Monday, February 24, 2020

Crepe Myrtle Bark Scale

Horticulture Hotline 02/24/20
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

I was at a friend’s birthday party the other day in Mt Pleasant (yes, people I work with I do do something other than write recommendations on how to correct your soil based on soil test), and several people commented to me how they enjoy reading the Horticulture Hotline in the Moultrie News. I let them know they should thank Vickey Boyd (The Publisher) and Cecilia Brown (The Editor) for putting up with me for so long.

It is amazing the changes in technology in the 30 + years I have been writing this column. I use to drive my article to the editor because I didn’t trust my fax machine. Then I started to fax even though I still didn’t understand how it worked. Now I email the article to Cecilia.

Crepe Myrtle Bark Scale (CMBS) is getting closer and closer to us. I have had friends in Charlotte sending me pictures for years and now CMBS is in Columbia. CMBS is in parts of Georgia, Texas and many other states. It is a scale that produces a lot of honey dew and eventually turns the tree black. Since the Crepe Myrtle is known for its beautiful smooth and sculptured bark, having sooty mold all over it is not desirable. The health of the tree and the blooms are also affected.

Crepe Myrtle Bark Scale looks like mealybugs or cottony cushion scale to me. CMBS has crawler stages like other scale that you can try to target with a contact like horticultural oil mixed with Bifen. Just be careful of overspray onto flowering plants that pollinators might be visiting. Because of the pollinators, the long-term residual and the difficulty of spraying a tree, I like to use a drench. Some good drenches available contain imidacloprid (Dominion, Tree and Shrub Drench) or dinotefuran (Safari, Zylam).

If your Crepe Myrtle is in a bed with many other plants, using Safari as a basal trunk application works best. If you use a drench and a lot of plants roots are sucking up the material, you might not get enough product into the tree you are treating. With a basal bark treatment, you apply the product directly to the tree itself (in the old days we used to paint product onto the trunk). Since Crepe Myrtles have very thin bark, this form of application is perfect for this type of tree, and none of the surrounding plants steal the active ingredient.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Time To "Get er Done" Larry The Cable Guy

Horticulture Hotline 02/17/20
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

The Tulip Magnolia (Saucer Magnolia) is blooming in the Lowcountry.  It is time to be sure the winter projects have been completed, and the proactive spring projects in the yard and around the house are in the works.

Trees grow. Areas of grass might be shaded and thin that were once high-quality turf. Now, might be a good time to cut new bed lines and let the tree have more room to grow. Check the sides of your house for limbs rubbing the paint off of your house. The paint protects your house like your skin protects you or like bark protects a tree.

Look above your roof line and see if any limbs are growing above your roof that could allow varmints (squirrels, raccoons, or the loveable possum) into your attic. Make sure your source of power to your house is free of limbs. Hire an insured arborist if you need some pruning done.

Any transplanting or planting of new trees or shrubs should be done as soon as you can. Try to get them in the ground before the plant flushes out new growth or blooms. If you are buying a blooming plant that you want a specific color or to match a color you already have, you may have to wait to see that the bloom on the plant (don’t always trust the tags) is the color you want; otherwise, the sooner you can plant the better.

When planting remember the Diehard Transplant, it is like the yogurt Jamie Lee Curtis (great in the old version of Fun with Dick and Jane) advertises (full of probiotics). Diehard Transplant adds all the good bacteria, wetting agents and fungi into the soil that a plant needs to help with survival. Remember the old saying when planting, “plant it high and it will not die!”

Intice 10 perimeter bait is a great product to put out around the perimeter of your house for roaches, crickets, sowbugs, earwigs, silverfish, millipedes and certain ants. Intice 10 is a LEED tier 3 product and N.O.P. (National Organics Program) compliant, so it is considered very safe.

Intice 10 should also be broadcasted in the yard for mole crickets. Since Over n Out changed the active ingredient away from Fipronil, mole crickets have become a major turf pest again. Mole crickets come to the surface on these warm days and love to eat this bait!

Judging from the flea products we have been selling at Possum’s, now would be a good time to get ahead of the fleas. Be sure to use a product with a growth regulator. Pivot Ultra Plus, Precor 2000, Ultracide, IG Regulator, Alpine Flea Insecticide with IGR are just a few products that will get you ahead of the curve. The Prefurred line of products that you apply directly to the animal also works very well.

Get out your preemergent, or forever fight weeds!! I usually wait until my bald cypress starts to “needle out” and then I go on an organic binge with SeaHume, Cotton Burr Compost, worm castings and others; however, this year I’m already seeing new growth on some plants, so I guess it is time for the organics. Of course, anytime is a great time for organics.

If you have a history with fungus or insects on certain plants, sanitation, lime / sulfur, and your fungicide or insecticide of choice is good to put out now to protect the new growth. With these cloudy, overcast days brown patch / large patch has been flourishing in lawns.

Other things – make sure mower is good to go – air filter is key, prune roses, work on breeding sights for mosquitoes, kill winter weeds, spray neem oil or horticultural oils for overwintering insects, apply Dominion Drench to perennial insect loving plants…

Spring in the Lowcountry… Work hard then go to an oyster roast!

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.

Monday, February 3, 2020

The Fungus Among Us

Horticulture Hotline 02/03/20
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

While walking and driving around it seems that brown patch/ large patch/ Zoysia patch has invaded the Lowcountry. As the cooler weather comes and the grass growth rate slows down, large patch / brown patch / zoysia patch fungus will begin to show up in our lawns. This disease is always present in the lawn, it just manifests itself when the environmental conditions are right and your grass cannot outgrow the damage. Without any sustained cold temperatures, this disease is slowly spreading across lawns as the temperatures that favor its growth keep coming into play. Our temperatures keep creeping into the high 60’s even though it is winter. Brown patch loves temperatures in the 60”s.

Since this disease is a big problem in the Lowcountry, knowing that it is a soil borne disease can help you with control strategies.  Being a soil borne disease, you know that it will reoccur in the same areas year after year.  There are not any spores flying through the air like many of your leaf spot fungi, so the disease is easier to control.

As a soil borne fungus, if you map the areas that you have the disease, you can concentrate your control efforts (dollars) into a smaller area, putting less control products into the environment.  If your yard is 5,000 sq ft usually you might have a few infected areas which might total approx. 500 ft.  Instead of buying control products to treat 5,000 sq ft, you can concentrate your efforts into the 500 ft (i.e. 10% of your total yard).  If Large Patch was an air borne fungus with spores, you would have to treat the entire yard because air borne fungi spreads a lot quicker than soil borne fungi.

As your grass is going into dormancy and the temperatures begin to cool at night, large patch is ready to attack your grass. Large patch will go inactive when the temperatures get very cold; however, it will become active again when the temperatures favor the disease. If you have discolored areas in your yard that appear to be a disease, check with someone that knows. Even if it is during a cold phase and the disease does not appear to be active, you can still put out a systemic fungicide for protection. Our soils do not get so cold that the plant will not absorb the fungicide with its roots. Remember treating a fungus with a systemic fungicide is like getting a flu shot – you do it preventatively before you have the disease. In this case, when you want the disease to stop spreading.

 A good granular one-two punch control strategy is T-Methyl and Strobe Pro G (all systemic fungicides that get into the plant).  Use these products in areas where you have had Large Patch previously at the preventive rates and intervals recommended on the labels. Be sure to use T-Methyl with Strobe Pro G, so you are switching chemistry classes and modes of action. Good control early on can help avoid flare ups in the spring also.

Large patch usually likes wet, heavy thatch, improper nutrition, and/or compacted soils.  Culturally you need to manage your irrigation system, raise any low areas, and correct drainage problems.  Reducing thatch (at Possum’s we have a great organic granular product for controlling thatch), maintaining proper fertility levels, and aerating to alleviate compaction, will also help control large patch. A healthy turf (following soil test derived feeding schedule) with a soil with a lot of bio-diversity (use of cotton burr compost, SeaHume and other organics) has shown to help manage this disease.  

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.