Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

By Steve Cummings

Merry Christmas from the Yalobusha County Extension Staff – Steve Cummings, Pamela Redwine, Christine Fielder, April Kilpatrick – as well as our call-in secretaries, Pat Rodrigue and Nelle Lowe, and our night program coordinator, Casey Baker.  We wish each and every one a very safe and happy holidays.

The Yalobusha County Extension Staff has certainly enjoyed all of the holiday activities going on.  Last Friday, we attended the Northeast District Extension Service Christmas Party.  A great time was had by all, until our District boss, Dr. Alan Blaine, announced his retirement effective April 15th.  Many of you know Alan as he served for years as the MSU-ES Soybean Specialist.  We, as a staff, are saddened to see Alan retire as he has done so much for the Northeast District and Yalobusha County Extension Service.

Our office will be closed for the holidays from December 21st until January 3rd. If you need to get in touch with us, try us at home.

If you failed to order Mississippi State Cheese and would like cheese, check with the Water Valley Lions Club.  Mr. Ernie Aune reminded me that cheese sales was one of their fundraisers.  I’ve had their cheese and I can tell you it’s very good.

Horticulture Tips:

Eighty degrees in December is not good for plants.  It reverses the acclimation to cold temperatures of evergreen and deciduous perennials and inhibits the growth of cool season annuals.  The recent pattern of cool fronts stalling in Mississippi and becoming warm fronts with accompanying cloudy, drizzly, foggy conditions enhances the conditions for fungal and bacterial growth on plants.  Be vigilant for black spot on roses, downy mildew on crucifers in the vegetable garden, and various foliar diseases on anything currently growing.  Many plants respond to the warm temperatures with a flush of new growth.  This new growth will be particularly vulnerable to damage when the next cold front comes through.  Plants normally undamaged by frosts and light freezes may need to be protected.  A “so what” attitude about the new growth is not wise since the plant is expending stored energy to develop the new growth and if it is destroyed before the reserves are replenished there will be a less vigorous growth next spring.

How to Take Care of a Poinsettia:

Once you have selected the best poinsettia you can find, what do you need to do to make sure it looks great from now until into the New Year and beyond?

Actually, home care is minimal.  If your poinsettia came with that decorative florist foil wrap around the pot, do remove that. Or at least cut the bottom out and put your plant in a pot saucer. This is to help you to know when you have over watered. With the saucer you can pour off the excess water that runs through the pot. If you keep the foil intact, the water will pool in the bottom and could cause root rot.

The ideal location in your home is not always the most decorative.  But do try to keep your plant out of drafts, with a high light exposure (such as in front of a southern or western facing window) and in a cool place (60-65 degrees Fahrenheit).  This might be an enclosed porch, sunroom or other room that tends to run cooler than the average 70 degree home.  Keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy.  Obviously, you may want that pretty poinsettia as part of the mantel decoration right above the fireplace or you might want it to be the centerpiece on your kitchen island.  Just know that you can certainly put the plant wherever you like, but it may not last as long under these less than ideal conditions.

In the hustle and bustle of the holidays no one is probably going to be looking really close at the poinsettias anyway!  Fortunately, the newer types of poinsettias on the market tolerate a good bit of abuse.  They can take low light, drafty rooms, and normally fluctuating temperatures for several weeks and still remain a showpiece, as long as they are kept moist and the foliage is not bruised by being constantly moved.

Once you’ve taken the decorations down, extend your plant’s colorful display by moving it to more ideal conditions as described above.  And, don’t be surprised if you haven’t thrown your poinsettia out when it’s time to start spring-cleaning!

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