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Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Yalobusha County Homemakers Score Big At Contest

By Steve Cummings

This week is the State 4-H Horse Show in Jackson. 4-Hers qualify to show their horses at the state show through their district 4-H horse show. This year Yalobusha County qualified the most entries for the state show with 99 entries. Rankin County was second with 97 entries.  When you look at the size and population of Yalobusha County compared to Rankin County, this is a big accomplishment.  

Yalobusha County 4-Hers will have both Junior and Senior Horse Bowl and Horse Judging teams in the state show.  Breanna Scroggins will compete in public speaking and there will be several county entries in the horse photography and horse art contests. Results will be in next weeks’ column.

 Lately, I have reported on mostly 4-H success, but I have almost forgotten another group of successful folks, the Yalobusha County Homemakers.  

Four homemakers exhibited twelve exhibits in the Cultural Arts Contest. Jo Davis received four first places and two second places. Jane Franklin had two first places and Betty Baker Thomas has one second place.  Pat Brooks’ exhibits included two first places and a second place. The Yalobusha County MHV Secretary Record Book also won first place at district.  Congratulations ladies!

Last weekend we received much needed rainfall.  This rainfall helped our crops, pastures, and lawns. Hopefully, we will get periodic rainfall as needed.

Horticulture Tips:

Wilting (Plant, Man, and Beast)

Recent temperatures in the triple digits can cause wilting of plants, man, and beast. Animals can get to a cool spot in the shade.  We can go indoors, cool off, and get a big glass of water. Not so with our poor plants. They are stuck right where they are. As gardeners, we are well aware of the many effects of extreme heat on our plants.

We all know that high temperatures can delete soil moisture resulting in wilting of the plant. Limp or drooping leaves are a sign of plant stress. Most of the time, drooping leaves indicate lack of water.  Usually we can water well and the plant will recover. But, if allowed to get too dry, the leaves will fall off.  Before you give the plant up for dead, water and wait a couple of weeks to see if it will sprout new growth. If so, cut away the dead foliage and stems and feed with a half-strength solution of 20-20-20.

Wilting or drooping of plant foliage can also be an indicator of other stressful situations.

Anyone that has ever grown squash, gourds, and pumpkins know that during the hottest part of a sunny day the large leaves of these plants will droop — even sometimes when the soil is relatively moist.  If the plant is otherwise healthy and the soil is moist, the drooping leaves of some plants in this situation can be a natural response to decrease the plant surface area exposed to the sun. This lessens the rate of transpiration or loss of water vapor from these huge leaf surfaces, thereby conserving available moisture.

In other words, it’s like you or your dog getting in the shade to  decrease the amount of water loss by sweating (you) and panting (your dog).  Plants are pretty smart!

There is another reason a plant may wilt. If you have checked the soil around the wilted plant and it is plenty wet, the drooping foliage is probably an indicator of the dreaded rot root. This happens when the plant has been over-watered to the point that the roots have begun to rot due to the invasion of any number of disease pathogens. This situation can be made worse by less observant gardeners who continue to add water to this wilted plant thinking the drooping leaves indicates a lack of water.

Waterlogged soils literally suffocate roots resulting in root death which in turn prevents top growth from getting the water and nutrients it needs. The plant is starving to death for water in a water logged soil because it doesn’t have adequate roots for uptake.

Keeping container plants in a saucer of water may result in this type of wilting due to root suffocation and death. I have had the drain hole in container plants get plugged and after mindlessly watering the plant to the point of death finally figured out what was wrong. You should be more observant than that!

If you catch the situation early, you may be able to save the plant. If it is in a pot, allow the soil to drain off excess water and move to a place out of the sun. If a plant has been over watered out in the garden, it probably is in the wrong place and water pools there after a rain, rather than you irrigating excessively. The best thing to save the plant is to dig it up, if possible, and move it to a well-drained area of the garden. Replace with a plant that likes wet soil like cannas, elephant ears, amsonia, sweet flag, sweet shrub, Virginia sweetspire, or osmanthus.

There are other reasons that plants wilt, for example, due to voles eating all the roots off or it could be due to other factors like disease or insect damage. In most cases wilting is due to the three reasons above with the most likely being lack of water.  

So, don’t forget about your poor plants stuck out in the high temperatures and hot sun probably dying of thirst, as you and your dog are lolling about in the shade!

This has been a mild year for tomato spotted wilt problems.  A few cases are being discovered across the state. Look for small, curled up leaves in the top of the plant and purple streaks along the petioles and stems. It is best to remove plants with the disease to help prevent the spread to other plants in the garden.    

It is hard to think about fall gardening now, but it is time to start plants for fall tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos. Pumpkins should be planted before July 10.  

You can still plant watermelons, cantaloupes, and dessert melons, but the insects will be more difficult to keep away.

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