed, and then die at the end of that growing season.

Pre-emergent herbicides will help biennial seeds from germinating the first year but will do nothing to prevent established biennials from growing through year two if already established. Selective herbicides can be used if managing biennial weeds in an established turf. Use care in applying herbicides to manage biennial weeds in ornamental situations.




The last length of life cycle we’re going to touch on are perennials. What makes perennial weeds so difficult to manage is the underground structures the weed uses to reproduce, namely stolons, rhizomes, tubers or bulbs. These underground structures serve as energy storage for the plant from year to year. While annuals will put all their energy into flower and seed production the first year, perennials will save a portion of that energy for following years. This energy storage also makes mechanical control difficult. When a perennial weed is mowed the weed has energy reserves with which to grow new flowering shoots or at the very least continue to increase energy stores with the remaining foliage. If a perennial weed is pulled it will most often re-grow unless ALL of the underground root structures are removed, which is really difficult to do.

With the efficacy of cultural and mechanical controls being limited the best option for perennial weed control will be a systemic herbicide. Contact herbicides will kill the top of the plant and leave the root system untouched. Systemic herbicides will be translocated through the root system, including the underground root structures, to kill the whole plant.





Weed Biology Part 2 : Stages of Growth

Last week we covered the differences between monocots and dicots. (If you missed it, click here.) The next step to effective weed management is to be able to understand and identify the four different stages of growth. The effectiveness of pesticide applications will vary depending on the phase of the growth cycle. Since the purpose of this series is to talk about weed biology, I’ve focused on the life cycle of weeds which can differ from turf and ornamental plants. Most weeds are annuals which we’ll cover in more detail next week.

Phase 1: Seedling

As you might guess, the seedling phase is when all plants (weeds and desirable plants alike) are the most tender. Seedling are the infants of the plant world. Seedlings have immature root and shoot systems. The water and nutrient content of the soil needs to be almost perfect. Any disturbance in the root system will be highly detrimental if not fatal. A pesticide application can be severely detrimental to seedlings even if the pesticide is not an herbicide. Mechanical controls are also highly effective in managing seedlings. When using mechanical controls take care not to damage any seedlings of the desirable plants, for example turf.

Phase 2: Vegetative

During the vegetative stage weeds go through an enormous amount of growth. This is the pre-teen/teenagers of the plant world. Weeds in the vegetative stage are taking up as much water and nutrients as their roots can find. This is why dandelions appear to spring into existence almost overnight. The number of stems and roots increase rapidly during this phase making weeds a little harder to pull by hand. However, since the weed is actively growing, any systemic pesticide applied will be moved through the plant quite rapidly. Non-selective systemic herbicides will be highly effective during this phase of growth.

Phase 3: Flowering/Seed Production

By the time the weed reaches the flowering/seed production phase it will have reached “full size” and has started directing energy toward flower and seed production. Weeds in this phase are the young adults of the plant world. Water and nutrients taken up are directed toward flower and seed production instead of shoot and root growth. The effectiveness of herbicide applications will be slower if not overall less effective than at the seedling or vegetative phase in the plant’s life. Systemic non-selective herbicides will still kill the whole plant, but it may take a week and a half or more instead of a few days.

Phase 4: Maturity

The final phase of weed growth is maturity. They’ve germinated, grown, flowered, and set seed. They’re done. There is very little, if any, weed growth during this phase. Demand for water and nutrients is very small, and there is very little energy production. Annual weeds have reached the end of their lifecycle and will die, biennial and perennial weeds will enter a dormant period. Herbicides applied at this phase will be largely ineffective. With no demand for water or nutrients the herbicide will remain localized in the leaf.

Understanding the lifecycle of weeds and being able to identify each stage of lifecycle is an important skill for turf and ornamental managers. Pesticides are an effective tool in the never-ending battle with weeds like dandelions, but knowing when to apply pesticides will save time, money, product, and help keep pesticides out of the environment.

For more information on weed management in turf or ornamental situations, check out the following courses:

IPM for Turf Management

IPM for Ornamental Plant Pest Management

Common Turfgrass Weeds

Common Ornamental Plant Pests


Weed Biology Part 1 Monocot Vs. Dicot

Monocot vs Dicot: What’s the difference and why does it matter?

Weed management can be a difficult task for turf and ornamental managers. Sometimes our mechanical or cultural controls like mowing or mulching fail to control the weeds and our client isn’t happy. It’s important that turf and ornamental managers have a working knowledge of the weeds common to their region. Over the next several weeks we’re going to take a look at weed biology. Our first installment: monocots vs dicots.

What is a cotyledon?

A cotyledon is an embryonic leaf in seed-bearing plants. There are usually one or two cotyledons for most weeds and the cotyledons either contain or have access to stored food the seedling will need before it can produce its first true leaves. Plants with one cotyledon are called monocots and plants with two cotyledons are called dicots. In most cases the cotyledon in monocots, for example corn, will stay at or below ground level. When corn is planted, the kernel of corn doesn’t come up out of the ground, it stays below the soil surface. The cotyledon transfers the energy stores in the endosperm of the seed to the growing plant. Conversely, the cotyledons in dicots, a green bean for example, not only serve as energy stores for the new plant but will push up out of the ground and photosynthesize before the first true leaves emerge.

Monocot vs Dicot

The difference in the number of cotyledons is only the beginning of the differences between these two types of plants. Differences include venation patterns, vascular bundle arrangements, roots systems and flower anatomy.

In monocots like grass, corn, or daffodils, the veins in the leaves run parallel to each other along the length of the leaf or stem. The vascular bundles are usually arranged in a complex pattern and the root system is pretty fibrous. The flower structures in monocots are arranged in multiples of three.

In dicots like green beans, woodsorrel, and most woody trees and plants, the veins in the leaves form a complex, netlike system. Instead of running from one end of the leaf to the other, the veins will branch off one central vein to form a network. The vascular bundles in dicots will usually be arranged in a ring. These rings are most easily seen in trunks of trees. The root systems in dicots will usually have a primary taproot. Of course plants adapt as well as they can to the site they’re planted in, so dicots planted in extremely compacted soil may not have a well developed taproot. Lastly, the flower structures in dicots are arranged in multiples of four or five.

Growing Points

The last obvious difference between monocots and dicots is the location of the growing points. In monocots, the growing point is at or just below the soil surface and is often protected by a sheath. In dicots, there are multiple growing points which are located at the end of every stem.

The different locations in growing points is what allows turf weeds to be managed by consistent mowing. The growing point in turf is at the soil surface and is not damaged by consistent mowing. However, the growing points on weeds like bittercress or wood sorrel are above the soil surface. Consistent mowing means consistent removal of growing points for the weed.

Pesticide Use

Understanding the difference between monocots and dicots is also important when selecting a pesticide as part of an integrated pest management program. Non-selective herbicides aren’t usually the best choice when managing weeds in a turf stand, unless of course the intent is to wipe out all things green and begin again. Turf managers who need to manage broadleaved weeds (dicots) within their turf stand will want to apply a selective herbicide. 2,4-D is a great example of a selective herbicide. While applied to all vegetation in a turf stand, grasses inactivate 2,4-D while broadleaf dicots do not, thus killing the dicots while leaving the turf unharmed (when applied within label rates).

However, landscape managers will want to avoid spraying 2,4-D on planting beds as the herbicide will harm the desired plant. Landscape managers will want to select an herbicide that will kill the monocot weed (usually grass) such as sethoxydim to control grasses that are invading the planting area.

Want to know more?

Choose your state from the drop down below and check out the following courses for more information on managing weeds in both turf and ornamental areas.

Common Turfgrass Weeds

Common Ornamental Plant Pests

Home Lawn and Landscape Management


Calling All Certified Crop Advisers!

Certified Training Institute is currently seeking instructors for our Certified Crop Adviser curriculum. This is a great opportunity to share your expertise with the more than 13,000 certified crop advisers across the United State, Mexico, and Canada.

Training topics needed include nutrient management, soil and water management, and crop management.

Certified Training Institute offers a competitive compensation program. For more information please contact Sarah Racine at 800-727-7104 or


Pesticide Applicators! Is Your Recertification Deadline Approaching?

Pesticide Applicators! Is your recertification deadline approaching?

It’s hard to believe, but the end of the year will be here before you know it. Many states require pesticide applicators to complete the required continuing education prior to December 31st. Get a jump on your requirements today!

Certified Training Institute offers state-approved continuing education courses that are available online from any internet enabled device - which means your classes are available when you are. Have a few minutes between client meetings? Why not watch a segment or two of a video course! Is the weather not cooperating with your planned applications? Take the day and knock out a couple hours of your required continuing education!

Choose your state below to view the available courses or call our office to speak with a licensing expert for help getting started! Use coupon code PST10 to save 10%! (Valid until 9/30/19)


Invasive or Non-native? What’s the difference?

Invasive plant species have been a hot topic in recent months. Everything from wild mustard to milfoil. But it wasn’t until I was at a city commission meeting with my daughter a few months ago that I realized that non-native seems to have become synonymous with invasive: there was some construction work that needed to be done and the contractor was wanting to have 60 year old Chinese Elm trees removed citing them as invasive.

As I was watching these city commissioners nod their heads in agreement while discussing the removal of these big beautiful trees I realized than many if not all of the commissioners weren’t aware of the difference between invasive plants and non-native plants.

So what is the difference between invasive plant species and non-native plant species? According to the Michigan Invasive Species home page, “An invasive species is one that is not native and whose introduction causes harm, or is likely to cause harm to Michigan’s economy, environment, or human health.”

The key words here are “causes harm.”

In Michigan, an invasive species that is getting a lot of attention right now is garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolate). Garlic mustard thrives in wooded areas and can tolerate deep shade, partly because it emerges and blooms before trees develop leaves in the spring. It’s choking out the native plants causing harm to the ecosystem.

Another invasive that’s getting a lot of attention is giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). The sap of the giant hogweed can cause a severe skin reaction that can cause the skin to blister when exposed to the sun. This invasive plant causes harm to humans.

Both of these plants are invasive.

However, let’s look at a well-known landscape plant – the hosta. Hostas are native to Asia. They have become a very popular plant for shaded plantings. They are non-native, but not invasive. Another example is purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) which is a popular plant for sunny locations and even has some medicinal properties. And while both of these examples are spreaders, they are not invaders as they cause no harm to surrounding ecosystems.

The short version is to remember that non-native does not equal invasive, select plants for the landscape that are best suited to each planting site, and consult your state’s invasive plant species list before planting.


Hope in the Fight Against the Spotted Lanternfly

Agricultural producers in Pennsylvania and surrounding states have been battling the Spotted Lanternfly since 2014. Management and control of this invasive species has been a major feat in the United States, and farmers in uninfected areas live with the fear that these hard to deal with bugs may move into their areas.

Since the first invasion of Spotted Lanternflies five years ago, scientists have been actively studying the creature and looking for ways to control them, however, results have been largely disappointing, and the lanternflies continue to spread.

These particular bugs have a highly varied diet, as they are able to subsist on over 70 plant species. They also are hard to keep contained to one area, as they will lay their eggs on any available surface. This leads to easy transmission from area to area, and despite quarantine efforts the lanternflies can now be found in five states throughout the northeastern United States.

However, according to Popular Science, researchers at Cornell University may have had a breakthrough recently. Two particular species of fungi, Batkoa major and Beauveria bassiana, may be farmer’s best hope for controlling Spotted Lanternfly populations.

The fungi seem to bog down the lanternflies—when infected with Batkoa major, the overgrowth of the fungus adheres the Spotted Lanternflies to trunks of trees, and when infected with Beauveria bassiana, the lanternflies are often found dead on the ground.

Scientists were at first baffled when agricultural officials began finding dead lanternflies covered with white fuzz.  DNA and culture tests were run on the fuzz, and it was found to be these fungi. Since these initial findings, scientists have begun looking into the possibility of utilizing one or both fungi as part of a pest management strategy to control the Spotted Lanternfly in other areas.

While more research must still be conducted, scientists are hopeful that these fungi will help reduce populations of the Spotted Lanternfly.


New Class for Delaware Pesticide Applicators

Check out this snippet from our new Delaware approved course-Respiratory Protection:

“Workers who need personal protective equipment are often very good at wearing types such as gloves, hard hats, hearing protection, etc, but can neglect respiratory protection. This is because while other hazards such as dropping a cement block on your foot or slicing your hand open are immediately noticeable in their damage, the damage done to your lungs from inhaling hazardous chemicals on a repeated, consistent basis is not immediately obvious. This type of hazard is known as a chronic safety hazard, which occurs over time, usually 20 to 30 years, before it becomes apparent. OSHA has its own standard dedicated to respiratory protection because this is such a large hazard to the health of workers.

There are three parts to the respiratory standard:

  • being trained on the respirator you are wearing on the job site
  • being approved to wear a respirator
  • must be fit tested

While the intention is good when employers hand out respirators to employees for job safety, it doesn't do much good if the employees are not trained on their proper use and care. Knowing how to wear the respirator correctly and keeping it in working order is critical.

Not everyone can wear a respirator. An MEQ, or medical questionnaire, must be filled out once a year and submitted to a doctor or a medical professional who can approve you to wear the respirator. This approval must be on file and filled out on work time. Since it contains your personal medical information, it must also be in a sealed file so your employer does not see what it contains. Most of the time workers can be approved to wear a respirator simply by filling out the MEQ, but sometimes the doctor will want to see them in person. If this is necessary, the worker will take a pulmonary test, which measures how well their lungs can handle the strain of wearing a respirator.

Fit testing is extremely important and must be performed once a year for each specific mask that you wear. Fit testing is different from a fit check, which is done every time you put your respirator on. When you have your respirator fit tested, you are making sure it is properly fitted to your face so you don't have a false sense of security when around respiratory hazards. A mask that is too loose or too tight will cause gaps to interrupt the seal, allowing those hazards to bypass the mask and defeating the purpose of wearing a respirator. There are two types of fit tests performed: quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative fit test measures the challenge agent outside the mask, and how much of the challenge agent is inside the mask. The qualitative measures the quality of challenge agent outside the mask, and is more common than the quantitative. Banana oil, Bitrex, or stannic chloride are all examples of challenge agents used in a qualitative fit test.

Fit tests should also be performed if there are significant changes to the shape of your face through things like gastric bypass surgery, scarring, or the removal of teeth.”

The sample text above is part of our brand-new two-part course on respirator safety, which is presented in full HD Video and is available 24/7 from the convenience of your computer or mobile device. Applicators with category 1C, 03, 04, and 7C endorsements can earn 1 credit with this course toward their continuing education requirements.

Click here to visit our Delaware Pesticide Applicator page and get your CE credits today!