Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Digital TV And Safe Driving Among Upcoming Programs

By Steve Cummings

As much as we have needed and wished for rain in the past, one is hesitant to wish for the rain to stop. However, many of our farmers are falling behind with planting, and what crops that have been planted are struggling to survive and may be faced with diseases brought on by the excess rain. 

Home gardeners are facing the same problems. Dr. David Nagel, MSU-ES Vegetable Specialist, comments below on the excess rain and gardening. Hopefully, in August, we will not be wishing for rains.

There are a couple of upcoming programs at the Yalobusha County Multipurpose Building that might be of interest to you:  The Digital TV training and the AARP Safe Driving class.

The Digital TV training, provided by WTVA in Tupelo, will be held on Thursday, May 14 at 10:00 a.m. The AARP Safe Driving class starts at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18.  There will also be judged and speed Tri-Lakes Horse Show on May 15.  I encourage you to take advantage of these programs if they will benefit you.

Here is Dr. Nagel’s comment on the excess rain:

An inch of rain each week is a good thing. Two inches of rain a week can be a good thing. More than two inches of rain in seven days is normally a bad thing. Soils become saturated and the pores fill with water. Roots need oxygen from air to live and perform their function of absorbing nutrients and water. Plants can wilt from lack of water in the leaves while standing in a puddle because the roots have drowned.

Now would be a good time to put on boots, pick up an umbrella and walk around the garden to see where water is standing on the soil surface. If it persists for more than 24 hours after the rain stops, you need to take measures to get the water moved from that spot. It may mean as little as clearing a clogged drain to as much as building a dry well or French drain to direct the water away from the garden area.

The other aspect of rainy weather we don’t often think about is the lower quality and quantity of light that our garden plant receives. Plants use light to make sugar which fuels all of the things plants do. Clouds block light, so the plants don’t get enough sunlight to make enough sugar to grow, bloom, set fruit, or ripen fruit.

This time of year strawberries don’t grow as large or taste as sweet or strongly flavored, tomatoes etiolate (grow leggy or tall), squash grow even bigger, thinner  leaves that are even more susceptible to downy mildew, and everything puts on fewer flowers. The only cure is bright sunshine. All gardeners can do is apply disease fighting measures when the first signs appear.

Some sweet corn has blown down in the high winds of thunderstorms. The corn can be gently pushed back upright, but care has to be taken so the roots are not torn in the process. This repositioning has to take place while the soil is still saturated. 

Spring Flowering Shrubs – Time to prune and fertilize

After blooms have passed on spring flowering shrubs cut back all overgrown growth.  Azaleas, wiegela, flowering quince, forsythia, and spireas are spring bloomers. Remove entire limbs to simply reduce the size of the plant without destroying its natural habit. A general recommendation, if you haven’t done a soil test is to apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer, such as 5-10-10, at the rate of ? cup per established plant. For the acid-loving plants like azaleas there are fertilizers specially formulated that help to maintain the acidity of the soil.

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