Yard & Garden: July 10, 2020

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 10, 2020. 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 31, 2020. 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: Justin Evertson, Green Infrastructure Coordinator for the Nebraska Forest Service

1. The first question of the show was from a caller who has a 20 foot tall blue spruce that the top 5-6 feet is turning brown. What caused this and what can be done about it?

A. This is likely from a canker. Canker fungi are common in blue spruce trees and will often cause the top portion of the tree to die. The dead area should be cut out but then you will lose the apical dominance and the tree won’t grow upward much after removing the terminal bud. It will die back to a certain spot then stop, the rest of the tree will remain healthy.

2. This caller has tomatoes with leaves that are curling. What is causing this?

A. Unfortunately, we aren’t completely sure what is causing this damage, but it is widespread throughout the whole state this year. It could be from herbicide damage due to chemicals still being used later in the year with the cooler spring and sudden change of temperatures to very hot. There is also thought that it could be from the beet curly top virus. This could also be from watering issues such as over watering or underwatering. It would be best to just pull the plants out because if it is the virus it can spread to the other plants and if it is herbicide injury the produce would not be safe to consume. If the other plants look ok, this would be the best option.

3. A walk-in listener has an row of arborvitae that have developed brown spots in them this summer. What is causing this?

A. Arborvitae struggle with the extreme temperatures that Nebraska have. The damage looks mostly like environmental stress. Keep them sufficiently watered, but don’t overwater. Keep them mulched in. Depending on the amount of dieback, they may survive.

4. This caller planted broccoli in mid to late May, now the leaves are developing holes and there is no head developing yet. What is wrong with it?

A. It is likely that the broccoli was planted too late and may not develop the head. Broccoli is more of a cool season plant, they don’t grow well in this heat. The holes are likely due to one of the looper caterpillars that are common on broccoli. Sevin will help with that.

5. A caller has a large pine tree that is looking dead, quite suddenly. It is losing a lot of needles and has turned brown. What is wrong with it?

A. This is likely due to pine wilt disease. There is no cure for the disease and no way to prevent it prior to infection. The tree should be removed.

She also wondered if she could still spray for bagworms?

A. We are quickly nearing the end of the time frame for spraying for bagworms. They are best sprayed when the bags are 1/2 inch in length or less. As the bags get too big, the sprays become less effective. Spraying soon should be ok, but if you wait too long you may not see 100% coverage from the sprays. Use Tempo and spray in the next week for best control.

6. This caller has an apple tree that didn’t bloom this year and the leaves look bad. Will it survive and is there anything to do for the tree?

A. The frost likely injured the blooms. They will not produce apples this year if that is what happened. The plants will still survive. After discussion, it seems that the apple trees have rust on them, which is common. The spray time has passed. You can spray the trees next spring with a copper fungicide for the rust or use an orchard fruit tree spray through the season next year to work on insects and diseases in the trees.

7. A caller has a forsythia and a red twig dogwood that have grown too large for the area. When can they be pruned so they aren’t blocking windows?

A. If flowers are not critical, these plants can be pruned most anytime. Pruning right now would reduce the flowers for next year, since they are mostly set on for next year already. However, the best time for pruning the forsythia is just after it has finished blooming and the dogwood would be in the late winter. They can both be rejuvenated by pruning all the way back to the ground, about 6-8 inches above ground. The rejuvenation pruning should be done in the fall.

8. This caller has tomatoes and cucumbers with spots on the leaves. Is this a fungus and should a fungicide be used?

A. This could be from a fungus, it is hard to tell without seeing the plants. However, it is not the same fungus, these would have different types of fungi. Fungi are typically host specific. If there are just a few leaves that are damaged, those could be removed and destroyed. If the plant seems to have a lot of damaged leaves, a fungicide could be used if desired. Watering from below on the plants or earlier in the day if using overhead irrigation can help reduce the spread and incidence of the disease. If using a fungicide, be sure to read and follow the label and follow the PHI or pre-harvest interval. The PHI is how many days to wait for harvest after an application of a pesticide is made.

9. A caller has 3 river birches and a corkscrew weeping willow. After the late frost this spring, there are branches that are now dead, with no leaves. Will these plants survive?

A. It is unlikely that they will survive if they are not green now. It is likely that the late frost injured them and they cannot recover. If it is a few select branches, you might be able to remove them and the tree may be ok, but if the majority of the canopy has no green leaves on it, they will not survive. These plants can struggle with the extreme temperatures of Nebraska.

japanese beetle JAK582
Japanese Beetle, Photo from Jim Kalisch, UNL Entomologist Emeritus

10. What can be done about Japanese Beetles?

A. The plants that the Japanese beetles are found on can be sprayed with carbaryl, bifenthrin, or chlorantraniliprole. For organic options neem or pyola can be used. Don’t use the traps, they will bring in more beetles than what you already have. Grub controls can help a little with the population size. Be sure to avoid spraying the flowers of any plants.

11. This caller has a wild plum thicket along their driveway. It is spreading too much into the driveway. When can it be pruned back to avoid scratching cars that drive by?

A. The areas of the plum thicket that are creeping out of normal growth can be cut back most anytime. They are a tough plant and should be fine.

She also has a vegetable garden that is not growing well this year. It is the same location that she has gardened for years, but the plants just are not doing well. Can she add manure to it and if so, when?

A. You can add manure to the garden. For food safety guidelines, fresh manure should be applied 120 days prior to harvest of any crops, so we advise adding manure in the fall. However, since this has been a good garden space, I would suggest doing a soil test prior to soil amendments to know exactly what the problem is and know how to fix it.

12. A caller has a silver maple that lost limbs and has started to split from the recent storms. Can the tree be pulled back together with a cable?

A. It is best to work with an arborist on this, to ensure it is done correctly. However, the tree may be too large for a cable to effectively help with the split. It may be time to remove this tree. Silver maples are prone to decay from wounds such as this, it is likely the beginning of the end for the tree anyway.

13. The final question of the day is about a black hills spruce that is browning sporadically on the ends of branches throughout the tree. What is wrong with it?

A. This tree could have freeze damage on the tips of the branches from the late frost and snow this spring. It could also be from a disease called sirococcus or needle cast. It would be too late for treatment with either of these diseases, but they shouldn’t kill the tree. The brown areas can be pruned out and next spring, it might be good to spray the tree with a fungicide.

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

Yard & Garden: June 12, 2020

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 12, 2020. 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 31, 2020. 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: No guest host due to COVID-19 and social distancing

1. The first caller of the show has tomatoes that only grew to about 1 foot tall and then they died back from the top. What is wrong with them?

A. It could be that they need to be watered more effectively. He has the plants mulched with grass and is watering, but just using a hose-end sprayer. When just watering with a hose like that the top couple inches of soil get wet then it spreads out rather than down, so the plants aren’t getting enough water to their roots. It could also be from a disease, but it is hard to tell from just a description.

2. A caller has watermelon radish plants that are going to seed. Can she cut the flower stalks off so they continue to grow? The radishes are not very large yet.

A. These plants are not going to grow much longer. When we get to hot weather the cool season crops will go to seed or bolt and will not live long, radishes are one of those plants. She said she had to replant later in the year due to frost damage in late April/early May, that is just too late to plant radishes for a good crop. She could try again in the fall or plant earlier next spring.

3. A caller has an American elm tree that has a few branches that are dying off. He has cages of rabbits underneath the tree and wondered if too much nitrogen was being applied to the roots or if the roots are reaching up to under the chicken coop with high nitrogen?

A. It is more likely that this tree has developed Dutch Elm Disease and will likely die. There is no control or prevention for this disease. American elms were mostly wiped out in the 1960’s due to this disease but a few have survived or came up naturally. The American elms that are still alive will eventually die due to the disease, it will get to them. He can send a sample into the UNL Plant Pest Diagnostic lab for confirmation, but if it is Dutch Elm disease, the tree should be removed.

4. This caller is actually from Oklahoma, but was doing work in the area to call in. He was wondering what we do for squash bugs?

A. Squash bugs can be difficult to control in a garden and most of the time once they are in your garden, they will always be there. For chemical controls, sevin, eight, or bifenthrin are all labeled for use in the vegetable garden. Be sure to watch the PHI, pre-harvest interval, or amount of days to wait from application until harvest. For squash bugs make sure you are spraying thoroughly on the underside of the leaves where the eggs are laid to kill larvae just as they emerge. You can also squash the copper-colored, football shaped eggs as you find them on the underside of the leaves. Be sure to clean up the garden in the fall to eliminate the overwintering site.

5. This caller had 3 questions. First, when and how short can a spirea be pruned?

A. It is a spring blooming spirea, so it should be pruned within a few weeks after blooming has completed for the year. Up to 1/3 of the plant can be removed in one season. So if it is 3 feet tall, you can remove 1 foot of the growth. Be sure to prune back to a side branch. Continual shearing will leave heavy growth at the base of the plant with spindly growth on top. Spireas can be renewed with a rejuvenation pruning where it is cut back to 6-8 inches above the ground. This should be done in the fall and not every year. You will not see blooms the year following a rejuvenation pruning.

How do you prune lilacs? It is overgrown.

A. If the lilac is overgrown, it can be pruned through a rejuvenation pruning in the fall, like suggested with spireas. Otherwise, it should be pruned within a few weeks after blooming has been completed in the spring.

His final question was about tree black walnut. The tree was pruned at a random location mid-way through the branch. It has now died back further than where it was pruned. What is wrong with it?

A. Be sure to make a good pruning cut. Branches either need to be pruned back to the trunk, just outside of the branch collar, or to a side branch. The side branch needs to be at least 1/2 the size of the branch being removed.

6. A caller has poppies that she received from the Yukon. These poppies are blooming now and she wants to dead head so they continue to bloom, but she also wants to save the seed to start some new plants. Can she cut the flower heads off before they fully dry to save the seed?

A. The seed needs to be allowed to fully mature on the plant. So, unfortunately, you will have to choose between dead heading and allowing the seed to mature on the plant. If they are picked too soon, some may germinate, but the rate will be low.

7. An emailed question regarding the listeners garden which was hit by herbicide drift. Will the produce from this garden be safe to consume?

A. There is no way to know for sure when or if the produce will be safe to eat. It is better to throw it out and start over when in doubt.

8. This caller was curious about collecting seed from winter onions, or walking onions. She tried last year but they didn’t grow at her house after she took the above ground bulbs from her sisters plants. What does she need to do differently to get these onions to grow?

A. These also need to be allowed to fully mature on the plant, like the poppies. The stems with the above ground bulblets on them will dry up and fall over. When they are falling over the bulblets are mature and can be picked up and planted in new locations. If the bulblets were picked off the plant prior to this, they were not fully mature and wouldn’t develop into new plants.

9. A caller has oak trees that the branches are dying from the bottom up. What can be done?

A. These are likely pin oak trees and it is very common in pin oak trees. The lower branches could be dying due to lack of sunlight. It could also be due to a few diseases. If the branches are dead with no leaves, they should be removed to keep them from falling. If this continues, a sample could be submitted either by photo to me or a sample to the diagnostic lab at UNL, linked above.

10. This caller has tomato plants that were cut off at the ground level but the plant was left behind. What caused that? How can this be stopped?

A. This was likely due to cutworms. They can be managed by using sevin or diatomaceous earth around the base of the plant when they are planted. You can also wrap the base of the plant with aluminum foil to prevent feeding. This caller took the plants inside the next day and placed them in water and in soil to try to re-root them, it worked for some. Great idea, if caught early enough!

She also wondered if diatomaceous earth is effective for squash bugs?

A. It would not be as effective for squash bug adults. It can be used for squash bug nymphs.

Bagworm4
Bagworm

11. A caller sprayed his evergreen trees with Tempo to treat for bagworms and it rained just a few hours later. Will he need to respray?

A. The label states that it is rainfast after 24 hours, it is likely that this application was mostly washed off. The label also states that it can be reapplied every 7-10 days, so it would be best to wait about 7 days before reapplying. It would still be within the timeframe for spraying bagworms at that time.

12. This caller has been able to hand-pick bagworms off of her small tree through the year. Does she also need to spray?

A. If you are able to continue to pick the bagworms off as you see any new bags form, you wouldn’t have to. If you see a large amount of small, black caterpillars or if a large quantity of bags form on the tree, you can spray.

13. How often can you spray Eight to control squash bugs?

A. Remember to always read and follow the label when using pesticides. It would likely be fine to spray every 10-14 days through the season, but one label I looked at said every 3 days if necessary. Just be sure to follow what your label states and also follow the PHI, pre-harvest interval, or amount of days to wait from application until harvest.

14. A caller has an oak with old scars where limbs were removed by previous home owners. One of the wounds is weeping. What is causing this weeping? What can be done about it?

A. This is likely due to a bacterial infection of the heartwood, called wet wood disease. Those pruning scars did not fully seal over and it has allowed the bacteria to enter the tree. It is minimal damage to the tree and won’t kill the tree. There is nothing to do to stop the weeping, but again it doesn’t really hurt the tree.

15. The final question of the day was from a caller who has cucumber plants with leaves that are drying up and dying. What is causing the browning which starts on the outside edge of the leaves? Can anything be sprayed on the plants to stop the damage?

A. This is likely either environmental stress or a slight fungal disease. The environmental stress could be due to the heat or drought stress if they aren’t receiving sufficient irrigation through this hot, windy weather. It could also be from a fungus, there are many that affect cucumbers. A fungicide, such as copper, could be used to reduce the spread. Without a picture, it is hard to determine for sure what is affecting these plants.

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

Yard & Garden: June 5, 2020

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 5, 2020. 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 31, 2020. 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: No guest host due to COVID-19 and social distancing

1. The first caller of the show would like to know when the proper time is to spray for bagworms?

A. After they have hatched, which is different every year, based on temperatures. It is typically around the middle of June. This week, the UNL Entomology department reported that bagworms have hatched in the Lincoln and Omaha area so if they haven’t hatched in Southeast Nebraska yet, they likely will in a week or so. We should be in the spray window for the next few weeks.

2. A caller has large trees in her yard that are shedding large amounts of leaves recently. What is causing this? Will the tree be ok?

A. This could be from a variety of factors. In some cases, the trees may have put on a large flush of leaves this spring. With the extreme heat and humidity recently, they dropped the extra leaves. They could also be leaves that have a minor leaf spot disease that has caused a large amount to drop off. Either way, the trees are still in good health with a full canopy of leaves and should be fine for future growth.

3. When can a large hosta be divided?

A. At this point for the year, it would be best to wait until next spring. It is now hot and windy so it would be very hard for the plant to tolerate being divided and replanted. Hostas are best divided in the spring before hot weather but after they have emerged well.

4. This caller has potato plants growing and now the edges of the leaves are curling up and turning brown. What is wrong with them?

A. The caller is watering his potatoes correctly, but does not use mulch. This could be one of two fungal diseases brown leaf spot or early leaf blight. Fungicides such as mancozeb or chlorothalonil can be used to control this, but the wet weather recently is likely the reason it is showing up. Mulching the plants will also help so that the spores don’t splash from the soil back up to the leaves of the plant. Be sure to clean up the garden at the end of the year and rotate the potatoes around to different areas of the garden each year.

2019-06-07 10.05.02
Herbicide injury on Tomato

5. A caller has tomatoes that the top leaves are tight and deformed. What is causing this and do they need to be replanted?

A. This is likely from herbicide drift, it is hard to say for sure without seeing the plants, but it sounds most like herbicide drift. This has started to become a problem again this year due to the change in weather. As we warm up, we see more problems with 2,4-D and dicamba products that turn to a gas and move to non-target plants. Tomatoes are very sensitive to drift from 2,4-D or Dicamba products. They should grow out of the damage, however because we don’t know exactly what product hit these tomatoes there is no way to know for sure when the product will be out of the tomatoes. I can’t say when or if these tomato plants will be safe for consumption this year.

6. This caller grew cucumber plants last year and the vines took over her small garden. Can she cut them back to keep them away from her other plants?

A. Yes, the vines can be cut to reduce the growth slightly. I wouldn’t cut too much off because that can reduce the yields. It might be better for her to use a bush cucumber in future years that will not spread as far. She can also try using a trellis to have the cucumbers grow up rather than out.

7. A caller has sapling trees growing up in her chain link fence. What can she do to kill them?

A. These should be cut off and treated with a stump treatment, painting a herbicide on the freshly cut stump. Roundup would be the best to use in this heat and around other plants. She asked about using a brush killer and this can be used, but shouldn’t be used too close to desired plants. Always read and follow the label when using pesticides

8. This caller was curious if bagworms would run their natural course and if he would be able to quit spraying his trees eventually?

A. Unfortunately, bagworms are here to stay. They will never fully go away. Bagworms, like all insects, go through peaks and valleys in their population and right now we are nearing the peak. This means we have very high populations that are doing damage to our plants. When the bagworm population drops, you may be able to discontinue spraying for a few years if the population isn’t large in your trees. For now, you will want to spray with the high populations.

9. What are the orange things on the cedars and what plants will they damage?

A. These are the galls of cedar-apple rust. This disease needs 2 hosts to complete its lifecycle. The galls are hard, gray/brown structures on the cedar trees over the winter. In the spring, when it rains, these galls open up to allow the spores to move to the apple trees. When the galls open up they are orange structures that resemble an octopus due to all the telial horns around the gall. The disease causes no problems to the cedar trees, but will cause lesions on the leaves and fruits of apple trees. If you have a susceptible apple tree, now is the time to spray with a fungicide to prevent the disease from affecting your tree. For more information, view this NebGuide.

10. Is there any reason to spray fruit trees this year since the blossoms all froze and no fruit will develop?

A. It wouldn’t be necessary, if you want to take a year off of spraying. The trees will still develop some damage on the leaves, but it shouldn’t kill the tree. For fruit trees in Nebraska, you can either spray throughout the entire summer to combat all the problems or you can not spray and have some problems. If there will be no fruit, it wouldn’t be necessary to spray the tree.

11. A caller has an old rose that bloomed but now the leaves look to be drying up. What is wrong with it?

A. It is hard to tell for sure without seeing the plant. There are a few different fungal diseases that could be affecting the roses now after all the rain we have seen recently. It may also be that the plants were shocked by the sudden onset of hot, humid, windy environmental conditions after the cool spring. They could also have damage from rose slugs, which are out right now. He also said they are surrounded by brome grass which could be causing competition issues. Most of these problems will fade on their own. If it is a fungal disease, there are rose specific fungicides that can be used. Rose slugs are minor problems and will go away as fast as they appeared, without chemicals.

12. The final question of the day was a caller who had planted a butterfly milkweed. overnight it was pulled out of the ground so he replanted it and it was again uprooted the next night. What is causing this? It is only on the new butterfly milkweed plant.

A. I assume this is damage from a squirrel or other type of wildlife. The best defense against wildlife damage would be to put a fence around the plants being damaged. There would be nothing else that would be very effective, or proven to work through research, in this case.

 

Yard & Garden: May 22, 2020

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 22, 2020. 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 31, 2020. 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: No guest host due to COVID-19 and social distancing

1. The first caller of the show wants to know how much manure he should apply on his garden?

A. Manure should not be applied to a garden during the growing season. For food safety reasons, it should only be applied in the fall. The guidelines recommend waiting 120 days after adding manure before vegetables should be harvested from the garden if the edible portion of the plants come into contact with the soil. If fertilizer is necessary, general fertilizers for a garden would be sufficient. If unsure how much to add, a soil test should be done so that you don’t apply too much fertilizer.

2. This caller wants to know if castor beans are poisonous? She is mainly concerned for her dog who may eat the plant if she plants it.

A. Yes, the seeds of castor beans are poisonous. If she can ensure to pull the bean pods off throughout the season, it should be ok. However, it would be best to double check with her vet to be sure for the dog’s safety.

3. Is it too late to plant potatoes? How about sweet potatoes?

A. It is getting a bit late to plant potatoes for this year. Sweet potatoes are still fine to plant, though. They should be planted in mid-May to early June for best success.

4. A caller has an Empress clematis that is not blooming after 3 years of growth. Why is that?

A. This could be from cold weather damaging the blooms. If the blossoms were just about ready to open up as the snow came or cold temperatures, it could have injured them. It does take a few years for the flowering to reach its full potential, so that could be part of it as well. Finally, make sure that the clematis is not getting too much Nitrogen fertilizer overflow from a lawn. Too much nitrogen can make the plant very healthy but not produce flowers.

5. This caller is looking for a plant to place on the south and west sides of a brick house that only get 1-2 feet wide. What can be planted in this location?

A. This is a difficult location due to the heat, it is in full sun and will receive reflective heat from the brick house. Also, the size will be hard to fit into. She could look at some sedums, there are some smaller varieties and they like hot, dry locations. Salvia may be ok, but it would have to be pinched back through the summer to keep the plants smaller. Daylilies also could work, but may grow too large. Missouri primrose or penstemons could be a smaller choice that would grow well in this location.

6. A caller has cedars that have poison ivy and virginia creeper, also called woodbine, growing up through the trees. What can he do to control the vines?

A. You can’t spray the vines as they are growing on the cedars, it will harm or possibly kill the cedars. It is best to cut them off near the ground and then treat the stump with a brush killer. Do not use Tordon, it is not labeled for use there and it can spread to the roots of the cedars. If you cannot get to the poison ivy or are highly sensitive to the plants, you may want to call a lawn spray company to spray it for you to keep you from developing a rash.

7. This caller started tomatoes inside and they have now been transplanted into the garden but the bottom couple of leaves are turning yellow. What is causing this?

A. This is likely due to environmental conditions. It has been cool for tomatoes. As long as the top of the plant is maintaining healthy, green leaves, the plants should be fine. If the bottom leaves die back, they can be removed.

8. A caller has noticed that the bagworms are just emerging from their bags and it looks like they have started to chew on the needles of his trees. Should he wait a little longer to spray them or should he do it now?

A. Give them a little more time to ensure that all have hatched before spraying. If you spray too soon, you will miss those that are later to hatch. Watch for very small bags to begin to form on the tree, that is a good time to start spraying, before the bags are more than 1/2 inch in length.

9. This caller has a weeping willow tree that is 4 years old and still isn’t growing well, it is planted in full sun. What is wrong with it?

A. Be patient, it may take a little while to get over the transplant shock. Also, be more diligent when watering the tree. It should be watered once a week with a slow trickle for about 20-30 minutes. If the tree isn’t receiving this, it could be part of the problem.

10. Why are the peonies not blooming yet? They usually are blooming by now.

A. The cold weather is pushing back their bloom time. Also, the snow or freezing temperatures in late April to early May could have damaged the buds. Give them time to bloom a little later this year.

11. A caller has tomatoes that were damaged in the freeze this year. The leaves wilted and fell off but the stalk is still green. Will they come back or should they be replanted?

A. It would be best to replant. Those plants have no leaves to build sugars to grow, it is likely that they won’t live through this.

12. When should you stop harvesting asparagus?

A. When the spears start to get very spindly, it is best to stop harvesting your asparagus. Also, the spears will start developing the ferns quickly on those spindly spears, that is another indication to stop harvesting to allow the plants to grow for the rest of the season.

2014-04-23 10.45.50
Winterkill on Arborvitae

13. The last question of the show this week was from a man who is struggling to get American arborvitae to grow here. He planted some last year, some more this spring, and is watering every day but some are not greening up. What is the problem?

A. Watering could be an issue. Rather than just watering each tree a short period of time every day, it would be better to water slowly for longer periods of time, but less often. We need to encourage the roots of the trees to grow deep for best longevity. Water the trees once a week for 15-20 minutes each time would be better. Also, add mulch around the trees to help with competition and root growth. Some of these trees may have had issues with winter desiccation, which is common in arborvitae trees. Watering over the winter, once a month on warmer days, will help them get through. Evergreen trees still transpire through the winter, if transpiration is more than the water they take in through their roots, desiccation can occur. Anti-desiccant products can be sprayed on the trees through the winter to help as well.

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

Yard & Garden: March 27, 2020

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for March 27, 2020. 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 31, 2020. 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: George Pinkerton, Owner of Roseland Nursery

1. The first question of the year was from a caller who has a line of rows and one in the middle died over the winter. He sent in a picture and the yews on either side of this dead one are healthy and green still. What would cause this and will it come back?

A. This could have died from a few different reasons. If winter deicing salts were continually piled up on the roots of this yew and not as much on the others, salt damage can do this type of damage. Too much water can do that as well, so if a downspout sits right next to this particular yew and not as close the other others, that can lead to death like this as well. In the photo, it looks like there is an extension on the downspout to go out past the yew, but water could have ran back toward the yew or the downspout may have recently been added. General winter desiccation can do this as well, but I would think you would see the same damage on at least one of the surrounding plants if it was a desiccation issue. The fact is, though that this yew has died back to the main stem and therefore will not regrow. The yews on either side of it should grow to fill in that gap over time. This dead yew could be replaced if the caller doesn’t want to wait for the others to fill in the gap.

2. This caller wants to know when she should prune her hydrangeas and knockout roses that were planted in 2018?

A. On the roses, it is best to wait until the 3rd year to prune them back heavily. Any dead branches can be removed at any time. However, with roses it is best to wait until mid-April before doing any pruning. Roses have a hollow stem, if moisture gets in that through the freezing and thawing of late winter, it can crack the crown and kill the plant.

As for the hydrangea, it is dependent on the type of hydrangea that you are dealing with. Some hydrangeas bloom on old wood, some on new wood, and some on both old and new wood. The bloom time dictates when it can be pruned to ensure blooms are not removed when pruning. On the show, she wasn’t sure which hydrangea she had, but she emailed me later and it was determined that she had a panicle hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata ‘Strawberry Sundae’. Panicle hydrangea grows quickly and gets large, so cut it back heavily in spring to shape it and keep it at a good size for the season. It can be pruned to the ground if desired. Or it can be pruned at any height up to 3 feet to create a taller plant. It blooms on new wood, so any new growth shoots will develop flower buds. Prune in spring before new growth starts.

3. A caller is planning on planting strawberries on top of an old storm cellar. What does he need to do to get them started and what does he need to know about strawberries?

A. It would be best if you start with a soil test. With the storm cellar underneath the soil it could have damaging qualities that the strawberries wouldn’t grow well in. The soil needs to be well-drained and have high Organic Matter. Incorporating compost this spring before planting should help with that. When you plant, understand that there are Everbearing and June Bearing strawberries. June berries don’t produce as long but they are larger strawberries than the Everbearing which produce most of the summer but with very small berries.

4. The bagworms were very bad last year. What does a person need to do now to reduce the population for this year?

A. Yes, the population is very high currently. On small trees, this is a good time of year to go out and pull the bags off the tree and smash them or put them into a bucket of soapy water. This is not the time of the year to spray anything for controlling bagworms. They should be sprayed shortly after emergence from the bag, before new bags are more than 1/2 inch in length. The timing for sprays is typically in mid-June, but can be earlier or later depending on the weather. Bt is a great insecticide for bagworms and will not harm many other pollinators, it only affects butterflies and moths. Tempo is a good product for bagworms as well. Make sure you can spray all the way to the top of the tree and get thorough coverage for best control. If you don’t have the equipment to do this, you may want to call a company to spray.

5. This caller has an aspen that is about 2 years old. Last year the tips of the branches and leaves turned black. Now it seems that those tips are dead. What is wrong with the tree and can it be cured?

A. This could be a canker, but it is hard to tell for sure. A picture would be helpful. Canker is a fungal disease in trees that will kill the tree from the point of infection outward on the branch or trunk. It will cause a branch to die or kill the tops of trees, especially in blue spruces.

6. A caller has scotch pines that are about 20 feet tall starting to turn brown, he is concerned it is pine wilt. Is there any control or prevention measures for pine wilt?

A. Unfortunately, pine wilt has no prevention and once your tree has pine wilt there is no control for it. It will kill the tree quickly, usually within 3 months. If one is getting this disease, they will likely all get it. It would be a good idea to start replacing the scotch pines now to begin new growth on different trees. Some good windbreak replacement trees include:

    • Ponderosa Pine
    • Black Hills Spruce
    • Blue spruce
    • White Pine
    • Douglas Fir
    • Concolor Fir
    • Eastern Red Cedar

7. Is it too early to overseed the lawn?

A. It is a bit early for overseeding the lawn. April is a good month, really mid to late April is best for overseeding. If you overseed to soon, the grass could germinate on a warm day, then the tender growth could die overnight on a cold night. The soil temperature is only about 45 degrees currently, turf will not germinate until the soil temperatures reach 50 degrees.

8. This caller wondered when he should prune his trees and what size of branch is too big to remove. He also wondered about a branch that died from bagworms last year. Should it be removed or will it regrow?

Pruning, branch collarA. The recommendations for pruning trees has changed over the past couple of years due to research from the International Society of Arboriculture. The optimum time is early summer, so we are now recommending that you prune trees in late May to early June. It is at this time that the trees are most actively growing, which will allow them to seal up the wound quickest. This will help the trees to have less decay and damage from insects and diseases following pruning. Also, remember it is best to remove branches that are 1/3 the diameter of the trunk or less.

The branch that died from bagworms is not going to regrow. It would be best to remove that branch. Dead branches can be removed at any time.

9. A caller will be planting potatoes soon. When planting seed potatoes, do the eyes need to sprout before planting?  Also, how do you use ashes in the garden?

A. No, when planting seed potatoes, you do not need to have sprouts on the eyes first. You do want to make sure that you cut them apart and let them dry a little prior to planting.

As for the ashes, don’t put too much on a garden. Ash can easily be added at too high of levels which will cause more problems in the garden and make it so some plants will not grow anymore. If you would like to use ashes in  your garden, only apply it one time in the winter months and at a very thin layer. Do not apply wood ash to a garden where potatoes will be planted, it promotes potato scab. Wood ash has a very high pH, it is very alkaline. Our soils are already quite alkaline, so it is likely that it isn’t necessary. A soil test should be done first to see where your pH level is. Most of our garden plants grow in 6.5-7.0 pH, if your soil is already in this level, do not add ashes.

10. The last caller of the day wants to know about using lime on the yard or using fertilizers in general.

A. Lime is not usually necessary on lawns. Lime is used to raise the pH of soils. It is often used in acidic soils, which is not common in southeast Nebraska. A soil test should be done prior to adding nutrients to the lawn, especially prior to adding lime. You can apply a fertilizer application as needed in mid to late April. Wait to see how the lawn greens up to determine if a spring application is necessary. If a lawn has a medium green hue in late April, skip the typical Arbor Day application in favor of one in late May to early June.

Yard and Garden: August 2, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for August 2, 2019. 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.

Guest Host: Dennis Ferraro, Extension Wildlife Specialist, UNL

1. The first question of the show was about pole green beans. They were planted in May and have been blooming but have not produced any beans yet. What is wrong with them?

A. This is likely due to the abnormal weather pattern we have seen this spring and summer. Make sure that the plants are mulched and watered evenly, as much as you can. Also, the warmer night temperatures will keep the beans from developing.

2. A caller has lilacs that are 2 feet tall. They have rust spots on the leaves. What is causing this?

A. This is likely due to a fungal disease. Make sure you are watering from the base of the plant and keep mulch around the plants. Fungicides can be used but if it is just on a few leaves, just pull those off and destroy them. It also is a little late to spray fungicides on the plants this year. At the end of the year clean up all the fallen leaves from around the plant to prevent re-infection next year.

3. This caller has turf that continually gets brown patch every year, it is only getting one hour of sunlight per day. What can be done to help reduce this problem?

A. Unfortunately, the turf isn’t growing well in this location. Turf is a full sun plant and needs at least 6-8 hours of full sun per day, not dappled light. In this location the turf will always have problems. It might be a good time to switch to another plant underneath the trees. Shade perennials or groundcovers could replace the turf and they would grow much better there. Sedges are another good choice that look very similar to the lawn but would tolerate the shade better.

4. What can be used for weeds in a driveway?

A. Roundup 365 would be a good option for this. It contains glyphosate as well as imazapic which lasts longer than the glyphosate alone. On the label it states to only apply once a year and to “spray until THOROUGHLY WET”, so for best results spray to this extent. Soil sterilants aren’t recommended because they often run off into adjacent plant material such as grass and kills it. You could also use pre-emergent herbicides in the spring to help with annual weeds. Always read and follow the label when using pesticides.

5. A caller has bagworms in his windbreak. What can be done for bagworms now?

A. It may be a little late in the year to treat chemically for bagworms. Once they get much larger than 1/2″ in length, their feeding is reduced and sprays are not as effective. Also, the majority of their damage is done for the year. If you decide not to spray, it would help to go out and pick as many of the bags off as you can and destroy them.

Sandbur, Rebekah D. Wallace, Univ of GA, Bugwood
Sandbur, Photo courtesy of Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

6. How do you control sandburs?

A. Sandburs are an annual grass, so using crabgrass pre-emergent herbicides in the spring will also kill germinating sandbur seeds. Also, sandburs are easily out-competed, so if you can get something else to grow in the area, the sandbur population will be reduced.

7. This caller has Japanese beetles on Linden trees. What can be done to control them? Will the trees die from this?

A. The trees should be fine next year and will leaf out fine. You can spray the trees now with Sevin or chlorothalonil. Next year, you can spray with these products after the bloom period or when the beetles first appear. Do NOT use a systemic insecticide on linden trees due to the high amount of pollinators that are found on lindens.

8. A caller has a problem with squirrels eating his sweet corn. What can be done to stop the squirrels?

A. For a small plot of corn, you can drape bird netting over the corn and use fishing weights to hold it down. From Control of Tree Squirrel Damage NebGuide “Wire mesh fences (no larger than ½-inch weave) topped with electrified wire or mesh enclosures may be practical for keeping squirrels out of small areas. Electrified wires are not recommended for use where there are children or pets. Little else can be done with squirrels in larger areas, other than re-moving the offending squirrels by cage trapping or shooting where safe and legal.”

9. This caller has an apple tree that is covered with Japanese Beetles. She sprayed Tempo on the tree, can she still use the apples?

A. No, fruit trees are not listed on the label. When using pesticides be sure that the plant you are spraying the pesticide on is on the label. With fruits and vegetables, watch the PHI (pre-harvest interval) to know how long to wait between application and harvest.

10. A caller has pin oaks and something seems to be eating the leaves. The leaves are dying and this is a young tree and he is trying to avoid using pesticides. What can be done?

A. This damage could be from grasshoppers or beetles, most of the damage seems to be happening at night so it could be chaffers that are active at night. Using a neem oil or insecticidal soap would work for these pests as an organic option.

11. This caller is having troubles with a groundhog. How can manage the groundhog?

A. Trapping works best for groundhogs. Put burlap over the cage because groundhogs are spooked easily. Use a half an apple or half an ear of corn for bait. Wire the cage open for a few days to allow the groundhog to take the bait and become more relaxed with the trap. Then, after a few days set the trap without wiring it open. Once you catch the groundhog, you cannot translocate it. It must be euthanized with a firearm if legal where you are or take it to animal control. Be sure to check local laws before controlling this groundhog. For more information, visit wildlife.unl.edu

12. A caller is trying to control his bagworms, what chemical can he use for bagworm control?

A. Tempo is a great choice, but sevin or any other general insecticide will work. It may be a little late in the year to treat chemically for bagworms. Once they get much larger than 1/2″ in length, their feeding is reduced and sprays are not as effective. Also, the majority of their damage is done for the year. If you are planning on still spraying, get it done very soon.

13. The last caller of the year called to say “Thank You!” He removed brome grass competition from around his trees, thanks to advice from the show, and now his trees are growing much better.

*Disclaimer ­- Reference to any specific brand named product does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, favoring or implied criticism if similar products are not mentioned by Nebraska Extension in Gage County.  Identifying specific pesticides are for the convenience of the reader and are generally most commonly available.  Always read and follow the pesticide label.

Yard and Garden: July 5, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 5, 2019. 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 2, 2019. 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 from the Nebraska Forest Service

1. The first question of the show was curious about bagworms. He needs to spray the trees in his backyard but he has a coy pond nearby. Will the sprays harm the fish in the pond?

A. It would be best to use Bt on the bagworms here to ensure that if sprays get into the pond it will not harm the fish. Bt is a product that affects only butterflies and moths and won’t harm other insects or wildlife. Bt works best on young, newly emerged bagworms, but there would still be time for that product this year.

Bagworm4
Bagworm

2. A caller has willow trees that are growing on a dam for a pond. How can they be controlled?

A. Rodeo or Garlon 3A are the 2 products listed for managing woody  plants or annual and perennial weeds in or around water in the Weed Management Guide from Nebraska Extension.

3. This caller has garden plants that were chewed off by rabbits. Will these plants regrow or are they dead?

A. If there are still a few leaves left on the plant they might still regrow. However, if there is really only a stem and a tiny leaf or two, they likely won’t regrow. It is getting quite late for replanting, so it might be best to just wait and see how they regrow.

4. A caller has an apple tree that broke off at a split in the tree in a storm. Now there is a hole in the tree. What can be sprayed or put into that hole to prevent further damage?

A. It is not recommended to fill holes in the tree because that can be harmful when the tree does need to be removed. It also will not stop decay that is occurring in the tree. Decay is a fungus and it will proceed through the tree even around a fill agent. If the decay is a problem in the tree, the tree may need to be removed before it becomes a hazard.

This caller also has a maple with dead branches in the top of the canopy. What would cause that?

A. Top dieback could come from a number of factors. It could be from a canker disease that occurs on stressed trees. Canker diseases will kill branches from the point of infection outward on the branch. The only cure for a canker would be to cut out the branch below the canker. Top dieback could also be from borers or a root issue. Borers come into a stressed tree and will cause decreased flow of water and nutrients through the tree causing the top of the branches to die. If more soil is added to roots, causing decreased airflow to the roots, top dieback can occur. Root issues such as damage to the roots or a girdled root can also cause top dieback in the tree. Root issues cannot be fixed. If you notice borer holes, you can use a systemic insecticide containing Imidacloprid, such as Merit.

5. A walk-in listener wants help with identification of a weedy grass species that he is having trouble controlling.

A. This looks to be annual bluegrass, which can be difficult to control. Use pre-emergent herbicides such as Drive or Pendulum in September or use Tenacity as a post-emergent herbicide in the spring or summer. For more information, view this Turf iNfo on Annual Bluegrass Control.

6. This caller has maple trees that have limbs reaching out over his house, some of the limbs are dead. When and how far should these limbs be pruned to ensure they don’t fall on the house and cause problems?

A. It would be best to find a Certified Arborist to do this to ensure it is done correctly and to avoid damage to the house. Remove all dead branches. When shortening branches, cut back to a side branch that is at least 1/2 the size of the limb you are removing. Anytime would be ok, but the best time for a maple is later in the spring, to avoid heavy sap flow if pruned in the early spring or late winter.

7. A caller accidentally spilled hydraulic oil from his tractor onto his lawn. There is now a dead area in the soil. What is a quicker way to get grass growing back there other than to wait?

A. It might help to dig out the soil in that area and replace it with new topsoil. Dig out around the area of dead grass and dig 4-6 inches deep. It would be best to just wait until early September to do this so that it can be reseeded right away.

8. This caller wants to use Roundup around the base of fruit trees to kill grass. Should regular Roundup be used or could Extended Control Roundup be used?

A. Use basic Roundup that only contains glyphosate in this location. The Extended Control Roundup contains Imazapic for longer control and shouldn’t be used around fruits and vegetables. The label for the Extended Control Roundup states ‘Do not use for vegetable garden preparation or in and around fruits and vegetables’. Always read and follow labels of pesticides.

This caller also wanted to know what is wrong with her apricot trees, the fruits seem to be rotting as they fall from the tree?

A. This is likely due to brown rot. Next year, use orchard fruit tree sprays through the growing season. The orchard fruit sprays should be used every 10-14 days through the growing season, except during the bloom period and when ready to harvest.

9. The last caller of the day wants to know if he can eat the fruits off a purple leaf sand cherry? Also, can he shear it or is it too old to start that now that it is 5-6 years old and hasn’t been sheared yet?

A. The berries are not eaten from purple leaf sand cherry, this plant is more for ornamental value. These fruits are scavenged by birds instead. This is also a plant that won’t grow well if sheared. It is best to just selectively remove branches back to side-shoots to reduce the size.

*Disclaimer ­- Reference to any specific brand named product does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, favoring or implied criticism if similar products are not mentioned by Nebraska Extension in Gage County.  Identifying specific pesticides are for the convenience of the reader and are generally most commonly available.  Always read and follow the pesticide label.

Yard and Garden: June 7, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 7, 2019. 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 2, 2019. 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: John Porter, Urban Ag Program Coordinator with Nebraska Extension

2019-06-07 10.05.021. The first question of the show was from tomatoes that had odd shaped leaves. What would cause that?

A. This is from herbicide drift. Tomatoes are very sensitive to drift from 2,4-D or Dicamba products. They should grow out of the damage, however because we don’t know exactly what product hit these tomatoes there is no way to know for sure when the product will be out of the tomatoes. I can’t say when or if these tomato plants will be safe for consumption this year.

2. A caller has moths in his house. He had brought in a sample previously for us to identify. What kind of moth is it and how can he get rid of it?

A. This insect is an Indian Meal Moth, a common pantry pest. This could have been brought in with foods purchased at the grocery store. Be sure to store all products containing cereal, grain, rice, flour, or pasta in air tight, insect proof containers such as canisters or Tupperware containers. Things like cake mixes or flour can be stored in the freezer. Clean up all cabinet shelves from crumbs. Discard infested food products. For more information on Pantry Pests, visit this website from Lancaster County Extension.

3. This caller has hosta plants that are getting holes in the leaves. What would cause this?

A. This is likely from slugs. They can be controlled by pushing a shallow container into the ground near the hostas so that the top of the container is at soil level. Fill the container with stale beer and it will attract the slugs so they fall into the container and die. You can also put cardboard over the ground at night and then pick it up during the day to kill the slugs underneath. There is also a product for slug control, called sluggo.

4. A caller has pampas grass that is dying from the center and would like to kill it. How can that be done?

A. If the dead center is what is bothering you, dig up the plant and divide it into multiple smaller plants. Pampas grass often gets a dead center with age and just needs to be divided. If you still want to kill it, cut it short and spray it with roundup or other glyphosate product to kill it over time. You can also try cutting it back and keeping a layer of mulch on it to smother the plant to death.

5. This caller has a maple seedling forest in their lawn. What can be done to kill all these maple trees?

A. Keep mowing over them, they will die. They don’t have enough roots to keep living after being mowed off.

6. How fast will maple seedlings to grow, if he decides to try to cultivate one or two of these seedlings for a new tree?

A. They are tiny, so it will take quite a while, but it can be done. However, these seeds are most likely from silver maples, that is more of a weedy species of maple tree. They grow easily and fast and therefore often break a lot of branches in storms. There would be better maple choices than silver maples such as Sugar maple or Red maple.

7. The next question came from another walk-in listener who brought in a weed for identification.

A. This is goutweed which is also called Bishop’s weed. There are ornamental varieties of this plant. However, if it is growing where it was not planted it is a weed and glyphosate or Roundup will work on that. If it is below 80 degrees for three days, you can spray 2,4-D. Don’t spray 2,4-D if it is too hot or humid because it can turn into a gas and move to non-target plants.

Spruce cone, Tom DeGomez, Univ of AZ, Bugwood
Blue Spruce Cone, Photo Courtesy of Tom DeGomez, University of Arizona, Bugwood.com

8. A caller has a spruce tree that is 30 feet tall. At the top of the tree it had red structures that now look like bagworms. She sprayed. Are those bagworms and should she spray again?

A. These are actually the cones of the tree. There are male and female cones on spruce trees. The cones can start out pink and then turn into a cone and the other cones are smaller. It is too soon for bagworms to be out this year. So you will need to spray for bagworms again in a couple of weeks when they hatch if you also have a problem with bagworms.

9. The next caller has a peach tree that was a volunteer from a seed pit. It now is loaded with peaches developing on the branches. Should it be thinned?

A. Yes, they should be thinned. Too many peaches on the branch can pull the branch down and break it which would be very damaging to the tree. Also, if you thin the peaches it can increase the size and sugar content. Thin them to only one per cluster and one peach every 6-8 inches along the branches.

10. A caller planted a new yard this spring. Now he has noticed a weed with a small yellow flower growing in it. What can he spray on his lawn to control this weed?

A. This could be either black medic, sorrel, or a sweet clover. These weeds are all controlled best in the fall of the year with a 2,4-D product. You can spray the entire yard in mid-September and again in mid-October for best control. Spraying now could be too hot causing the 2,4-D to turn into a gas and move to non-target plants. Also, spraying now won’t get a full kill on the plant, it will just burn back for a while.

11. This caller wants to know how to control voles in his lawn?

A. Place snap-type mouse traps in the runs of the voles. Place them perpendicular to the run. They can be baited with peanut butter or nothing at all. If there are neighborhood cats around, place a box with small openings on both ends around the traps to avoid harming the cats.

He also wanted to know why the needles on his pine trees are brown?

A. This is likely from Dothistroma needle blight. For best results the trees should be sprayed with a copper fungicide in mid-May and again in mid to late June. Spraying now would help reduce the spread, but spray earlier next year.

12. A caller wants to know why if he has plastic landscape sheets covered with mulch that slugs can get through that? Also, where can you buy sluggo?

A. The plastic and mulch make for a good environment for the slugs. They are able to hide under that during the day where it is dark and cool and they can climb out through the holes around the plants. It would be better to remove the plastic. Sluggo should be available at hardware stores, it is a granule product.

13. This caller has 2 Asian pears with ants and wasps in the fruit. The fruit also turns brown and fall off the trees. What is causing this and how can it be controlled?

A. The ants and wasps are not related to the fruit falling from the trees. The ants and wasps are also not harmful to the fruit development. The ants may be on the tree if there are aphids on the tree. Aphids produce honeydew as an excrement and the ants follow the aphids around to feed on the honeydew. The fruits falling from the trees could be from brown rot caused by weather conditions. Use a copper fungicide or orchard fruit spray with fungicide to help prevent this from occurring.

14. Can you divide and move lilacs?

A. This type of plant wouldn’t divide well. However you can start new plants by layering which is where you pull down on one branch and stake it into the ground nearby until it produces roots. Once the roots develop, you can cut it from the main plant and move it to another location. Lilacs can be transplanted, but it should be done in the fall.

15. The final caller of the show has peach trees with a lot of peaches. As they are maturing, they get a brown mold. What is causing this?

A. This is a disease called brown rot. It can be controlled with fungicide sprays. Apply the fungicide multiple times through the season. You can use an orchard fruit tree spray through the growing season every 10-14 days to control insect and disease issues.

He also wanted to know what to do when planting rhubarb to ensure success?

A. Plant it in well-drained soil because rhubarb gets root rot if it sits in water. Add compost when planting for fertility. Plant it so the crown is a little above the ground level, it often gets planted too deep which can cause crown rot as well. Other than that, it is fairly easy to grow. Be sure to wait 3 years before harvesting from the plant to allow the roots time to become fully established.

 

Yard and Garden: May 31, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 31, 2019. 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 2, 2019. 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: Kyle Broderick, Plant Pathology Extension Educator, UNL

1. The first caller of the show wants to know how to control sandburs without chemicals to avoid harming birds and squirrels?

A. Sandburs can be controlled with pre-emergent grass herbicides in the spring or post-emergent herbicides for grasses such as Roundup after they have germinated later in the spring. All pesticides are approved by the EPA to ensure safety for wildlife and birds as long as they are handled correctly, but it is a personal preference for use of chemicals. Integrated Pest Management should always be used to help be the most effective and to be the most economical. For sandburs, hoeing or hand pulling can be effective to keep seed from producing for next year. Also, if you can get something else to grow in that area, that will help to outcompete with the sandburs. If the soil is compacted and sandy, where sandburs prefer, it might be better to add organic matter to the soil to improve the growing location for turf or other plants.

2. This caller wants to know how to get rid of carpenter bees?

A. Carpenter bees are a good pollinator insect. If they aren’t damaging the structure of a building, they can be left alone. However, if they are digging into framing for a shed or other building, filling the holes in with wood putty should work. Otherwise, you can spray a little sevin in the holes as well. You might also try putting up a Bee Hotel that may be more desirable to them than the structure of your building. View this article on Carpenter Bees for more information. View this NebGuide on Creating a Solitary Bee Hotel to learn how to build and place a bee hotel on your property.

India Meal moth sitting on wall with rule for size comparison.
Indian Meal Moth Adult by a Ruler. Photo by Vicki Jedlicka, Extension Assistant

3. An insect was brought in for identification and control methods.

A. This insect is an Indian Meal Moth, a common pantry pest. This could have been brought in with foods purchased at the grocery store. Be sure to store all products containing cereal, grain, rice, flour, or pasta in air tight, insect proof containers such as canisters or Tupperware containers. Things like cake mixes or flour can be stored in the freezer. Clean up all cabinet shelves from crumbs. Discard infested food products. For more information on Pantry Pests, visit this website from Lancaster County Extension.

4. A caller has spots in the yard with a small depression that has a powdery material and what looks like the remnants of a mushroom. What causes this and can it be controlled?

A. This could be from a puffball. Puffballs are a type of mushroom that when they become mature many spores will puff out of the structure that does not have a stalk like traditional mushrooms. After it has puffed, the pieces left behind are leathery and dark brown to black in color. Puffballs can get into a lawn from low fertility and from decaying tree roots or other organic matter. Maintain good lawn care practices and maintain adequate Nitrogen fertilizer that will help to break down woody tissues. Dig out the puffballs as they are seen in the area.

5. This caller has a maple tree that had a great deal of seeds dropped this spring. Now, there are millions of tiny maple seedlings growing in the lawn. What can be done to kill these seedlings off?

A. In the lawn, just continue to mow, the maple tree saplings will not be able to continually regrow and will die. In a garden setting, it would be best to hand pull or hoe out the seedlings. In a garden, careful applications of Roundup could be used as long as desirable plants are not sprayed. Mulch will also help to kill off the seedlings in garden locations.

6. Are bagworms out yet?

A. No, they haven’t been seen emerging yet. We are behind a little this year due to the cooler weather. Be checking often for emergence in your trees.

7. A caller has an ash tree that had green balls develop last year on the tree. They are still on the tree, what can be done about these? Should she be treating for Emerald Ash Borer?

A. The green ball structures are from an ash flower gall. This gall is from tiny eriophyid mites that feed on the flowers in the early spring. These galls can stay on the tree for more than one season, so these on her tree are likely from last year. Treatment is not necessary because these galls are an aesthetic issue and will not harm the tree. If treating the tree, sprays with sevin could be done in the early spring as the flowers develop. As for Emerald Ash Borer, it is best to wait until the borer is found within 15 miles of the tree to prevent excess damage to the tree and to avoid using chemicals for an insect that hasn’t been found in the area. Watch for signs of EAB in your tree and consult an arborist or your local Extension Office if you see these signs. Damage from EAB consists of: top dieback, bark falling off the tree, D-shaped exit holes, increased woodpecker damage, or increased suckering at the base of the tree.

Yard and Garden: May 24, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 24, 2019. 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 2, 2019. 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: Donnie Engelhardt, Assistant Manager of the Little Blue NRD

1. The first caller of the show has what he suspects is foxtail in his lawn. He has used pre-emergent crabgrass control and it has not helped. How can he control it? He is also having trouble with zoysia grass on the east side of his house where this foxtail is growing. What can he do to improve zoysia?

A. If this is foxtail, crabgrass pre-emergent herbicides should work on it. I would assume that it may be something else if that didn’t work. This could be little barley, which is a winter annual weed that would be seeding now while the foxtail would not be yet. Little barley is often confused with foxtail, especially this time of the year. For more information on little barley, visit this article on Little Barley from Turf.unl.edu

As for the zoysia grass not growing, there could be a lot of issues with this. If it is on the East side of the house, it may not be enough sunlight for zoysia. Since this is a warm season grass, it is very crucial that the grass gets enough light and it is warm enough for best growth. Also, fertilization schedules would be quite different from cool season turf. Zoysia grass should only be fertilized in the summer months. Warm season grasses really only need up to 2 fertilizer applications per year, if any. Fertilize in later May-June and again in July-August. If fertilizing in the spring and fall, this can harm the zoysia grass.

2. A caller wants to plant either a peach tree or a cherry tree. Which will be better and do either of them get cedar-apple rust?

A. Neither peaches nor cherries will get cedar-apple rust. If you are planning on planting just one, for the growing conditions in southeast Nebraska, you would have more luck with a cherry tree. Peaches are not long lived in Nebraska due to our weather conditions. According to John Porter, Nebraska Extension Educator, “Peaches often have cracking due to rapid freezing and thawing. It can be pretty severe when the fluctuations are large and often. This leads to the gummosis and also damage/death of branches.  Its one of the reasons peaches aren’t well suited for Nebraska.” If cherry trees are chosen, tart cherries are best. Bing and other sweet cherry types will not grow in Nebraska.

3. This caller wants to know when he can plant his asparagus?

A. Asparagus is typically planted in the early spring with other spring crops such as broccoli and carrots. However, with the weather as cool as it has been, it would still be fine to plant it this year. Get it in the ground soon and make sure that the soil remains evenly moist in the hot, dry part of the summer.

4. A caller has an established wind break but mowing now is difficult. Can he prune the branches up so he can mow under the tree without damaging it?

A. Trimming dead branches around the bottom of the tree would be fine, don’t go too high or it will not be as effective as a windbreak. If the branches are still alive and full with needles all the way to the ground, it wouldn’t need to be mowed because the turf will die under that condition.

This caller also wondered about using a granule on the ground around trees to control bagworms?

A. The granule chemical controls he is referring to would be those containing imidacloprid. Bagworms are not a listed ‘pest controlled’ on the imidacloprid label so it is not a legal practice to use it on them. It is best to stick with chemicals such as Bt or Tempo for control of bagworms. Spray them when the bags are up to 1/2 inch in length for best control. I would assume that will be a little later this year due to the cooler spring.

5. What are the benefits of letting asparagus seed out?

A. Asparagus is a perennial crop that needs to have the season of growth to build a bigger, stronger plant. All of our plants need time to grow and build sugars for root expansion. Since we cut off all the asparagus through the beginning of the season, we need to allow them to grow through the rest of the summer.

6. Is it too late to plant strawberries or summer bulbs?

A. It is best to plant strawberries in the early spring. They could still be planted yet this year, but some varieties may not produce this year. Planting this late would cause problems getting the plants established, so be sure to mulch them and water them frequently until they are established. June bearing varieties would be past the bloom time and would not produce this year, but you could plant them to get them established so you can have a harvest next year. If planting everbearing this late, they may still produce later this summer. It would be best to cut off early season flowers that may develop to allow the plants to become more established before harvesting later in the summer after the plants are more established. Summer bulbs are best planted after the chance of frost for the year has passed. You would be past that now and still be in good time to get the bulbs into the ground. It will be later before they start to bloom, though.

green-asparagus-pixabay7. A caller wanted to know what type of manure would be best for asparagus fertilization?

A. Cow, chicken, or pig are good manure options for the vegetable garden, asparagus included. Fresh manure should be applied in the fall to allow time for the bacteria in it to break down before harvesting. For food safety guidelines, fresh manure needs to be applied 120 days prior to harvest, which means the fall in Nebraska. If it is composted manure, it would be fine in the spring.

8. This caller has apple trees. Last year the apples turned moldy while they were still on the tree. What would cause this?

A. There are a lot of different types of diseases that can lead to moldy apples. It could be from apple scab, sooty mold, powdery mildew, or black rot. Using an orchard fruit tree spray through the season would help reduce these diseases. Also, be sure to clean up infected fruits and leaves at the end of the season to reduce the incidence of disease from one year to the next.

9. A caller wants to transplant some foot-tall cedars from his pasture. Is it too late or can this still be done now?

A. It is getting quite late in the year to transplant trees. The concern is for when the shift from spring-like weather to summer hot, dry weather will occur. Typically June starts getting very hot and dry and a newly transplanted tree would not have any root system to get water if it gets dry. It might be better now to wait until fall, September or October. If the trees will be moved to a location where they will be watered adequately, it would be ok, but for best results now, it would be advised to wait until cooler temperatures return in the fall.

10. This caller has a lawn that is thin and weeds are starting to take over. When should he reseed this lawn? Would it be better to just kill it all off and start from scratch?

A. At this point in the year, it would be best to wait until the fall to overseed or reseed lawns. The turf will come up but it will likely get too hot and dry for it this summer, which will be here before we know it. It would be best to just overseed and thicken up the grass that is already established rather than kill it all off and start over. Starting from scratch takes a lot of time and it can be quite difficult. It would be easier to already have something covering the ground while you overseed to keep the weeds down. If weeds are a problem, you can use a mesotrione product, often found in Tenacity, at seeding this fall to kill the weeds when you overseed.

11. A caller wants to know if you can prune a magnolia now to reduce growth? Also, can the suckers around the base of the tree be removed now?

A. Yes, the magnolia hasn’t produced flower buds for next year yet, so it would be fine. Suckers can be removed anytime through the season. Suckers are growth that takes energy from the tree and have no real purpose so it would be best to remove those as they grow before they get too big.

12. Can a bee house still be hung outside yet this spring or is it too late to get much activity?

A. Yes, you would still be fine. These solitary bees are still out moving around. For next year, it would be better to have it out in April. For information on building your own solitary bee hotel, visit this NebGuide

13. The last caller of the day has apricot trees that are just for wildlife consumption. These fruits have not yet fully developed but many of them fell to the ground in storms recently. Her dog is now eating those fruits that have fallen. Is that toxic for dogs to eat them?

A. After discussion with a local veterinarian, the pit is the part of the apricot or peach that would be toxic to the dogs. If these are immature apricots, the pit would not be developed and it shouldn’t harm the dogs. That being said, it might be best to clean up these dropped fruits to be safest.