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Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Monday Holiday Creates Problem For Ag Columnist

By Steve Cummings

Sometimes deadlines and holidays can cause problems with news columns, and this is one of those times.  Here it is the Friday afternoon before Labor Day and the column needs to submitted in a little while.  I’d like to wait until Monday to write this article so that I can comment on the hurricane, the use of the building for evacuees, and the effects on our crops.  I could even give an update on the status of the State Horse Show.  Not so, at this time.  I’ll have to wait until the next article.  

All I can tell you now is that some of our producers are busy combining soybeans and cutting hay before the storms come and that the Multipurpose Building will serve as a distribution center if need be.  Hopefully, as you are reading this we have had no storm damage and I am writing about state horse show placings and high crop yields.  Even modern technology can’t get around deadlines and holidays.

Horticulture Tips:

Lawn Care After Storm Related Rainfall

Much of the coastal United States from Florida to Texas has experienced more rainfall in the past few days than all previous days of summer.  Thankfully, Mississippi has not had the excessive flooding that Florida received but our lawns have become extremely soft and overgrown.  We need to be cautious about their management under these conditions.  Wet soil is much more prone to compaction so care should be taken not to put equipment such as heavy riding lawnmowers on fine textured soils until there has been adequate time for drainage and drying.   The grass will be much taller than normal so to prevent scalping or to comply with the one-third rule of not removing more than one-third of the total leaf area at a single mowing it may be necessary to raise the mowing height slightly for the first mowing then mow again at the normal setting only a couple days later.  It is generally best to leave clippings on the lawn to replenish nutrients but if the clippings are too excessive leaving piles of clippings covering the turf canopy then this would be a time recommended for collecting and composting them.  

Pest problems of insects, weeds and particularly fungal diseases tend to proliferate following these wet, humid conditions so careful scouting should be done to notice and manage any outbreaks.

Pruning Basics for Late Summer

There always seems to be some questions about pruning this time of year. Yep, you can prune in late summer. The type of pruning you do is the key. Some examples follow.  It is just fine to remove any damaged, diseased, or wayward branch (those that poke us in the eye as we walk up the sidewalk) any time of year. Continue to remove any suckers that appear around the base of your tree-form crape myrtles as well as any suckers that appear below the graft of roses or fruit trees. Rub off any tender shoots that appear along the trunks or main branches of large tree-form crape myrtles and fruit trees.

Late Summer and Early Fall Planning

Late summer and early fall is a great time to plan and do landscape projects. The weather is not so hot and humid. The kids are back in school and you have time to think!

Most landscaping is actually a matter of “remodeling” an existing situation.  Only brand-new homes offer the challenge of bare ground to begin. Remodeling is a more leisurely process than planning a garden from scratch.  There’s no urgent need to cover the brown earth.  It’s better to come to the right decisions slowly than to rush in and make mistakes that will aggravate you for years to come.

While remodeling plans should always be a part of a total landscape project, the work can be done one area at a time. Doing the work by area is a great way to get the support of family members who could question your sanity if you propose a major overhaul all at once.  Springing one little project at a time on your potential helpers, works so much better. Gratification is faster and then you spring the next “little project.” Before they know it, they have worked themselves silly and you can bash in the glow of your accomplishments and motivational skills!

An example of a way to really change the look of your landscape is to redo the entry—or the “public face” of your landscape.  Is it inviting? Is it easily accessible? Is it easy to maintain? Just widening the walkway, adding some lighting, or even painting your front door can make a huge difference.  Don’t forget your entryway is a major focal point of your landscape, so you can get a tad lively!  It is ok to express your individuality and uniqueness. It is YOUR landscape. Adding ornate pots, vivid colored or shaped containers, sculpture, unique plants (in shape, texture or color) are all ways to draw attention to let folks know this is where you enter my home!

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