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Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Extension Service Gets Back To Business For 2009

By Steve Cummings

The Christmas lights were beautiful this year in Yalobusha County, but now it is time to ring in the New Year.  We encourage you to utilize our office during 2009 because that’s what we are here for.  

We’ll be opened back up for business Monday, Jan. 5.  We hope you have a Happy New Year and a blessed 2009, from the Yalobusha County Extension staff: April, Christine, Pamela, and Steve.

Horticulture Tips:

In winter, garden features such as bark come into their own.  If showy bark is missing in your landscape choose from the following suggestions and add some winter interest to your yard. Some are easily found at your local nursery, others may take an online search to locate a source.

There are several crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) selections that have just downright showy bark.  Look for Natchez, Tuskegee, Miami, Apalachee and Biloxi.  Try to find the Japanese crapemyrtle (Lager-stroemia fauriei) cultivars Townhouse and Fantasy for spectacular trunk coloration and exfoliating bark.   

River birches (Betula nigra) are known for their light, peeling bark.  Heritage is an impressive selection of this tree that is suited to Mississippi. Other plants with exceptional bark are Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia), paperbark maple (Acer griseum), ninebark (Physocarpus spp.), oakleaf hydrangea (Hy-drangea quercifolia), Cornelain-cherry dogwood (Cornus mas), Japanese cornel dogwood (Cornus officinalis) and beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis).  

For north Mississippi (Zone 7) we can choose from several other dogwood species that offer bright red or yellow stemmed selections, including tatarian dogwood (Cornus alba), bloodtwig dogwood (Cornus sanguine), and redosier dogwood (Cornus sericea). A tree that should be used more in the landscape is our Native American hornbeam or musclewood.   Older branches and the trunk of this small tree develop a slate gray, smooth, irregularly fluted appearance that resembles a muscular, flexed human bicep or thigh. This tree grows muscles in your garden right alongside you as you work in your landscape!

All these can be planted during the dormant season.

Do you really need a pesticide?

Dwayne Wells, MSU-ES Turf Specialist, recently visited a golf course with a few problems on the greens and when asked about how these problems were being managed, the response was with a list of pesticides. Unfortunately, some of these pesticides were not needed or were for problems that these particular pesticides would not help.  Therefore, he offered the following suggestions to help you determine if and when a pesticide is what your lawn needs.

· Is the damage actually being caused by a pest? Could it be the weather or a cultural practice, such as over- or underwatering, fertilizer, or herbicide damage, etc.)?   

·  If it is a pest, what kind is it? Insect? Disease? Animal? Rodent?   

· Are there non-chemical ways to control it? Is the damage severe enough to warrant chemical control?   

· Is pesticide use cost-effective? Or would the chemical treatment cost more than the damage  is worth?  

· Can the pest be controlled by a chemical at this stage of its life cycle, or would application at a different time be more effective?

Remember, just because you see insects does not mean that insects are a problem. Proper identification of the problem is essential before you select any type of control. There are many excellent resources available to help you identify pests or pest caused problems, including trained professionals at nurseries and garden centers, your local Extension office, and reference books dealing with lawn pests and diseases.  Healthy turf is generally less susceptible to attack by pests, and good cultural practices can reduce pest outbreaks.

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