Fall Leaves

Now that it is September, the trees will begin to turn their fall color and leaves will fall from trees preparing for their dormant winter state. Fall color is one of the many reasons that I enjoy the season, but some years are better than others. And what do we do with all the falling leaves?

Fall Color

Fall color is variable from year to year. Leaves turn from green to red, yellow, or orange in the fall due to the pigments present. During the spring and summer months, green chlorophyll is the dominant pigment in leaves, this hides the other pigments from view. In fall, production of chlorophyll slows down and eventually stops altogether which allows other pigments to show up in leaves. Different weather conditions each year affects the how much variability and how vivid the colors are in the fall. Clear days, cool nights, and dry fall conditions promote high quality fall color, according to Iowa State University.

Use of Fallen Leaves

Once your leaves begin to fall, there are some great uses for those fallen leaves. If they fall into a garden or flower bed, you can just leave them there as a natural mulch for the plants. Extra mulch in the winter months is beneficial to plants, to help protect them from fluctuating soil and air temperatures.

You can also rake up the leaves and move them to a garden space for the winter. As the leaves break down, they will add nutrients back into the soil. If you have a vegetable garden space, you should clean off the plant material and till the garden in the fall. However, don’t leave topsoil exposed or it will blow away in winter winds. Adding leaves on top of the soil helps to hold it in place and it will be a good addition to the soil in the spring. Leaves are a free benefit to your garden.

Don’t just leave the leaves on the lawn…

You do want to do something with the leaves and not just leave them on the lawn through the winter months. If left on the turf over the winter, leaves can smother the grass and cause snow mold to develop. Raking and removing leaves will allow the turf to dry out on warm days with no snow cover to reduce the chance of getting snow mold. You can also mow over them with a composting blade to chop the leaves up to fine pieces, if raking is too much. Composted leaves left on the turf will not harm the grass during the winter and can add nutrients back to the soil for improved lawn growth.

It is also good for the environment to rake or compost leaves in the fall. Leaves can be a pollutant to surface water if left on the ground. Leaves left on the ground can be washed away into storm drains and other surface water locations. Fallen leaves release phosphorus and nitrogen when they decompose. If that decomposition occurs in the water, an overload of nutrients can contribute to impaired water ecology, such as excess algal growth (From Kelly Feehan, Extension Educator in Platte County Extension).

There are many uses for your leaves, as soil improvement or just as an input into your compost pile, just don’t leave full leaves on your turf to smother it and cause disease over winter months.

Fall Lawncare

Now that the kids are back in school and football is starting, we are moving towards fall. That means we can start looking at fall lawncare practices to improve our lawns this for next season.

Overseeding the Lawn

If you lost patches due to winterkill last winter or maybe to the drought this year or need to thicken your lawn up, late August through early September is best for seeding turf. Kentucky bluegrass and turf-type tall fescue are both great cool season turfgrass choices for southeast Nebraska. If you are looking for a warm season grass, Buffalograss is a great choice. Whatever grass variety you choose, make sure that it is blue tag certified grass seed for highest quality and least weed issues.

When overseeding, it can be helpful to aerate the lawn first so the seed can drop down into the plug holes afterwards, but it is not necessary. If you plan to kill off existing vegetation first, you can use glyphosate, or Roundup, but it needs to be done 1-2 weeks ahead of seeding. If you are just thickening up the stand or filling in bare spots, just spread the seed and then drive a lawnmower over the area with the blades off or rake it in with a stiff-tined rake. You can use a starter fertilizer when planting new grass. Do not use pesticides on the newly seeded areas until it has been mowed 3 times, with the exception of mesotrione, or Tenacity, which can be used at seeding. Always read and follow the label when using any pesticides.

Fall Broadleaf Weed Control

Perennial broadleaf weeds including dandelions, creeping Charlie or ground ivy, and clover are best controlled in the fall once the weeds have begun their preparations for winter. In the fall, these perennial weeds will move sugars that they use for energy from the above ground portions of the plant down into the roots to store them for next spring. If they are sprayed during this phase of their lifecycle, they are more likely to take that herbicide down into the roots, making pesticide applications more effective than if done in the spring. Spray these weeds with a 2,4-D product 2 or 3 times from late September through the end of October. Wait to spray after temperatures consistently drop to below 80 degrees so the herbicide doesn’t volatilize in hot, humid weather and harm other plants.

Henbit can also be controlled in the fall with either a pre-emergence herbicide in early fall before it germinates or with a post-emergence herbicide later in the fall. A later October application of 2,4-D products can control later germinating winter annuals like henbit.

Fall Fertilizers

As for fertilizer applications, the fall fertilization is the most important fertilizer application for a lawn. However, fall fertilization recommendations have changed over the past couple of years. For a lawn, a Labor Day to mid-September application of slow release fertilizer is still recommended. Apply a granule with 50% slow release nitrogen or less. If additional nitrogen fertilizer is required later in the fall, use a product with a quick release nitrogen in mid-October. We used to recommend Halloween or later for the second fertilizer application and we thought two applications were necessary. New research is showing us that a second application of nitrogen fertilizer may not even be necessary, but if it is, we should move the timing up to more like Columbus Day rather than the typical Halloween time frame.

Fall Gardening

As a gardener it is always hard to admit when fall starts to get closer. We don’t want our growing season to end! It has been a warm summer, but we still enjoy caring for and harvesting from our gardens. Not to fear, there are ways to continue gardening into October and November, giving us plenty more time to garden. The photo above is of a cold frame.

Fall Gardens

Fall vegetable gardens can be planted soon. Most of our fall vegetables should be planted within the first week or two of August to ensure a good fall harvest before the frost kills the plant. Those plants that you may have planted in the early spring to produce before it got too hot are the things that can typically be planted in the fall. For a fall harvest, plant beets August 1-10; carrots August 1-15; Chinese cabbage August 1-20; lettuce August 1-5; mustard August 1-25; radish August 1-20; snap beans August 1-5; spinach August 20- September 15; Swiss chard August 1-20; and turnips August 1-15. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts can be planted in the fall as well, but they should be planted from a transplant this late in the season. These crops need 65-85 days to maturity and may do better if they are planted as transplants.

The average first frost date for most of Southeast Nebraska is October 6-16, this comes from data from the High Plains Regional Climate Center. You can use the first frost date to figure out when to plant fall crops. Use the first frost date as a starting point, count backward the number of days to harvest listed on the packet of seeds and add a 10 day fall factor because the plants will mature slower due to the cooler weather.

Order transplants and garlic now to plant in September

Some local nurseries may not carry the transplants for your fall garden later into the season. A lot of the nurseries will clear out plant inventory by the later part of June and may not have these crops available in August for fall gardening. Check around to look for local inventory and see which nurseries will still carry these crops later in the season for fall planting. If you cannot find them locally, you can order seeds or transplants from mail order catalogs or through online shopping options.

Garlic is another crop that is planted in the fall, but it isn’t harvested in the fall. Plant garlic in October to be harvested the following June. Garlic needs to be planted in the fall because the new plants need to be exposed to cold soil temperatures for 1-2 months to form the bulb that will be harvested next summer. Even though it is early for planting garlic, you might want to order this early because garlic is difficult to find at planting time. Do not plant garlic from the grocery section, it will not produce well when grown in the garden.

Cold Frames

Thinking ahead, you can extend your growing season even longer with a cold frame. A cold frame is a miniature greenhouse or a box built over your garden. Cold frames are built with a light-admitting lid, such as glass or plastic film, that helps hold in the heat on the plants growing inside. It keeps the air and soil temperature around the plants up to 10 degrees warmer than the surrounding environment.

Yard & Garden: July 29, 2022

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 29, 2022. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am. 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. This is the last show of the growing season, but we will return on September 9 & 16 for a couple of Fall Episodes. Don’t miss it!

Guest Host: Kyle Broderick, Extension Educator and Coordinator of the Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic at UNL

1.The first caller of the day has carpenter ants in a maple tree. What can he do to prevent the ants?

A. The carpenter ants are not really damaging the tree. There is decay somewhere in the tree. Carpenter ants make their home in decaying wood by chewing it up and removing it from the tree. Ants cannot eat the wood, they cannot digest cellulose like termites can, but they tear it out of the tree to make their home. They spit the wood out at the edge of the tree opening, which leads to an accumulation of sawdust around the base of the tree, typically. The problem with this tree is actually the decay that cannot be cured once it begins. There was likely a broken branch or removal of too large of branch or a crack where co-dominant leaders developed. The decay will continue through the tree and will eventually be the demise of the tree, but there is no way to fix it once it starts. You can spray the ants with sevin, but it won’t fix the problem.

2. This caller is digging sandburs in his pasture. How deep does he need to dig them to prevent regrowth?

A. Sandburs are an annual grass, so just stopping them from producing seed is the most important thing now. They don’t need to be dug out too deep, because they will die with our first frost. Next year, they can be treated with a crabgrass preventer, if in a location where grass is not being seeded.

This caller also has a couple of elm trees. One has large leaves the other has small leaves. Why are they different?

A. The smaller leaves are on a Siberian elm while the larger leaves are on an American elm. The American elm is susceptible to Dutch elm disease and it could get the disease at any time. There is no prevention or cure for Dutch elm disease, but it is still around.

3. A caller has tomato plants that always look good, but for the past 3-4 years they start to look bad this time of the year. The leaves curl up and seem to get a burned up look to them. The damage starts from the bottom of the plant and moves upward. They use mulch and water well, what is the problem?

A. This could possibly be physiological leaf curl or herbicide injury, but it is hard to determine for sure based on her descriptions. She was advised to send photos to Kyle at the Plant Diagnostic Lab.

4. This caller is fighting aphids in her vegetable garden, on her cucumbers. She has sprayed with sevin or eight or bifenthrin. What can be done to manage them? Is there a way to prevent them?

A. A strong spray of water can sometimes work to knock the aphids off the plant and kill them. Otherwise, the sprays you mentioned should all work, but may need reapplied. The other issues with spraying aphids is that you also kill any predatory insects and sometimes the aphids rebound at a higher population because the predators are also gone. You can help prevent them for next year by cleaning up your garden this fall. Remove all the plants and till the garden space to expose any eggs to the winter temperatures. Also, reduce weedy patches nearby the garden where the aphids can also overwinter.

5. Can oak trees be transplanted now?

A. At this time of the year, it is better to wait until fall to move any plants. It is very hot and dry in July and August, making it difficult to keep newly transplanted plants alive with such a limited root system. Wait until mid to late September or even in October to move these trees to ensure their survival.

6. This caller planted strawberries and this is her first year for them to produce. The strawberries they are producing are very tiny, why is that?

A. Homegrown strawberries are very small in comparison to what you buy at the store. Over time, they may get a little larger than their first year, but still quite small. June bearing strawberries will be larger than the everbearing varieties.

7. A caller planted mums in a planter box last fall. The plants look dry, but he is now thinking he might have overwatered them because they are turning yellow. Is that what happened?

A. In discussion, he stated that he is watering them every day, especially once they started looking bad. It could be that they are overwatered. The soil should dry out a little bit between waterings, if the roots are constantly wet, they will develop a root rot. Be sure to check the soil moisture levels prior to irrigating. This can be done as simply as putting your finger into the soil to see if it feels wet or dry. If the soil is wet, wait to water until it is dry. These plants may die, but if they aren’t in an actual root rot condition, they might come back. Give them time to know for sure.

8. This caller will be seeding a new lawn this fall. What are the steps and timeline for that?

A. Start in late July or early August with an application of glyphosate to kill off all existing vegetation. Wait 14-21 days and reapply. 7 days after the second application of glyphosate seed the area, it would be helpful to first plug or core aerify the area to provide better seed-to-soil contact. When aerifying, go over the area twice in a perpendicular manner. Then broadcast the seed in late August to early September and follow it by driving the lawn mower over the area to knock the seed into the holes and then water it. You can use a starter fertilizer with it an mow it as soon as you can to push the grass to grow more. You can use either Kentucky bluegrass or Turf-type tall fescue, but be sure to use a blue tag certified seed. If you are seeding on bare ground, mulch is a must to cover the seed. However, if the seed is going into an existing stand with some plant material left behind, you wouldn’t need to use a mulch to protect the seed.

2022-07-12 14.37.36
Yellow nutsedge

9. A listener came into the studio with a weed to identify.

A. The weed she brought in was yellow nutsedge. You can spray nutsedge with sedgehammer or sedge ender, but at this time of the year it will just knock it back a little bit. Next year, spray the nutsedge in early June, before June 21st and this will get a better kill on the plants and reduce the population growth for the following year. Don’t pull it at this time of the year, it will push more growth.

10. The final caller of the show has a peach tree that is loaded with peaches this year. It broke some of the branches and she knew from listening to the show that she shouldn’t prop the branches with a board. What can she do to help the tree?

A. From our discussion, she did thin the fruit this spring, but not enough. The peaches should be thinned to one fruit every 6-8 inches. She has clusters of 10-12 fruits on the branches now, and they should be thinned to only one in that cluster. The problem she will have now since the branches have broken is that the tree will be opened up to more disease and insect issues. Prune the broken branches to a good pruning cut, if possible.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

FULL PODCAST: If you would like to hear the full recording of this show, Listen to the Podcast found at: https://yardandgarden.buzzsprout.com

Heat Stress and Harvesting the Garden

The summer is always hot in Nebraska, but some years can be more difficult on our plants than others. This year we are seeing slow ripening of many of our crops and some of our plants show the heat stress more than others.

Wilting

Wilting is occurring on many of our plants lately, especially on peppers and cucumbers. Peppers wilt in the heat and they look terrible, but they will be fine and still produce well. When you notice wilting on your plants, ensure that they are getting proper irrigation and are mulched properly. When plants are wilting due to heat or drought stress, they will often look much better or completely recovered in the mornings and be wilted later in the day.

Poor Pollination

Poor pollination also occurs during the heat. Even though our plants are producing, tomatoes are not ripening up. When temperatures are consistently as hot as they have been, tomatoes may develop but they don’t turn red. According to Purdue University, the pigments responsible for the red color in our tomatoes are not produced when the temperatures exceed 85 degrees. So, when we see long stretches of very hot weather, our tomatoes will not ripen. Also, at temperatures above 94 degrees, pollen becomes sterile, causing them to flower and not produce fruits. Give the plants some time and a little cooler weather, and they will produce delicious fruits.

Harvesting Summer Gardens

Once the weather shifts, we will begin to harvest summer crops. Tomatoes should be harvested when the tomato is firm and colored correctly for the variety you are growing. Make sure you know what you planted to know what color they should be, there are green, purple, yellow, red, and orange tomatoes. Red tomatoes can be harvested, if necessary, when not fully red in color. They will finish harvesting on the counter inside with their full flavor if picked early, but after pink begins to show up on the fruit.

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 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.

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 easily frozen for consumption later.

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. For fresh slicing cucumbers harvest when they are 7 to 9 inches long.

Current Garden Problems

Our gardens have been unusual this year. We went from quite chilly soil temperatures through most of the spring to 100 degrees in very early June. This has slowed the progression of many of our vegetable gardens. And, now, we are facing many different pests and environmental issues. But don’t worry, your plants will pull through and produce, it will likely just be a little later than usual. Blossom End Rot on a tomato is shown in the photo above.

Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles are an invasive insect from Japan, it has become a big problem here due to the fact that it has no natural predators. Adult Japanese beetles are one-half inch long, metallic green beetles with copper wings. Japanese beetles are problematic insects as both larvae and adults. The larvae are one of the white grub species found in Nebraska and adults feed on over 300 species of plants including some vegetable crops. Some of their favorite plants are roses, lindens, and grapes.

For Japanese beetle control, use a general insecticide on the plants you find them on, such as sevin (carbaryl), Tempo (cyfluthrin), Ortho Bug B Gone (bifenthrin), neem oil, or pyola. If spraying in the garden, make sure it is a chemical labeled for use in the garden. For Lindens, be sure to wait until after the trees have completed their bloom before treating them and don’t use any systemic insecticide. Do not use a Japanese beetle trap sold online and in nurseries as those will just attract more beetles.

Squash Bugs and Squash Vine Borer

Squash bugs and squash vine borer are invading our gardens. This is the time of year to watch out for these problematic, common insects found affecting our cucumbers, zucchini, and the other cucurbits. Scout for the eggs of the squash bug to kill them before they emerge. The copper-colored eggs are laid in groups on the underside of the leaves. Remove and destroy the eggs as you find them to reduce the population. For squash vine borer, wrap the base of the plant in aluminum foil to stop the females from laying the eggs on your plant. You can also spray the plants with sevin, eight or bifenthrin. Also, remember to follow the PHI or Pre-Harvest Interval to know how long to wait from pesticide application to harvest.

Cucumber Beetles

Cucumber beetles are another common problem in our garden. The damage from the beetle alone is minimal, but they spread cucumber wilt virus. This virus will cause the plant to wilt and die very quickly and there is no control for it. Remove any infected plants to reduce the spread and spray cucumbers, zucchini, squash and other cucurbits with sevin, eight, or bifenthrin to reduce the beetle population.

Blossom End Rot

Blossom end rot is a condition where the end of the fruit that is not attached to the plant begins to rot away. This occurs when plants do not receive enough calcium, but it is really from uneven watering which causes the calcium to become unavailable to the plant. Adding calcium to the soil will not reduce the occurrence. Blossom end rot can also occur in tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, and other crops. The best management practice for blossom end rot is to plant in well-drained soil and keep plants evenly watered, it should fade as the season progresses.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

Yard & Garden: July 22, 2022

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 22, 2022. 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 July 29, 2022. 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, Horticulture Program Coordinator with the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

1.The first caller of the day has found a large beetle in her garden that is olive green colored and 1.5 inches long. What is it and what should be done about it?

A. This sounds like a Green June Beetle. They are very large and can get into our gardens. The damage on the plants is minimal, but you can spray the plants with sevin if the population is large.

She also has some potatoes that have been blooming for 6-8 weeks and the plants look great, but when she dug up a potato, it was very large and starting to sprout. Is that ok?

A. It would be best to dig up the potatoes before they sprout too much or it will take energy away from the potato development. If the potatoes in the ground are large, they can be pulled now.

She also has some onions growing in her garden that are starting to die down. She is going to pull them but will be away from home for a while. Where can she leave them to dry properly while she is away?

A. Place onions somewhere with good airflow and not too hot to dry and cure for long-term storage. If she has a picnic table or patio table outside in the shade where they can be protected from the rain, that would be great.

2. This caller has cantaloupe and watermelon plants in his garden. Very quickly, the vines wilted and died back. What is the problem?

A. This sounds like damage from squash vine borer. The female borer is a clear-winged moth that lays her eggs on the stem of the plant near where it emerges from the ground. Once the borers are in the stem it is unlikely to save the plant. Other plants should be protected with a spray of sevin or eight at the base of the plant or by wrapping the stems in aluminum foil. Remove the plants that have been infested.

He also is having troubles with grasshoppers. How can they be managed?

A. The plants where grasshoppers are being found can be sprayed with sevin, tempo can be used on non-edible plants. When treating for grasshoppers, be sure to spray the roadsides or ditches as well. Grasshoppers congregate in the ditch areas and so spraying there as well will help reduce the population.

3. How can you prevent squash vine borer?

A. Wrap the stem in aluminum foil or a toilet paper tube. Anything to prevent the female from laying her eggs on the stem will help.

Also, this caller got winter injury on his strawberries growing in a cattle tank this year. Should he do something to protect the roots next year in his raised bed?

A. This can happen to plants growing in above-ground planters through the winter. But most of the time strawberries should be fine in a raised bed. It may not be necessary but if he sees damage to the strawberries every year, he can put some hay bales or burlap around the bed during the winter months to protect the plants.

Finally, he is struggling with algae in his decorative pond. What can he do to reduce the algae?

A. There is an imbalance in the pond due to not enough plants and too many fish. Get some good plants for cleaning the pond, water lilies are not the best option for this. Try some of the native sedges, like fox sedge.

4. A caller has peppers growing that are starting to get a black spot on the end of the pepper. What is this from and how can it be improved?

A. This is blossom end rot. It is due to a calcium deficiency, but really it’s due to uneven watering making the calcium unavailable to the plants. Give it time and it will go away. Make sure your plants are mulched to help keep the soil uniformly moist around them.

5. This caller has tomato plants that are setting blooms but no produce is ripening up. Why is that?

A. The plants are slow to ripen right now due to the heat. When the temperatures are above 90 degrees ripening slows down and temperatures above 95 will cause pollen to become sterile. So when our temperatures are this high during the day and above 75 overnight our plants will stall on the ripening process. Give them time and they will resume productivity.

6. A caller has cantaloupe plants that are producing a lot of blossoms but the leaves are curling and it is not producing. What is wrong?

A. The curling leaves could be due to herbicide injury. If that is the case, the plants should be removed. There is no way to know when or if the produce will be safe to consume after being hit by an unknown herbicide.

7. The final caller of the day is wondering how far to prune tomato plants to get rid of the yellow leaves?

A. Just remove the yellow leaves as you see them on the plants. Tomatoes can be pruned, but it isn’t necessary.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

FULL PODCAST: If you would like to hear the full recording of this show, Listen to the Podcast found at: https://yardandgarden.buzzsprout.com

Yard & Garden: July 15, 2022

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 15, 2022. 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 July 29, 2022. 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: Laurie Stepanek, Forest Health Management Specialist for the Nebraska Forest Service

1.The first caller of the day has some very old rose bushes. 1 of the roses has elm trees growing in it. How can she get rid of the elm tree and not harm the rose?

A. The best thing to do would be to cut the elm tree off and do a stump treatment, very carefully. Use a glyphosate product, like Roundup. Do NOT use Tordon or you will likely kill the rose bush as well. It would be best to do this in the fall to get the best kill on the elm tree. With the stump treatment, very carefully paint the glyphosate on the stump shortly, or immediately, after pruning.

She was also curious about managing weedy grass growing in the rose bushes as well. How can that be controlled?

A. Grass-B-Gon can be sprayed over the rose to kill the grass and not harm the rose.

2. This caller used a bug killer on her plants for grasshoppers on her sunflowers and tomatoes. It doesn’t seem to be working. What can she use to control grasshoppers?

A. When controlling grasshoppers, it is best to also treat the roadside ditches where the grasshoppers congregate. Tempo will work well in the roadside areas, in the garden stick with a product labeled for use around edible garden plants, such as Sevin or Eight.

This caller also was curious about slowly ripening tomatoes.

A. When the temperatures are above 90 degrees ripening slows down and temperatures above 95 will cause pollen to become sterile. So when our temperatures are this high during the day and above 75 overnight our plants will stall on the ripening process. Give them time and they will resume productivity.

She was also curious about what to do to control grass in popcorn?

A. The best would be to hand pull and use mulch. There is not a herbicide labeled for use in corn that treats grass and won’t harm the corn plants.

3. How far away from a garden space can you put Japanese beetle traps to draw the beetles away from the plants in the garden?

A. They are not a good idea to be used because they will draw in a lot more beetles than what were in the area before. There really isn’t a guideline on how far to draw them away. It would be best to spray the garden plants with sevin to help protect them and re-apply the sevin as recommended on the label.

4. This caller has Kohlrabi growing in her garden. The plant is looking great, but it isn’t putting the bulb on yet. Why not? It is too early yet?

A. Yes, it is still a little early. Give the plant time and it will produce. If the plant looks good, it will be fine.

5. A caller has tomatoes growing in tubs. The leaves are now starting to look like leather and they are curling up. He thought it was from spidermites and he has been spraying for them, but it isn’t helping. What is wrong?

A. This sounds like it is from herbicide drift. There is nothing to do for those plants once herbicide injury has affected them. Due to the fact that you don’t know what was applied to the plants and you don’t know the PHI (pre-harvest interval) or even if the pesticide has a PHI, it is recommended that the plants be removed and destroyed. There is no way to know when or if the fruits will be safe for consumption.

He also wanted to know what to do to control squash bugs. He has been spraying at the base of the plant, is that he best way to manage them?

A. Sevin or eight can be sprayed on the underside of leaves to control squash bugs. Through our discussion, it sounds like he is dealing more with squash vine borer, so it is best to concentrate sprays of sevin or eight at the base of the plant for those. It is a good practice to get the base of the plant, the underside of the leaves, and on top of the leaves for good insect control.

6. What is the best management for clover in a lawn?

A. Clover can be sprayed in the lawn, but the best time for herbicides on perennial weeds is in the fall. Use 2,4-D, triclopyr, or dicamba products 2-3 times in the fall of the year, once the temperatures have cooled to lower than 85 for 72 hours. It is a good practice to spray in late September and mid-October with an optional third application in the end of October. Clover is more common in lawns that are underfertilized, so be sure to fertilize your lawn correctly to help manage it. Also, remember that clover is a good food for pollinators and it really isn’t terribly bad to have in the lawn.

He was also wondering about his pumpkin plants. The vines are very long and growing great, but there are no flowers coming on. He fertilizes with 12-12-12 fertilizer every 10 days. What is wrong with the plants?

A. These plants are getting too much fertilizer. Plants with excess nitrogen will grow big, beautiful plants but will push all their energy into that and not push their energy into flowering and developing fruits. Stop fertilizing vegetable plants after only a few times in the spring.

7. This caller has a huge plant of acorn squash growing in her garden. The plant has now grown into her other garden plants. Can she cut it back or will that kill it?

A. It can be cut back but that could impact the productivity. Don’t cut it too far back and cut back to a leaf. Don’t cut directly in front of a fruit or it may not develop properly. Next year, be sure to give squash plants plenty of room to grow.

8. How can deer be managed in a field?

A. The best management is a fence, but that really isn’t feasible in a field setting. During season, deer hunting and harvesting can help reduce the population in that area. There is a NebGuide on managing deer found at wildlife.unl.edu

9. A caller has henbit taking over in his yard. What can be done to manage it?

A. From our discussion, I found out it was still actively living in the lawn, which means it is not henbit, but actually creeping Charlie/ground ivy. Henbit is a winter annual that dies with the heat of the summer. Creeping Charlie is a perennial weed, the best time for herbicides on perennial weeds is in the fall. Use 2,4-D, triclopyr, or dicamba products 2-3 times in the fall of the year, once the temperatures have cooled to lower than 85 for 72 hours. It is a good practice to spray in late September and mid-October with an optional third application in the end of October.

He also has a problem with bees in his chimney. What can be done about that?

A. In this case, it would be best to call a pest control company to come and take care of the bees. You can try to contact a local beekeeper first to see if they would be able to relocate the bees, but in this situation it seems highly unlikely.

10. This caller has peach trees and now is finding worms in his peaches. What can be done?

A. It would be too late to treat the trees this year, but you can treat the trees next year to prevent this from happening again. Spray the trees next year every 10-14 days through the growing season starting at bud swell, discontinue sprays during the bloom period to allow for pollination. Use a home orchard fruit tree spray which will help with both insect pests and diseases.

11. The final caller of the day asked about using Pasture Pro in his pasture. Can he do that now?

A. No, this is a 2,4-D product. 2,4-D products should not be used in the heat because they can volatilize and move to non-target plants and cause damage, like what the caller earlier was dealing with in his tomatoes. Wait to use this product until the fall when the temperatures are below 85 degrees for the day of application and 2 days following and when the wind is low.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

FULL PODCAST: If you would like to hear the full recording of this show, Listen to the Podcast found at: https://yardandgarden.buzzsprout.com

Yard & Garden: July 8, 2022

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 8, 2022. 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 July 29, 2022. 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: Kathleen Cue, Extension Educator in Dodge County

1.The first caller of the day has a peach tree with peaches that started to grow and got about the size of a walnut and are now falling off the tree. Why is that?

A. This could be due to either poor pollination or self-pruning. Self-pruning is done sometimes by the tree when it begins to produce too many fruits, more than what the tree can sustain, so it will drop some of them. However, when talking with the caller, she said there were not very many fruits on the tree to drop, so it likely isn’t from that. It is more likely from poor pollination. Bees can only fly when the air temperature is above 54 degrees F and they can’t fly in rainy or windy weather. When the peaches were blooming, we still had a great deal of cold weather and they may not have been properly pollinated. In this case, the tree will begin to form a fruit but it will later drop due to lack of pollination. There is nothing we can do about this, she will likely have to wait until next  year for more peach harvest.

2. This caller made a new rock bed and recently something made a 2-3 inch hole in the rock area and is burrowing around in her garden area. What is causing it?

A. It is hard to tell for sure, but it could be from moles or ground squirrels. She might try to set up a wildlife camera outside to see if she can find a photo of the critter. If it is a mole, there are poison worms for moles that can be used or a harpoon trap. For more wildlife information visit: https://wildlife.unl.edu/

3. A caller is having trouble with wasps around her pool. Is there anything she can do to deter them from building new nests on her deck near the pool?

A. Unfortunately, nothing will work long-term to stop them from building new nests. It sounds like she is dealing with paper wasps, which are fairly docile. If you leave them alone, they should leave you alone. The best would be to go out at night and spray the nest to try to kill as many as you can while they are all in the nest. Put red cellophane wrap over the flashlight when you go spray, it will disturb the wasps less than using a regular flashlight.

4. This caller has peonies and hibiscus plants that are turning yellow and the leaves are turning brown. What is causing it and can it be fixed?

A. This could be from a fungus or a watering issue. The watering isn’t necessarily over-watering, it could be from under-watering as well. These plants need 1 inch of water per week and it should be delivered from a deep, slow watering. The holes could also be from hail damage, which they will recover from. It isn’t likely anything that will kill the plants. If it is determined to be a fungus, a copper fungicide could help out. Otherwise, be sure to clean up the plants in the fall and remove all the plant material in late September or October to reduce the disease staying around the plant for next season.

5. How do you kill elms in a pasture?

A. According to the 2022 Guide for Weed, Disease, and Insect Management in Nebraska these trees can be controlled by 2,4-D, Grazon, or Remedy. It should be applied in the fall. You will have a better kill on the trees if you cut them down first and do a stump treatment.

6. How do you control puncturevine?

A. Puncturevine is a summer annual. 2,4-D can be used in the spring to treat puncturevine prior to bloom development. Otherwise, pre-emergence crabgrass herbicides like Barricade or Dimension will work when applied early in the spring. For now, it is best to hoe the plants out or do another form of hand removal to stop the plants from producing seed.

7. This caller has a yellow squash plant that wilted and died, quickly. She was using sevin or eight. What caused this problem?

A. This could be from either the sqaush vine borer or the cucumber beetle. Both of these can cause the plant to wilt very quickly. If it is the squash vine borer there would be damage at the base of the plant where the larvae tunneled into the stem. If not, as was the case here, it would be from cucumber wilt virus that is spread by the cucumber beetle. There is no control for plant viruses, the plant should just be removed from the garden and destroyed to prevent the spread to other plants. The beetles can be sprayed with sevin or eight, but it may not kill them before the virus enters the plant.

8. A caller has a tree near a bean field that was recently sprayed and now the leaves are turning yellow and curling up from the herbicide injury. Will it be ok?

A. Only time will tell if the plant will survive herbicide injury. As long as the damage wasn’t too severe, it will likely be fine but you won’t know really until next year. It is unlikely that the plant will push any new growth this late in the year. Typically, our trees can survive herbicide injury from time to time, but if they are repeatedly hit hard by herbicide drift for multiple years in a row, it will likely cause the tree to die. There isn’t much to do for the tree now except to keep it healthy and happy. Make sure the tree is evenly watered through the season and has a 2-3 inch deep mulch ring. Don’t use any lawn herbicides around it for a year or so and avoid fertilizing the tree. Fertilization on a stressed tree can further stress it.

He also asked about Japanese beetles. They are on his linden tree, will it kill the tree?

A. It is not likely that the tree will die from Japanese beetles. They will make it look bad for the rest of the season, but they don’t usually kill the trees.

9. The final caller of this show has some iridescent beetles on her hibiscus plants. Will sevin work? She has been using soapy water but it is difficult to keep up.

A. This could be the apple flea beetle. Yes, sevin will work for them. Be sure to read and follow the label instructions on how to apply.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

FULL PODCAST: If you would like to hear the full recording of this show, Listen to the Podcast found at: https://yardandgarden.buzzsprout.com

Roses

It is summer now and our plants are into their full swing of blooming and growth. With summer, we also see many insects out and about. Some of our insects are beneficial and some can cause some problems. However, not all insects that feed on our plants are really doing much damage to plants, like the Roseslug. A roseslug and the damage from the roseslug is pictured above.

Roseslug Sawfly

Roseslugs are immature sawflies, they are not a true slug. The immature roseslugs are translucent green with a dark brown colored head. The larvae are found on the underside of the leaves of the rose. Adults are fly-like insects that are black in color and less commonly noticed.

Damage comes from the larvae, the adults are not harmful to our plants. The larvae feed on the leaf tissue and at first the damage is just lighter colored leaf portions. After a while, the layer of leaf that is left behind turns brown and papery and it will eventually fall out of the leaf. This leaves holes behind, which is usually when we notice the problem. The damage is just aesthetic, not really damaging, it will recover quickly.

Management of Roseslugs

Roseslugs don’t cause any harm to the growth or productivity of the rose, it will still bloom even with roseslug damage. There is no need to control the roseslugs with insecticides. You can remove the roseslug larvae by hand and throw them into a bucket of soapy water to reduce the population if desired.

In high populations, you can spray the plants with a general insecticide labeled for use on roses, such as sevin or eight. However, be careful when spraying to avoid hitting the blossoms to avoid injury to the many pollinators that visit roses.

Roseslugs only have one generation per year in Nebraska. They are typically a mid-spring through early summer pest and will fade by mid to late June. At this point, any roseslugs left on your plant will soon be pupating and will no longer cause damage to your rose plants. The new growth that the rose puts on will grow normally.

Other Rose Pests

The other most common pest we see on roses would be the Japanese beetle. Japanese beetle is an invasive insect from Japan that is green with bronze colored wing coverings. It is a white grub in our lawns as an immature and will feed on over 300 species of plants as an adult including lindens and roses. The adults have recently emerged in southeast Nebraska.

For Japanese beetle control, use a general insecticide on the plants you find them on, such as sevin (carbaryl), Tempo (cyfluthrin), Ortho Bug B Gone (bifenthrin), neem oil, or pyola. Be sure to wait until after Lindens have bloomed before treating them and don’t use any systemic insecticide like imidacloprid on lindens, in accordance with the label. If this is a common issue for you, using grub control on your lawn can help to reduce the population, but will not eliminate them all together. Grub controls include Merit (imidacloprid) or GrubEx (chlorantraniliprole). Do not use a Japanese beetle trap sold online and in nurseries as those will just attract more beetles.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension or bias against those not mentioned.