Planting for Fall Color

Planting for Fall Color

Fall will soon be here, with it comes cooler weather, football, and the changing of color of many of our plants. For fall, there are a few plants that I always look to for a great show of color, this is a short list but there are many more plants for fall color.

Fall color is one of the reasons we all enjoy the season. The leaves turn from green to red, yellow, or orange in the fall due to the pigments present in the leaves. During the spring and summer months, green chlorophyll is the dominant pigment in leaves and this hides the other pigments from view. In the fall, the production of chlorophyll slows down and eventually stops altogether to allow the other pigments to show up in our leaves. The different conditions we see each fall affects the how much and how vivid the colors are in the fall, which is why some years we have better fall color than others. Clear days, cool nights, and dry conditions in the fall promote high quality fall color, according to Iowa State University.

Garden mums or Chrysanthemums are wonderful for fall color. They bloom in August and September in colors such as purple, pink, orange, yellow, white, coral, and deep burgundy or red. They need to be pinched back 2-3 times in June until Independence Day to ensure that they bloom properly in the fall. Some mums have low winter hardiness due to repeated freezing and thawing throughout our winters. If this occurs, add extra mulch around the plants before winter, cut the plants back in the spring rather than in the fall, and discontinue fertilization by the end of July.

Shagbark hickory, flickr, Nicholas A. Tonelli

Shagbark Hickory photo from Nicholas A. Tonelli via Flickr Creative Commons License

Shagbark Hickory is one of my favorite trees that are underutilized in Nebraska. In the fall this tree turns a brilliant golden-yellow color to help enrich your fall landscape color. The shaggy bark appearance that the older trees grow into is another unique characteristic of this tree. This is a native plant to the region so it will withstand the constantly changing weather that is typical of Nebraska. Also, because it is a hickory tree, it produces a tasty, edible nut that is similar to hickory nuts, making it a great tree choice for nut production and for wildlife.

Burning Bush- 4

Burning Bush in Fall Color

Burning Bush is a terrific large shrub choice for most any landscape. This is a type of shrub that can grow up to 20 feet tall, but there is a compact version that grows up to 10 feet tall. It has a deep glossy green leaf throughout the spring and summer but in the fall it turns a bright red color or pink in shady locations. One problem with Burning Bush, however, is that it is a plant that is susceptible to scale insect. Scale can be controlled when in the crawler stage, typically in the early spring, with an insecticidal soap or Horticulture oil.

There are also a lot of great oak trees that can be planted for great fall color. Red and white oaks turn red in the fall. Bur Oaks turn a yellow color in the fall. Shumard oak is another great oak tree that has reliable red fall color. Oak trees are a great tree choice for Nebraska and their fall color just makes them that much better. They are well adapted for most of the conditions we face in Nebraska and can typically withstand drought conditions fairly well. Plus, their acorns are a huge draw for wildlife for those who enjoy to view deer, squirrels, and other wildlife.

Grasshoppers!!

Grasshopper via Mark Robinson,Flickr

Photo of a Grasshopper from Mark Robinson via Flickr Creative Commons License

This year has been quite warm and fairly dry. We have been lucky to have received the rain that we did see come through in July after such a dry June. However, that warm, dry weather has lead to an increase in grasshopper populations this year. These grasshoppers have been a large problem in our lawns and gardens.

Grasshoppers can be a problem in grassy areas and in our gardens. They will feed on flowers and some vegetables such as lettuce, beans, and sweet corn under normal situations. However, in situations where the population is high, like this year, they can be found feeding on nearly all vegetables and in some cases even trees and shrubs. They can even be found eating paper, paint, and window screens. On our plants, you will notice a high number of grasshoppers as well as the chewed appearance of the leaves, fruits, and flowers of many of our plants.

Grasshoppers are often reduced in population due to the environment during their developmental period of life. If we have cool, wet weather right after they hatch from their eggs, typically in early to mid-May, this will help reduce the populations. The nymphs are vulnerable to death due to starvation in the early development of their lives. In most years, we face a fairly wet, cool May that helps reduce the population of grasshoppers, but this year that did not happen, so our populations are high.

Grasshoppers can be managed fairly well. There are some good cultural and mechanical practices that can help as well as some use of chemicals in other locations.

Keeping overgrown grassy areas mowed and/or tilled will help reduce the sites where grasshoppers prefer to lay their eggs, therefore helping to reduce the population. It may also help to leave some of the border areas of a large yard, especially in an acreage setting, unmowed so that the grasshoppers will stay in the unmowed areas of the lawn and not move as quickly into the lawn and garden areas. You may also plant some trap crops, such as zinnias or other flowers in these border areas to attract grasshoppers to these plants instead of your lawn or garden.

For chemical control, it is best to treat grasshoppers when they are young. Once grasshoppers become full grown adults, they have a decreased susceptibility to insecticides and they are larger which also makes them harder to control with insecticides. With all insects, management is much more effective if insecticides are applied at a younger age for the insects to be controlled.

illinois bundleflower

Look for areas along the roadsides for spraying where eggs are deposited.

When applying insecticides for grasshoppers, first concentrate the sprays on the roadsides and ditches where grasshoppers lay their eggs to get them when they first emerge from the eggs. Then you can focus on the lawn and garden areas. In the vegetable garden, be sure to use insecticides that are labeled for use in the vegetable garden such as sevin or eight and follow the PHI. The PHI is the amount of days to wait to harvest after spraying has been done. Most any general insecticide can be used in locations not in the vegetable garden including sevin, eight, or malathion, just make sure the label has grasshoppers and the area to be treated on it and it will work.

The information for this article came from the NebGuide: A Guide to Grasshopper Control in Yards and Gardens by Gary Hein Extension Entomologist, John Campbell Extension Entomologist, & Ron Seymour Extension Educator.

Yard and Garden: August 5, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for August 5, 2016. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through August 5, 2016. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Graham Herbst, Community Forester Specialist with the Nebraska Forest Service

If you enjoy reading my Q&A from the show each week, take my quick survey at: http://go.unl.edu/9b24 and be entered to win a free plant book or some free UNL gifts.

1. The first question of the day was a walk-in client wondering what the weird structures in his yard were?

A. These would be fungal formations. The one that popped open is a puffball and the other is a type of mushroom. Neither of these are edible, they are both poisonous. They will develop in a yard from decaying roots of old or removed trees. They can be removed manually if you would like or they will go away on their own.

2016-08-05 10.14.05

Puffball on the left, Mushroom on the right

2. A caller has a small tree that is leaning that looks like a palm tree, what is it and why is it leaning?

A. After visiting the home after the show, it was determined that the tree was a sumac. It is leaning because that is the growth habit of a sumac. They tend to form a colony and lean every direction for sunlight.

3. A caller has a zucchini plant that just all of a sudden started dying off. Is this plant just done for the year or can something else be wrong with it?

A. This is probably due to squash vine borer. There is no way to fix the problem once it has gotten to the point of wilt and death. When you remove the plant, cut open the stalk to see the borer caterpillar. For the remaining plants use sevin, eight, or bifenthrin at the base of the plants to reduce the chances of those plants getting the borer as well. You can also wrap the base of the plant with aluminum foil or a toilet paper tube to protect it from borers laying eggs to bore into the plants.

4. A caller has cedar trees that have pine cone structures all over them that are killing the trees. What are these and how can they be controlled?

A. Those would be bagworms. At this time of the year it is too late to control them as their feeding has greatly reduced and possibly stopped for the year. Once they are in their bag the sprays cannot penetrate the bags to get to them so there is no need to spray now. Pick off and destroy all the bags you can get to and next spring watch for them sooner to spray at the correct time of the year.

Bagworm4

Bagworm

5. With bagworms, will sevin work for spraying them?

A. Yes. Sevin, eight, bifenthrin, tempo, malathion, or bT are all good insecticides to use when the bagworms are actively feeding.

6. A caller has wild cucumber growing on trees. How can this be controlled?

A. This weed has shallow roots and will pull out easily. You can treat with a herbicide, but not as a spray because that would harm or even kill the tree it is growing on. You can paint roundup on the leaves to help control it.

7. This caller has a mature maple tree that has mushrooms growing in the center of it. Can it survive?

A. It is best to manage the trees shape throughout the life of the tree to help it from having to have large branches removed. At this point there is no way to fix the hole and decay that have already begun. If the tree is in a location that it will not hit structures or people it can be left up longer, but it would be best to have a certified arborist come take a look at it to determine if the tree is safe to stand or needs to be removed.

8. A caller has a tree that the roots were exposed during work on the house nearby and then the roots were covered back up. Now, there are a lot of tree suckers coming up throughout the lawn. Can Tordon be used to control these?

A. Tordon is not labeled for use in a landscape setting. Also, using any type of insecticide on the suckers could harm or even kill the main tree. Since these suckers are all growing in the lawn, it would be best to just continually mow them off. The suckers appeared because the tree was stressed from the construction around the roots. Sucker stop can be used to slow the growth of the suckers but not completely eliminate them.

9. An email question was asked how to control locusts that are taking over a pasture?

A. Grazon is a good choice for pastures as a full foliage treatment during June. You can cut the stump and do a basal treatment anytime. Another choice would include Dicamba or a Trimec product that contains dicamba.

10. Another email question came in with a cottonwood tree that has brown tips on the leaves and lots of ants on the tree. Are the ants causing the problem? Can this be controlled?

A. The brown tips could be from sunscald which is due to the heat and drought we have faced lately. Aphids are probably also present on the tree which would bring the ants in to feed on their honeydew excretions. The ants are not harmful to the tree. The aphids are not causing much of a problem. Control measures are not necessary. Mulch the tree and water it to help with sunscald.

11. A caller from Iowa has hostas that were variegated in the leaves for the past 20+ years and now the leaves are solid green. What is causing this?

A. This is called reversion. The plant is a hybrid or cultivar that has reverted back to the original plant or parent plant with solid green leaves. It will not turn back into the variegated form.

12. A caller wanted to know why windbreaks and trees along creeks are being removed?

A. Sometimes the trees get old and start to become a hazard after they die. It also allows for more farming areas. These windbreaks are beneficial to wildlife, insects, and soil microbes and to help reduce water pollution from pesticide and fertilizer runoff.

13. The last caller of the 2016 season wanted to know when to transplant clematis, iris, peony, spirea, and general perennials?

A. all of these can be transplanted in the fall. Wait until mid to late September before doing this to get through the hot, dry weather. Could be done in the spring with some of these as well, but fall would be great.

Thanks for all of the great questions on the show and for reading the blog posts! I look forward to another great season of Yard and Garden Live in 2017!! Keep reading my blog for other great updates on keeping your yards and gardens “Green and Growing”!

Harvesting from your Garden

Harvesting from garden

I love this time of the year, not because of the extreme heat, but because my garden is beginning to produce large quantities of vegetables for my family to enjoy in our meals and to preserve for the winter months. Sometimes it is hard to determine the best harvest time and use for the vegetables from a garden but here are a few tips to remember.

Tomatoes are a great choice for a vegetable garden. They can be preserved in so many ways to be enjoyed throughout the entire winter. The anticipation for our tomatoes to begin to ripen is difficult, but once they begin, they grow strong. This year we have had to wait a little longer than normal for our tomatoes to begin to produce. Due to the high heat in June, poor pollination occurred.

For harvesting tomatoes, it is best to wait until the tomato is firm and colored correctly for the particular variety you are growing. Make sure you know what you planted to know what color they should be. If the temperatures get too hot, they may soften if left on the vine until they are the correct color, when that occurs, it would be best to pick tomatoes early and allow them to ripen indoors.

Tomatoes stored in the refrigerator can only be stored fresh for 4-10 days. According to Alice Henneman, a Registered Dietician with Nebraska Extension, tomatoes can be frozen raw with or without the skins to be used in cooked recipes for months later. Tomatoes can also be processed into salsas, paste, sauce, and juice for storage and use later in the year in other forms.

2014-08-18 07.57.37

Salsa made from my garden

Zucchini is another great plant for your garden. Zucchini plants are easy to grow and will produce plenty of harvest for a family from only one or two plants. If you planted too many zucchini plants they are easy to store as well. Zucchini should be harvested when the fruit is young and tender and when your fingernail easily penetrates the rind. Most zucchini should be harvested when they are 1 ½ inches in diameter and 4 to 8 inches in length. Zucchini is easily missed and they are fast growing vegetables. If you have some zucchini harvest that is too large for grilling or slicing for other recipes or for freezing, you can use the large produce for baking. Remove the seeds and shred what is left for use in many baking activities like zucchini bread or muffins. Fresh zucchini can be stored in the fridge for 5-14 days.

Peppers should be harvested when they are firm and full sized. If it is a red, yellow, or orange variety, they need to be left on the plant for an additional 2-3 weeks for coloration to occur. Peppers can be frozen for consumption later in uncooked foods or in cooked foods. Fresh peppers can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 weeks if handled properly.

Cucumbers should be harvested when they have grown to the size that is best for the use and the size determined by the variety. If you are using the cucumber for a sweet pickle or for baby dill pickles you would want the cucumbers to be 1 ½ to 2 inches long. If you are using them for regular dill pickles it is best to pick them at 3-4 inches in length. For fresh slicing cucumbers harvest when they are 7 to 9 inches long. It is best to harvest daily and harvest cucumbers before they get too large with large seeds inside. Cucumbers can be used fresh for 10-14 days.

The harvest information for this article came from the NebGuide: When to Harvest Fruits and Vegetables by Sarah Browning, Lancaster County Extension Educator. The freezing guidelines came from food.unl.edu

 

Yard and Garden: July 15, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 15, 2016. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through August 5, 2016. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Julie Albrecht, Professor in Health and Nutrition Science

If you enjoy reading my Q&A from the show each week, take my quick survey at: http://go.unl.edu/9b24 and be entered to win a free plant book or some free UNL gifts.

1. The first caller of the day wanted to know how to control corn earworm in his sweet corn?

A. The best option would be for next year, because at this stage it is too late to control them if you are already harvesting. It would be best to choose a resistant variety so chemicals won’t be necessary. You can spray for the earworm, but it should only be done twice per season with carbaryl (Sevin) and it should be sprayed on the silks where the eggs are. There will not be much control this late in the season since the earworms are already there.

2. A caller has green beans that are blooming but they are not setting on. What would cause this?

A. This could be due to poor pollination due to low amount of insect activity in the high temperatures. If pollination doesn’t occur soon, you could hand pollinate the plants by using a q-tip to touch the pollen of male flowers and then touch the stigma of the female flowers. It could also be that the flowers present are all male flowers and then it will just take time for the female flowers to appear.

3. This caller noticed that they have a lot of grasshoppers in their flowers. What can they do to control them?

A. Any general insecticide will work on grasshoppers. Sevin, eight, tempo, malathion, etc will work on flowers. Also be sure to spray the ditches and roadsides where grasshoppers are common. If grasshoppers are in the vegetable garden only use chemicals labeled for use in the vegetable garden and watch the PHI for when you are able to harvest after applying chemicals.

4. A caller has acorn squash in his garden. Recently, one of the plants all of a sudden died, the leaves turned brown and it got wilty. He is watering all of the plants the same and only one plant looks like this. What would cause that?

A. This is probably due to squash vine borer. There is no way to fix the problem once it has gotten to the point of wilt and death. When you remove the plant, cut open the stalk to see the borer caterpillar. For the remaining plants use sevin, eight, or bifenthrin at the base of the plants to reduce the chances of those plants getting the borer as well. You can also wrap the base of the plant with aluminum foil or a toilet paper tube to protect it from borers laying eggs to bore into the plants.

squash vine borer damage

5. How long should you boil green beans when processing them and do they need to be cut to certain lengths when processing?

A. Green beans can be used whole or cut to any desired length. For processing, boil in a pressure canner at 11 pounds pressure for a dial gauge or 10 pounds pressure for a weighted gauge canner. They should be boiled for 20 minutes for pint jars and 25 minutes for quart jars. If you are blanching the green beans for freezing, they should be boiled for 3 minutes and then immediately placed in cold water prior to placing in freezer bags for freezer storage. For more information on processing foods, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation at: http://nchfp.uga.edu/

6. Why is it not safe to can in an oven?

A. The jars can explode and that can cause the glass on the door of the oven to explode as well. There are no recommendations regarding length of time to can in the oven because there is no way to determine how hot the center of the jar is. It is important to ensure that all of the contents of the jar get to the correct temperature for proper, safe canning practices.

7. A caller is growing tomatoes in feed barrels, the leaves are curled up. Is this due to a soil nutrient issue or what could be causing this, he waters every other day with a hose until the water runs out the drainage holes in the barrels?

A. This could be due to physiological leaf curl. This condition often appears as spring weather gives way to hot, dry summer conditions. Plants often put on large amounts of foliage growth in the spring and they don’t have enough roots to provide sufficient water to support the plant as the weather gets hotter and drier. Plants cope with this water issue by rolling their leaves. The older leaves are usually affected first. Leaves roll upward toward the center mid-vein, without any deformation or twisting. Plant leaves may recover and unroll if the stress is alleviated. Harvest yield is not affected.

8. This caller has heard an old saying that you should put your corn into a brown paper sack before putting it into the freezer for freezing corn on the cob. Is this true?

A. This wouldn’t do anything for the corn. Just make sure that you use a freezer bag for anything you freeze and that you only put it one layer deep until it has all frozen through to get it to freeze faster and help the shelf life of the product.

9. A caller wanted to know how to tell when peaches are ripe?

A. The red coloration is not a good sign for peaches now due to new peach varieties with a lot of red coloration in the skin color. It is best to just pick a few when they are getting close to being mature and try the flavor. You don’t want to pick the fruits before they are ripe as the sugar content will be low. When the base color has turned from green to full yellow they should be mature.

10. The final caller of the day has a tree that he transplanted from a construction site. When it was moved, the roots were slightly damaged and the top of the tree broke out. It lost all of its leaves when it was planted in the new location in late May, but now has new growth on the ends of the branches. Will this tree survive?

A. Give it time, the fact that there is growth on the ends of the branches is hopeful. The tree would have lost apical dominance when it lost the top of the tree. Use a wooden dowel and some masking tape to try to start a new leader. The root damage may not be evident on the tree for 10-15 years so you won’t know for a while if it will survive from the root damage. Keep watering the tree every other day for 20-30 minutes during this year and add a mulch ring that is 2-3 inches deep and 2-3 feet wide around the trunk of the tree.

 

Yard and Garden: July 8, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 8, 2016. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through August 5, 2016. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Dr. Paul Read, Viticulture Specialist for Nebraska Extension with Guest Intern Vivian from China

If you enjoy reading my Q&A from the show each week, take my quick survey at: http://go.unl.edu/9b24 and be entered to win a free plant book or some free UNL gifts.

1. The first caller of the day wanted to know if they can prune the Cleveland Pear tree that has branches that are low and too tight to the trunk?

A. The best time for pruning a tree like this would be while it is dormant. For a situation like this where the caller is only removing a few branches to help with the growth of the branches and to reduce future problems with the tight branch arrangement it would be fine to remove them now. It would be better to remove branches like this before they break in a storm due to weak attachment to the trunk.

2. A caller has Anjou pear trees that were planted in 2013. Now the bark from the graft union up about 10-12 inches has the bark peeling and now has some black leaves. What would cause this?

A. This would be from sunscald. There is no way to fix sunscald once it occurs. Don’t paint the wound with anything, allow it to heal itself. The black leaves could be due to fireblight. You can cut 6-8 inches past the diseased portion of the limb to cut the fireblight off the tree. The black could also be anthracnose which is not damaging to the plant and there is no need to spray anything for anthracnose.

sunscald-bugwood

Sunscald Photo by William Jacobi, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

3. This caller has an oak tree that is dripping sap on the vehicles parked under it. What would cause this?

A. Aphids feeding on the leaves of trees will excrete honeydew that can drip on vehicles underneath the tree. Aphids are not very damaging and have a lot of predatory insects that feed on them. They can be sprayed with sevin or eight or another general insecticide, but they should fade out on their own with predator insects.

4. A caller has blue spruce trees that look dirty but the tips are still green. What would cause this?

A. This is most likely due to environmental stress from the heat and humidity. If the ends of the branches are still green, the tree will be fine. Make sure your tree has a mulch ring around it and that you keep it well watered in the heat of the summer.

5. This caller has a patch of lilies where a quarter of the patch has only grown to be about 6 inches tall for the past 2 years. The rest of the patch looks good, but this area doesn’t look healthy. Can these be improved?

A. This could be due to hardiness in some varieties that are only suitable for our environment for a couple of years. It also could be due to some bulb mites. It would be a good idea to dig up some of the bulbs to see if they have any damage on the bulbs.

6. A caller has a pine tree with a lot of sap on the branches and the grass in the lawn won’t green up. Why is this?

A. Woodpeckers or insects feeding on a pine tree can cause sap to leak from the wounds left behind. The insects can be controlled with bifenthrin or permethrin (eight). If it is woodpeckers, the damage is minimal and will not cause any problems to the tree. Check how much water the lawn is actually receiving by using catch cans during the water intervals normally followed. Lawns need 1 1/2 inches of water per week. If the water is fine, there are a lot of fungal diseases in the lawn, it could be one of those. Fungal diseases in the home lawn are usually sporadic and therefore don’t require fungicide applications.

7. This caller lives on an acreage surrounded by farmground. She is considering growing grapes on this large plot of land. Are grapes easy to grow and would grapes have a benefit to the wildlife in the area?

A. Grapes are a large commitment, especially if you plan to sell products from them. You can be successful with only a few plants for the family to use for grape production. A few good choices for this area would include Frotenac or Valiant. The first year the grapes would need extra care, but after that they would be more self-sustaining. Deer will feed on the foliage. If you decide to grow your grapes for commercial use, register  your acreage with the driftwatch website at  www.fieldwatch.com to help avoid problems from drift since grapes are very sensitive to drift damage.

8. A caller has strawberries that were planted and now have very small fruits and the plants are not making runners.

A. Everbearing strawberries are typically very small for fruit size. You might try planting some newer varieties that are June bearing to get larger fruits. Some good choices would include honeoye or albion or sparkle.

9. This caller has an ash tree that is 7 years old and the tree snapped off in the wind. There is mold in the trunk and it is suckering. What can be done to plant a new tree?

A. You can get a company to come in and grind out the stump or rent a stump grinder to do it yourself. The suckers that keep growing back will continue to for a few years, they can be cut out and treated with a roundup or 2,4-D product. You can plant a new tree within just a few feet of the old tree, since this wasn’t a very large tree yet.

10. A facebook photo came in with a odd structure that appeared by a tree. What is this?

A. This would be a stinkhorn fungus. They are not harmful to the plants growing in the area. There is not control other than mechanical removal of the fungus. Do not eat these as they are not edible, they would be a poisonous mushroom.

DSCN6327

Stinkhorn Fungus

11. The last caller of the day has tomatoes in a raised bed. When they ripen for harvest, the end of the tomato seems blighted. What would cause this?

A. This is blossom end rot. It is a calcium deficiency that develops in our plants in drought situations because calcium is only available to plants after it has been dissolved in water. There is no control for this, it should only last for a few weeks early in the growing season and then the plants should grow out of it.

Problems in the Garden

Now that summer is in full swing, our gardens should be growing well now. It is at this time of the year when we always tend to see many different diseases and environmental conditions on our vegetable garden plants.

blossom end rot zucchini

A zucchini developing with blossom end rot

One of the most common problems we see early in the growing season is blossom end rot. This is an environmental condition where the end of the fruit that is not attached to the plant begins to rot away. It starts as a flat, dry, sunken brown rot on the blossom end of the fruits. Gray mold can occur in this rotten spot of the fruit, as it progresses. Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency while producing fruit. In Nebraska, there is rarely a lack of calcium in the soil, but calcium needs to be dissolved in water to be absorbed into the plant, so, it often occurs in conditions of dry soil. Blossom end rot can occur in tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, or watermelons.

Drought stress, low daytime humidity, high temperatures, and rapid vine growth favor blossom end rot. Applying calcium to the soil or to the plant is not beneficial. It is best to just maintain consistently moist but not saturated soil. It will also help to use organic mulch near the base of plants to keep the soils moist. Often the first ripe fruits are affected and later produce is fine. Remove infected fruits at the beginning of the season and later ripening fruits should not be affected.

Scorch is another problem we often see in the summer months, especially when the temperatures range as high as it has been recently and rain is scarce. Currently scorch has been found on bean plants. When scorch appears on our plants the edges of the leaves will turn brown and papery. Wilting and leaf scorch can be reduced with regular watering during prolonged dry periods. Mulching around the base of plants will hold moisture in the soil.

Squash bugs and squash vine borer are seen in our gardens every year. With squash bugs, we will see yellow speckling on the leaves and feeding damage can appear on the fruits. You may also see rusty colored eggs on the underside of the leaves that can be removed and destroyed. With Squash Vine Borer, rapid death and wilting of the plants will occur, once they are found in our plants, there is no cure.. These pests feed on plants in the cucurbit family, which includes zucchini, squash, cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers, pumpkins, gourds, etc. Squash vine borer can be controlled by wrapping the stem of your plants with aluminum foil or a toilet paper or paper towel tube to stop the females from laying their eggs on your plants. Other controls include Carbaryl (Sevin), Permethrin (Eight), or bifenthrin (Bifen), or Bt for the squash vine borer. This will need to be reapplied every 10-14 days throughout the growing season. It is best to switch between at least two of these products to avoid resistance from developing. Always follow the label recommended rates and follow the pre-harvest interval listed on the label when harvesting fruits and vegetables after using chemicals. Spray the undersides of the leaves and the base of the plant thoroughly. All sprays should be done later in the evening to avoid damage to bees and other pollinators.

The information for this article came from Nebraska Extension’s Hort Update. This is a monthly news column covering seasonal information for Nebraska’s green industry professionals. It is produced monthly throughout the year by Nebraska Extension Educators from across the state. You can subscribe to this newsletter by going to hortupdate.unl.edu and selecting “subscribe” from the top tabs. You can also get there from the Gage County Horticulture Page from gage.unl.edu

Yard and Garden: July 1, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 1, 2016. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through August 5, 2016. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Bob Henrickson, Assistant Director of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

1. The first caller of the day wants to use weed fabric and white rocks around the foundation of his house. Is this a good idea?

A. This can be done, but as horticulturists, Bob and I are always for more greenspace and less rocks. The weed fabric will work for a short time but often weeds will germinate through or on top of the fabric and it is hard to remove or change after the fabric is in. A good option would be to plant shrubs and perennials in there to help hide the foundation to the siding. Wood chip mulches will help with weed control around the plants.

2. A caller has a problem with ground squirrels in their lawn.

A. a trap can be built to control ground squirrels. The Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management has a good guide for 13-lined ground squirrels.

3. A caller has bees in their sand play area. What can be done about it?

A. The best control for this would be to cover the sandbox so the bees cannot burrow into the sand to build their nest. If this can’t be done, you can sprinkle a little sevin in the holes where the bees go to nest. This is not the best option if you have kids playing in the sand because the chemical would not be safe for that. Otherwise, spraying the sandbox with water or soapy water will deter and possibly kill the bees.

4. This caller has a bald cypress tree that had lacebugs last spring. This year it hasn’t leafed out on the branches, most of the leaves are on the trunk. What can be done for this tree?

A. Removal and replacement. When a tree only leafs out on the trunk there is some reason that the flow of water and nutrients is not going through the whole tree. This could be due to borers or some type of root issue. Even with trees that are 8 years old, they could have had a root injury or been planted too deeply or had a stem girdling root that is now causing death of the tree. There is no cure for this at this point in the trees life.

5. A caller has a new lawn that they are trying to rejuvenate. What would the process be?

A. They are watering 2 times a week with a sprinkler for a couple of hours at a time, this should be sufficient. Stick with what you have been doing and don’t abruptly reduce it. Fertilize with the holidays: Arbor Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Halloween. So at this point don’t fertilize until the fall. Fertilizing in hot weather can cause more stress or leaf burn. For weed control, use crabgrass pre-emergent in the spring with the Arbor Day fertilization and use 2,4-D in the fall.

6. What to do when planting a tree that is badly rootbound?

A. It is hard to fix a tree when the roots are already rootbound. Once they begin to grow in a circular pattern, they will continue to do that for life, and damage doesn’t always show up until the tree is 10-15 years old. It is best to look at the roots before purchasing to choose a smaller tree with healthy roots. Also, when you get it home, remove the excess topsoil from the top of the rootball to ensure that it gets planted at the correct depth.

7. An email question came in to ask what to do for stump removal where they cut down and removed some shrubs?

A. Keep cutting the suckers off as they regrow and mulch the area if you just want to be rid of the plants. If you want to replant into the area, you will have to remove the stumps by digging them out or using a stump grinder to grind them out. Do not use Tordon in this area as it is against label regulations and it will not speed up the process and it can kill other desirable plants.

8. A caller has a firethorn plant with spidermites that they see on the plant every year and it causes them to loose many leaves each year. What can be done for them?

A. A strong stream of water will often work for spidermites. If the population is too high you will have to use insecticidal soaps. If this is an annual occurrence you may want to remove these shrubs and replace them with something that isn’t so problematic in this area.

9. What do you do for sandburs?

A. Sandburs are an annual grass, so crabgrass pre-emergent herbicides in the spring will help reduce the population by stopping germination. At this point in the year you can use a post-emergent grass herbicide such as Drive. Keep the area mowed to reduce the seed production for next year.

10. A caller has honeysuckle that is now invasive through his yard. What can be done to eliminate the honeysuckle plants? Also, is hickory a good tree for Nebraska? Why don’t we see hickory trees planted more?

A. Continual cutting of the honeysuckle will eventually kill it. You may want to try to dig up the plant to help reduce the problem. You can also treat the stump with roundup and/or 2,4-D. Use 2,4-D products in the spring or fall, it is now too hot to use this product without possible damage to desirable plants. Hickory is a great tree for Nebraska, it is just underutilized. Good hickory tree choices for Nebraska include Shagbark Hickory, Bitternut, and King Nut. Shagbark Hickory was the Great Plants of the Great Plains Tree of the Year Selection in 2011.

 

Japanese Beetle, 7-16 Acreage

Japanese Beetle adult on the left and immature on the right. Photos by Jim Kalisch, UNL Entomology.

11. A walk-in listener brought in a green beetle to be identified.

A. This is a Japanese Beetle. It is identified by the green metallic color, gold elytra, and white spots along the sides of the abdomen. This is an invasive insect from Japan that feeds on over 300 species of trees and shrubs, it favors roses and plants in the rose family. It will cause a skeletonization of the leaves as the adult feeds. As immatures they are a white grub that feeds on the roots of our turf. Management of white grubs in the turf will reduce the population. As adults, they can be controlled with general insecticides such as sevin, eight, bifenthrin, malation, or others. Don’t use insecticides on the flowers or flower buds to help with pollinator populations.

12. The final question of the day was from an email asking what chemicals do you use for bagworms?

A. Bagworms can be controlled with Bt, spinosad, sevin, eight, malathion, or tempo. The treatments need to be completed before the bags are smaller than 1/2 inch in length. You can also remove bags as they are seen and throw them into a bucket of soapy water to kill them without pesticides if you can reach them all.

Yard and Garden: June 24, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 24, 2016. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through August 5, 2016. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Jim Kalisch, Insect Diagnostician for UNL Extension

1. The first caller of the day has summer squash that grows about 3 inches long then they get soft and fall off of the plant. What would cause this?

A. This is probably blossom end rot. This is an environmental condition where the blossom end of the fruit of the plant rots, just as the name implies. This condition occurs often in the beginning of the season and will fade out later in the growing season. Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency in the fruit. In Nebraska, there is rarely a lack of calcium in the soil. Blossom end rot occurs when plants cannot pull calcium up quickly enough for developing tissues. Calcium must be dissolved in water to move within a plant, so dry soils can increase the problem.

2. A caller has tomatoes that the leaves are starting to curl up. They have buckets around the plants and each night they fill the bucket up with water. They also have white spots on the pumpkins. What is wrong with these plants and how can they be salvaged?

A. The water regime being followed is not the best practice. The buckets are holding a lot of heat in around the plants and filling each of these buckets every night is giving the plants a great deal of water. It would be best, this late in the season, to remove the buckets to reduce heat stress and use a sprinkler for a couple of hours or soaker hose for a few hours every other night to give the plants the right amount of water. The white spots on the pumpkins could be either powdery mildew or sunscald. Leave them alone, it should fade out and it will not cause a great deal of damage to the plants.

blossom end rot zucchini

The Zucchini on the left in this photo has blossom end rot

3. This caller has cucumbers and squash that the blossom end of them are rotting and then they fall off the vine. What would cause this?

A. This is blossom end rot. This is an environmental condition where the blossom end of the fruit of the plant rots, just as the name implies. This condition occurs often in the beginning of the season and will fade out later in the growing season. Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency in the fruit. In Nebraska, there is rarely a lack of calcium in the soil. Blossom end rot occurs when plants cannot pull calcium up quickly enough for developing tissues. Calcium must be dissolved in water to move within a plant, so dry soils can increase the problem.

4. A caller has peppers that had one bloom and now they are not setting any peppers on the plant. He fertilized it earlier this spring. What would cause this?

A. This would be due to low pollination. In this heat the insects are not moving around as much to pollinate. Give it time and the plants should begin blooming in a week or so.

5. This caller has a pin oak that the leaves are curled on the edges. What is wrong with this tree?

A. This could be from a gall gnat. This will cause the leaf margin to roll tightly. It could also be from herbicide drift. There is no control for either problem and the tree should outgrow both of these problems.

 

Stable Flies on Dog JAK140[1]

Stable Flies from the back of a Dog, Photo by Jim Kalisch, UNL Entomology

6. An email came in with the following question: The other day I found a fly on my dog’s head. When I went to grab it off, there was blood on her. Upon closer inspection, it looked more like a cross between a fly ad a bee. It’s triangle-shaped. What is it, how can I protect my dog?

A. This could be either a robber fly or a horse or deer fly or a stable fly. All of them can be kept at bay with fly repellent sprays or collars. These contain pyrethrins, essential oils and other ingredients not harmful to dogs. DEET is not advised for pets. It would be best if the dog owner to got information from a vet. Other tactics would be to reduce or eliminate fly breeding substrates, such as lawn clippings, pools of water, etc.

7. A caller planted string beans this year from both new and old seed. For some reason, the new seed seems to have more vigor even though they are planted right next to each other in the garden. Is it true that the new seed is more vigorous than the old seed?

A. Not necessarily. If the 2 plants were different varieties that would make a difference. Seed stored correctly should grow just fine for a few years after original sale. However, if the seed is stored in a location of high humidity or high temperatures, that can reduce the vigor in the seed.

8. This caller has a hanging basket of petunias. The buds on the plant are brown and full of black “balls”. She cut the plant back and put Sevin insecticide on it. What would cause this? Does she need to cut the buds off of the plant?

A. This is probably tobacco budworm. The black “balls” are probably fecal pellets from the caterpillar. Sevin may not be effective on this pest, so try Bt to kill only caterpillars and not harm any pollinators. Cut off the bloom to encourage new blooms to grow.

9. A caller has tomato plants that have grown to 4-6 feet tall. Now the leaves are curling and some are turning brown/black. What would cause this?

A. This caller has been using a hand wand to water at the base plant individually for a few minutes. This is not enough water for such large plants. It would be better to do a deep watering with the use of a soaker hose for about 4 hours 2-3 times per week or with a sprinkler for 1-2 hours 2-3 times per week if natural rains do not occur. Vegetables need about 1 inch of water per week for optimum growth. A little over that is fine, but we don’t want more than 2 inches, unless it comes as rain that we can’t control.

10. The final caller of the day has potatoes that were bored through the stem. What could that be and how can it be controlled? This caller also has green beans with yellow spots on the leaves and the beans are very curled rather than straight. What would cause this?

A. The potatoes have stalk borer. This insect pest should be about through with their damaging stage so there is no need to control it. As for the green beans, the leaves have a leaf spot fungus, there is no need to control it in a home garden, it should fade soon as the weather has warmed up and dried up. Remove these infected beans, that could be due to the hot weather that has caused a malformation in the growth of the beans, it should fade as the season continues on.

Mosquitoes and the Zika Virus

mosquito

Mosquitoes are a huge irritation in the summer months. Mosquitoes are a type of insect that is in the same order as flies, which means they are closely related to flies and gnats, which all tend to bother us. Mosquitoes are also vectors of many different diseases. Because of these factors, we need to do what we can to eliminate the problem and reduce mosquito populations.

The best way to avoid any pathogens transmitted by mosquitoes is to prevent being bitten. Like any pest management program, IPM is the strategy that works best to prevent mosquito bites at home in the yard. Sanitation is a must to eliminate breeding sites and harborage locations of mosquitoes. Female mosquitoes lay eggs on the surface of standing water and the larvae (“wigglers”) require water to survive before pupation. Removal of stagnant water in a variety of containers such as flowerpots, buckets, gutters, pool covers, used tires, and dog bowls will break the mosquito life cycle. A general rule is to dump any water that has been standing for more than five days.

Culex mosquitoes are active biters in the evening, so it is important to wear long sleeves and pants or permethrin-treated clothing when outdoors between dusk and dawn. The effective insect repellents applied to skin include those with the active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, or the oil of lemon eucalyptus.

As far as chemical control, Mosquito Dunks contain the active ingredient bacterium, Bacillus thurengiensis israelensis (Bti), which is toxic to mosquito larvae when consumed, but non-toxic to humans, pets, pollinators, fish, and other wildlife. They are sold in hardware stores, and will dissolve in standing water such as water troughs, fishponds, rain barrels, and birdbaths. They are effective immediately and can last for a month.

It is not recommend to use foggers or adulticide treatments by homeowners. These treatments are not effective for more than a couple of days and should only be used a few days ahead of a large outdoor get-together if absolutely necessary.

It is best to utilize IPM to reduce your exposure to mosquitoes because they spread many diseases including West Nile Virus and the Zika virus. Most people who get West Nile Virus have no symptoms or have flu-like symptoms. However, from 2001 to 2009 1,100 deaths in the U.S. were attributed to West Nile Virus. Most of the deaths occurred in people ages 65 and older.

As for the Zika Virus, it has been known about since 1947, but has just recently hit the news as it spreads more. Zika does appear to have minimal impacts on adult humans, but if a pregnant woman becomes infected, her fetus may suffer from developmental abnormatlities such as microcephaly. The good news is that the main mosquito that transmits Zika isn’t in Nebraska. The mosquito that most commonly transmits zika to humans is the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. Recently, a zika vector was found in Richardson County Nebraska, but this was Aedes albopictus, which has been found in Nebraska before and is the lesser of the Zika vectors. Aedes aegypti is the more competent vector as it feeds almost exclusively on people, according to Jonathan Larson, Nebraska Extension Entomologist. This summer, some counties will be trapping for mosquitoes in Nebraska to monitor for the presence of the mosquito that could carry Zika. We are not on high alert for Zika in Nebraska, but it is still a good idea to protect yourself from mosquito bites to reduce the chance of West Nile and other mosquito vectored diseases.

Zika mosquito map, J. Larson

Map showing the potential range of A. aegypti the mosquito that can transmit Zika virus, from acreage.unl.edu/zika-virus

Information for this article came from the article Zika Virus, the June Pest of the Month on the Acreage Insights webpage for Nebraska Extension. It was written by Drs. Jody Green and Jonathan Larson, Nebraska Extension Educators.