Category Archives: Horticulture

Japanese Beetles

Japanese Beetles: Areas of the State have seen Japanese beetles for a few weeks. They’ve shown up strong in the York/Seward county area this past week with the number of calls I’ve received.

Unfortunately they cause two problems. The larvae are grubs that can impact our lawns. IMG_20200702_085759The adult beetle is ½” in length with a metallic green head and white ‘tufts’ that look like spots on its abdomen. Adults emerge from grassy areas like lawns, ditches, and even fields; however, they don’t emerge at the same time. They emerge over a 4-6 week period beginning in late June and last for around 4-6 weeks. There’s one generation per year. Adult beetles feed, mate, and lay eggs in lawns and grassy areas. The eggs hatch 10-14 days later into grub larvae and feed on turf and grassy areas in the August time-frame. They also over-winter in turf and grassy areas.

Adults feed on 300 plant species, but their favorites are ones that are in many of our

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Japanese beetles making quick work of my knockout roses. In this garden area, they are also impacting my cannas but not my lillies, beesbalm, salvia, milkweed, or sunflowers.

landscapes (roses, cannas, marigolds, grapes, Virginia creeper, and trees such as lindens, birch, Japanese and Norway maples, cherry, plum, peach, American elm). They also feed on soybean and corn crops. They love hot weather and full sun and feed on leaf tissue during the day (leaf tissue will look skeletonized or lacy and turn brown). Trees may be severely impacted with browning occurring from the top to bottom. Thankfully healthy trees will re-leaf next year since the underlying twigs and branches aren’t damaged-even if the entire canopy is impacted this year. It’s not recommended to remove branches or trees.

DO NOT use Japanese beetle traps!!! Research shows they attract beetles to the landscape and many homeowners I’ve talked with will attest to this!

Beetle Control: Wait till dusk (7-9 p.m.) before trying to control beetles as they are less

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One control option: Wait till 7-9 p.m. then drown Japanese beetles in soapy water after removing them from plants. This method of control takes diligence over several nights.

active then and to reduce impact to pollinators. Organic means include hand-removing beetles by knocking them into soapy water. You can also spray trees with water to knock them down to the ground and then drown in soapy water. This takes diligence over many days. With heavy beetle infestations, it’s not uncommon to literally have scoop shovels full of the beetles when removing from trees. Neem and Pyola are two organic sprays that will protect for 3-7 days. Applying these products regularly (once per week) can also be effective as a repellent.

Japanese beetles often impact the same flowering plants that other pollinators visit. Use insecticide products correctly to avoid damage to pollinators. Avoid spraying insecticides on windy days or when pollinators are present (best to spray late in day near dusk) and be sure to read and follow all label instructions and harvest intervals (for cherries, plums, etc.). Conventional insecticides can provide 2 weeks of control: pyrethroid products like Tempo and Bayer Advanced Lawn & Garden Multi-Insect Killer (cyfluthrin) or Ortho Bug B Gone (bifenthrin). Sevin (carbaryl) is another option although more dangerous for bees.

Grub Control: Turf damage can be evident in Aug./Sept. Products that control common white grub can also provide control of Japanese beetle grubs and should be applied mid-to-late June. Dylox can be used as a rescue treatment if grub control is needed later on and no grub products were applied in the spring.

Next Year: Systemic products like imidacloprid can be used as a soil drench around plants (apply around Mother’s Day). These products can’t be used on Linden trees. You may also wish to swap out more susceptible plants for those less susceptible as you observe which plants they tend to impact most in your backyard.

Also seeing green June beetles and this shows the difference between them and Japanese beetles. Green June beetles don’t have the same impact on leaf damage. They do lay eggs in turf which become grubs as well.

green june beetle vs japanese beetle-purdue

Green June Beetle (left) and Japanese beetle (right). Photo via Purdue Entomology.

Click to access Japanese%20Beetle%20Tips%20and%20Tricks.pdf

JenREES 6-14-20

Storm damage resources: Have had a number of calls throughout the State this week

Hail damage to soybean at the V2 stage

Soybean recovering from hail damage.

from those who have experienced hail, flooding, and/or wind damage. The warmer temperatures were helpful for regenerating plant growth after hail; however, they’re not helpful for those who had heavy rains and flooding that didn’t recede. I shared this last week too but here’s a Hail Damage Assessment resource with many videos: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/hail-know/assess-my-damage. For flooding, corn plants prior to V6 can survive under water for 2-4 days if temperatures do not exceed 77°F. From V7-V10, plants can survive 7-10 days if temperatures do not exceed 86°F. For soybeans, yield losses are minimal if flooding lasts less than 48 hours. If flooded for 4-5 days, fewer nodes develop and plants will be shorter. If flooded for 6+ days, possible stand and yield loss. The longer it takes a field to dry out, the more yield loss that may occur. For soybeans at flowering, there’s potential for yield loss, especially on poorly drained soils.

As we deal with corn leaf loss due to natural sloughing off, early frost, and recent hail

and wind damage, it can make corn development staging tricky for post- pesticide applications. The reason I keep emphasizing development stages is because I’ve been called out to many ear formation concerns the past several years. No one intends for these things to happen! These are opportunities for all of us to learn. In all cases, mis-diagnosis of development stage occurred prior to the pesticide application (whether herbicide, insecticide and/or fungicide). The use of non-ionic surfactant (NIS) in the tank from V10-VT resulted in the ear formation issues in addition to increased surfactant load from multiple products in the tank mix. My hope in emphasizing corn development staging this year is to hopefully reduce the incidence of ear abnormalities that occur from post- pesticide applications. I put together the following video to hopefully help: https://twitter.com/jenreesources/status/1272370173853470720?s=20.

Gardening 101 resources: A team within Extension pulled together all the vegetable gardening resources to create a one-stop place for vegetable gardening. This resource, housed on the backyard farmer website, is a place for beginning gardeners and experienced ones. Check it out at https://go.unl.edu/veggies101!  

Sunscald/scorch on green beans: This past week I received a few pictures of green beans that had large brown ‘burnt looking’ areas. This is caused by sunscald. The sun and wind has been intense. Seek to evenly water and avoid watering the foliage.

Trees: Lots of tree questions past few weeks. If leaves are pre-maturely turning yellow and dropping, it’s most likely due to fungal disease. This is mostly happening since the 3” rain over Memorial Day. All the trees I’ve looked at are already starting to develop new leaves. Weed whackers cause more injury to trees that one realizes, so be very careful using them around trees, or put mulch around them to reduce weeds. Remove ‘mulch volcanoes’ around trees as the mulch against the trunk can cause rot. Mulch should not be piled against the trunk. Seek to make clean and proper pruning cuts for all the storm damage that has occurred to trees. For those who’ve experienced bark removal from lightning strikes or winter cracking, don’t paint anything over the wound and don’t fertilize or do anything to the tree. Allow the tree to seek to heal on its own. It’s amazing what trees can overcome! Winter and spring dessication injury may be causing evergreens (cedars, junipers, yews, and arborvitae) to suddenly turning brown. Kelly Feehan, Extension Educator shares, “During warmer than average temperatures in February and March, moisture was lost from green needles and could not be replaced from frozen or cold soils. This was followed by a dry spring; and then above average temperatures and extreme winds. These conditions increase the rate of transpiration and increased moisture loss from needles. If the moisture is not replaced quickly, tissues dessicate and eventually die. Evergreens growing in open exposed sites, near pavement or light colored houses, and those planted in the last three to five years are most susceptible. Other than using organic mulch and keeping soil moist, there is not much to do. Once an evergreen or a branch turns completely brown, it will not recover.” You can prune out dead branches/areas and see how the plants overall recover.

JenREES 5-31-20

Corn: I really enjoy this stage when corn is just tall enough to give the fields a green cast when looking at them from an angle. There continues to be discussion and questions about uneven corn emergence. Like many, I wasn’t anticipating seeing uneven emergence after having great soil conditions (right moisture and a warming trend of temps) for planting. Variations in soil temp, depth, and moisture can delay germination from a few days or longer. Residue blowing back over the row explained much difference in emergence this year. I wish I would’ve noted the days on my calendar, but there’s a couple warm days in late April during planting where it just seemed like the moisture rapidly left the soil surface. And, in conversations it seems as if others noticed that too. So I think moisture around seed was another factor as was fertilizer burn in some situations. Purdue University has some research which showed yield reductions of 6-9% for plants emerging 1.5 weeks later than a uniformly emerging stand. They also found yields of uneven stands to be similar to planting the stand 1.5 weeks later.

If you’re side-dressing nitrogen and interested in testing different rates, we have some on-farm research protocols available at:  https://go.unl.edu/tv63.

With warmer temperatures anticipated, corn will grow rapidly. This week we wrote an Corn growth stage-Reesarticle in CropWatch regarding proper growth staging of plants; this will be extra critical once we hit V6+. Remember to use the leaf collar method and this is how I explain it. A collar develops at the leaf base near the stalk after each leaf fully expands. Think about collars like the collar on a button-down shirt. The collar flares slightly at one’s neck, just as a true exposed leaf collar flares at the base of the leaf at the stem. Start counting leaves at the base of the plant with the smallest rounded-tip leaf with a collar as #1. From there count every leaf with a true collar. Leaves that are still wrapped in the whorl around the main stem without exposed leaf collars are not counted. I recommend taking a picture inside the end rows to document the growth stage of your field prior to the post-application of herbicide. Next week I will share my experiences with proper growth staging to avoid ear abnormalities. Also be aware of potential off-target movement with dicamba products and higher temperatures.

Soybean: In most cases, soybeans are looking really good. There have been situations this week with herbicide damage to beans that may have been cracking when irrigation or rainfall event occurred allowing some pre-emergent herbicide to enter the row. Pre- herbicides can also rain splash onto cotyledons and first leaves making them look bad, but usually doesn’t kill them unless the weather stays cold and wet. If the plants end up severely pinched below the cotyledons, they won’t survive. Otherwise, keep watching them as they may continue to grow (warm weather will allow them to grow and metabolize the chemical better). I think we’re also possibly seeing some environmental effects from the cold conditions that occurred after planting/emergence when we can’t always explain the appearance of injury on the plant by herbicide. The ‘halo’ effect of ILeVo is another thing that is being mistaken as herbicide and/or environmental injury but it doesn’t last past the cotyledon stage.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program for Crop Producers Webinar: There will be a webinar on June 4th at Noon (CST) to learn more. Registration is required at the following site: https://go.unl.edu/wj0e. In the meantime, Dr. Brad Lubben has put together an article with more information at: https://go.unl.edu/h3aq. All webinars are also archived at that same web link.

Irrigation Scheduling Equipment: It’s also a great time to get irrigation scheduling equipment installed! I decided to make a quick video instead of writing; it can be found at: https://youtu.be/4r5gn2pvvB4.

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Sensors prepped and ready for 2020 on-farm research projects!

Gardeners: For all of you gardening for the first time, congrats! Some tips: keep soil moisture even by ensuring plants have around 1” of water/week (Best to water at base of plant; if use sprinkler, do so in early morning). Mulching gardens with leaves, grass clippings, straw, newspapers aids in conserving moisture, reducing weeds, and maintaining stable soil temperature. If herbicides were added to grass clippings, make sure to read the label for if/when they can be applied to a garden. In general, many labels will say grass clippings are safe after 4 mowings.

Edible Landscaping

Edible landscaping

There’s been increased interest in growing vegetables, flowers, and herbs together. Learn more about this in our Edible Landscaping workshop on May 8th at the Clay County Fairgrounds in Clay Center! Please RSVP by May 5th and hope to see you there!!!

Proper Tree Pruning

Special thanks to Dr. Scott Dewald for the wonderful evening of information he provided at our tree care workshop last week!

Scott Dewald explaining what to look for when considering pruning a tree.

Scott Dewald explaining what to look for when considering pruning a tree.  Scott shared that one should never prune more than 1/3 the height of a tree in one season.  Pruning should also be done to obtain a main leader and overall structure.  It’s also best not to prune limbs more than 2″ in diameter.  If the limb needs to be pruned but it encompasses more than 1/3 of the limit of what should be removed in a season, one could “head” the limb by removing a portion of it one year and then complete the cut the following year.  This will slow the growth of that limb.  

Scott Dewald showing workshop attendees where the bark collar ridge occurs on this branch.

Pruning cuts should always be made at the “bark collar ridge” which produces a round cut and allows the tree to naturally heal.  Scott shows attendees where the bark collar ridge is on this branch. 

Pruning Fact Sheet ENH847 from University of Florida Extension written by Edward Gilman.

Pruning Fact Sheet ENH847 from University of Florida Extension written by Edward Gilman with good visuals of where proper pruning cuts should occur.

Workshop attendee demonstrating "heading" of a branch.

We learned that on large branches, it’s good to make a cut farther out to remove the weight first, and then go back and make the proper cut at the bark collar ridge.  Improper pruning can result in further damage to the tree.  Here we were trying to correct this tree for not having a main leader.  Typically one would leave the southern-most branch according to Scott, but in this case, the northern-most branch was stronger.  Scott said there was no need to stake the tree or try to get the northern-most branch to straighten out as it would naturally do this in time on its own.

This attendee is now making the proper cut at the bark collar ridge.

After a large part of the branch weight has been removed, this attendee is now making the proper cut at the bark collar ridge.  

Additional Problem-Planting too shallow.

We also walked from tree to tree in the park looking at additional problems.  I noticed how high the mulch was piled on some of the trees.  Mulch should never be placed against the base of the tree as it can cause rot.  But in this case, it was observed that the person who planted the tree did not dig a deep enough hole.  What appeared to be a pile of mulch was the actual root ball and soil mounded up above ground.  

Additional problem with this tree.

This situation also most likely was a result of improper planting.  In this case, the tree roots began wrapping around the base of the tree girdling it (like choking it).  

Weed wacking

This is the most common problem I see with tree calls.  A huge enemy to trees are weed whackers!  In this case, you can see extensive damage to the bark  and the base of this tree.  Depending on the damage and how well the tree can seal the wound will depend on if the tree will survive or not.  Often, as in the case of this tree, the tree will be weakened with few leaves appearing on branches.  It’s best to place mulch around trees in order to avoid having to use weed whackers on them-but again, don’t place the mulch up against the base of the tree!

This was a fun workshop for me with the right size of group and great hands-on demonstration where we also learned from pruning mistakes and how best to correct them.  Thanks again Scott!

Central Nebraska Extension Master Gardener Program

Interested in plants and gardening? Check out this information about the Master Gardening Program from Elizabeth Killinger, UNL Extension Educator!

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New blog posted at http://huskerhort.wordpress.com/ about The Nebraska Extension Master Gardener Program

NEMasterGardener-logo-m-sqDo you enjoy plants and gardening?  Looking to learn more and hone your skills but don’t know where to go?  The Master Gardener program will educate you on many aspects of horticulture, allow you to test your knowledge and skills, all while serving your local community.

The Nebraska Extension Master Gardener program is a horticulture related volunteer training program based in many counties throughout the state.  It has been part of University of Nebraska- Lincoln (UNL) Extension since 1976.  Master Gardener volunteers are trained by UNL Extension faculty and staff. They contribute time as volunteers working with their local Extension office to provide horticulture-related information to their community. Participants are required to complete 40 hours of training and 40 hours of volunteer service during the initial year of their involvement in the program. Master Gardener volunteers retain their…

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October Landscape Projects

In the landscape, October is the month to water, control weeds, and plant bulbs, trees and shrubs. It is also the month to wait until after a freeze to cut back perennial plants and wait for the soil to freeze before covering tender plants with winter mulch.  Kelly Feehan, UNL Extension Educator, provides the following information.

Water

Sometimes people ask if trees and shrubs should be watered at this time of year since their leaves will soon drop off; and how late in the season lawnsWatering bushes in the fall. should be watered.  As long as the soil is dry, go ahead and water. Plant roots continue to grow long after leaves drop off trees and shrubs and after grass stops growing. Roots, rhizomes and stolons can grow well into November and fall watering promotes this growth helping plants recover from summer stresses.  Plant energy can be used for root growth during fall since energy is no longer needed for leaves, flowering or seed production. Roots continue to grow until soil temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit with available moisture.

Water enough to moisten the soil to a depth of about eight to twelve inches for trees and shrubs and six inches for lawns. Keep in mind that a lack of oxygen due to a saturated soil is just as damaging to roots as a lack of water. Allow the soil to dry between watering.

Planting

Because roots continue to grow well into fall, September through October is a good time to plant deciduous trees and shrubs. For spring flowering Tulips along the side of our house.bulbs, wait until soil temperatures drop to 60 degrees Fahrenheit to plant.

A common question asked about fall planting is if a starter fertilizer needs to be used at planting time. Starter fertilizers are high in phosphorous, a nutrient important to root production.  The only way to know the answer to this question is to have a soil test taken. However, most landscape soils are high in phosphorous (P). Fall soils are often warm and dry which makes P more readily available. In most cases a starter fertilizer does not need to be used during fall planting.

More important is to plant at the correct depth. With bulbs, follow label directions for planting depth. It varies depending on bulb size. Some recommendations say to plant about one to two inches deeper than recommended.  The opposite is true for trees and shrubs. Before planting trees, locate where the trunk flares out at the trunk base then plant at a depth so the flare is visible above ground. Do not loosen the soil beneath the root ball or the tree may settle and end up planted too deep. In heavier clay soils plant so the trunk taper is one to two inches above the ground.

Weed Control

October is the best time to control perennial broadleaf weeds like dandelions, ground ivy and clover. There is no ideal time during fall to apply lawn weed and feed products together. The best time to fall fertilize lawns is in early September and again in late October or early November. The best time to apply herbicides for lawn weeds is about mid-October before a hard freeze.

Weed control can be more effective and less herbicide will be applied where it is not needed by avoiding the use of combined weed and feed products during fall. One can achieve better weed coverage and control of established broadleaf weeds if the weeds are spot treated, typically with a liquid formulation of herbicide.

Here’s wishing you a great October of accomplishing landscaping projects!

Fall Invaders

Great information from Elizabeth Killinger, UNL Extension, regarding keeping fall invaders out of our homes!

Husker Hort

Warm days and cool nights signal that fall is here.  The pumpkins are ready to be picked, the leaves will soon be in full color display and the wolf spiders and crickets will start migrating into the home.  Not exactly what you had in mind for a peaceful fall?  Find out how to start preparing now to keep these invaders from making themselves at home in your home.

When the temperatures start dipping, the pests start coming in.  Nobody really wants to spend the winter outdoors and insects are no different.  Some of the more common nuisance pests, or occasional invaders, include boxelder bugs, multicolored Asian Lady Beetles, millipedes, and crickets.  These pests don’t do any harm inside the home; they are just looking for a cozy place to spend the winter.

Proper identification of the insect will assure the proper control method.  Boxelder bugs are black and orange true…

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Gardening in Drought

As I set here writing, we went from wearing t-shirts yesterday to receiving freezing rain and sleet today!  The precipitation is much welcomed and it’s nice to see spring bulbs coming up and the grass turning green!  But we’re unfortunately not out of the woods yet regarding this drought, and may not be for some time.

This Thursday, April 11, Elizabeth Killinger, UNL Extension Educator in Hall County, will be talking to us about gardening during drought.  Come enjoy an evening of learning about drought-tolerant plants and ideas for your landscape!  The evening begins with a light supper at 5:30 p.m. and we plan to be finished around 7:00 p.m.  There will be no charge for this workshop, so please come and invite your friends and your youth who enjoy gardening as well!

Also, if you would like to bring some plants for exchange, you are welcome to do so and share with others!  Please call the Clay County Extension Office at (402) 762-3644 or Jenny at jrees2@unl.edu to let us know you’re coming so we can plan for the meal.  See you then!gardening in drought

Picking Poinsettias

Ever wonder about picking the perfect poinsettia? Check out these tips from Elizabeth Killinger at UNL! She even includes information on caring for your poinsettia and the debate on whether or not they are poisonous!

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Thanksgiving has passed and before too long it will be time to decorate for the holidays.  No holiday decorating would be complete without poinsettias in the house.  These plants are a part of most holiday traditions, but do you know what it takes to pick out the best one and makes it last long into the new year?

Poinsettias are as interesting as they are beautiful.  These plants originated in Mexico and are a member of the Euphorbiaceae family which secretes a milky sap when wounded.  The poinsettia bloom is actually a tiny yellow flower located in the center of all the color.  The brightly colored red, burgundy, or pink parts that look like ‘petals’ are actually called bracts.  Bracts are a type of modified leaf which change color based upon day length.

Picking out the perfect poinsettia doesn’t require too much research.  Start by purchasing fresh, healthy looking plants…

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