Crop Update: By the time you read this I truly hope and pray we’ve received some rain for the entire area who receive this! Al Dutcher and I have been somewhat frustrated regarding the drought monitor reacting to short-term precipitation events over long-term trends. We both spoke at a meeting this week where he shared parts of this area have 6-8″ deficits dating back to the beginning of our water year (October 1). The soil moisture sensor ground-truthing I’ve been doing with area farmers shows that the larger rains only helped the top two feet of the profile and rains have been spotty since. I think the driest portion of the area seems to be from Lawrence to Bladen south. Drought monitor did put a portion of our area back into ‘abnormally dry’ again and you can see the updated soil moisture readings for the region at http://jenreesources.com.
We were blessed with cooler temperatures which helped slow the crop progression. The heat was pushing crops along quickly which can negatively impact yields as we discussed in a recent CropWatch article. The cooler temps with humidity and leaf wetness also favored gray leaf spot, though, and I’ve seen it move up to a leaf below the ear in several fields in several counties this past week. Every field situation may differ so it’s important to check your specific fields.
Soybean Management Field Days: It’s hard to believe but this is the 20th year of Soybean Management Field Days! They will be held August 7-10 at four locations across the State beginning with 9 a.m. registration and concluding at 2:30 p.m.:
Kenesaw — Tuesday, Aug. 7, Dean Jacobitz Farm
Albion — Wednesday, Aug. 8, John and Mike Frey Farm
Hartington — Thursday, Aug. 9, Ed Lammers Farm
Cedar Bluffs — Friday, Aug. 10, Ray Jr. and Kevin Kucera
- Marketing, Risk Management and Farm Policy
- Weed Management: Cover Crops and Weed Control, Conventional vs. Traited, Soybean Variety Production
- Cover Crops: Managing Soybean Insects and Pathogens
- Cover Crops and Soybean Production Irrigation Management, Soil Fertility, and Cover Crop Research
Horticulture Update: It’s been a tough year for garden produce! The heat has affected flower set, pollination, and fruit production on many types of plants. I’ve also received many questions about tomato leaves curling. Leaf curling can be due to many things such as water stress, virus, and herbicides. Much of what I’m seeing now is water stress-related where uneven watering is occurring or because of the amount of leaves present (especially on heirloom plants) and the plant’s inability to keep up with transpiration. Have also received questions on bumpy tomato stems. The ‘bumps’ are actually adventitious roots (also known as tomato stem primordia) where if they touch the soil they’d form roots. Above ground, they are just these bumps and are present when we have high humidity or overwatering. These conditions are also being favored by the heavier one-time rain events that have been received during the growing season this year.
Squash vine borers causing tunneling in crown and vines of zucchini plants.
Also lots of questions this week regarding cucumber, squash, and melon vines dying! There’s a number of potential culprits. Most affected zucchini (including mine) and pumpkins contain squash vine borers. The female moth lays eggs at the base of plants where the eggs will hatch and the caterpillars will bore into the stem. The borer is white or cream colored with a brown head and can get to be 1″ long. They tend to prefer squash over melons and cucumbers. So what can you do now? Kathleen Cue, Extension Educator in Dodge County shares “If plants look good but holes in the stem indicate infestation, a knife can be used to cut with the grain of the stalk to find the borers. Use the point of the knife to pierce them and don’t be surprised if more than one borer is found in a stem. Once the borers are removed, cover the cut area with soil to encourage new roots higher up on the stem. Champion pumpkin growers will place soil over many nodes (the place where leaves emerge from the stem) along the length of vines to encourage lots of rooting. This gives plants greater resiliency if the squash vine borer has destroyed the crown of the plant.” So, if you’re still desiring more squash and pumpkins, that’s one option for you. If your plants are completely destroyed, you can just remove all the dead material to remove any actively feeding caterpillars as well. For next year, make sure to rotate the area where you plant your vine crops. Area master gardeners have shared they put aluminum foil around the stem base of vine crops to keep the borer larvae from penetrating the vines. Another option is to apply insecticides like carbaryl or permethrin around the base of stems. Trapping the adults in June by using yellow-colored containers filled with water can provide an indication when the moths are flying. You can then use floating row covers over the plants to prevent egg laying and remove them once flowering begins to allow pollination to occur. I will discuss other vine crop problems next week.
Reminder of York County Fair this week!