Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Native Grass Tour At Whitten Center On Tuesday

By Steve Cummings

Fall arrived last Tuesday and hopefully it will bring some dry weather with it.  I do not believe I have ever seen such a long rainy spell, especially in September. We certainly could use some dry weather as much of this crop is ready to be harvested.

On Tuesday, Sept. 29, there will be a Native Warm Season Grasses Tour at the Jamie L. Whitten Plant Materials Center. Tours will begin at 3:00 pm and will conclude at dusk. Topics included in the tour are as follows:

• Eastern gamagrass, switchgrass, Indian grass:  identification, characteristics, forage potential, nutrient requirements, site preparation and planting, hay harvesting, burning, weed control.

• Silvopasture – native grasses in a pine/grazing mix.

• Biofuels production and potential.

Please call the NRCS office at (662) 675-8000, Ext. 3, by Monday, Sept. 28, if you plan to attend. If you have any questions about native grasses for haying or grazing, this tour might have the answers for you.

Horticulture Tips:

Lawn Mushrooms

With the extended cloudy, rainy weather we have received recently mushrooms have been popping up everywhere in water soaked lawns. Lawn mushrooms are the fleshy, spore producing fruiting bodies of a group of fungi which feed off decaying organic matter.  This organic matter may be from rotting tree stumps or roots left in the soil, animal waste, old mulch or decomposing grass clippings.  Since mushroom production is enhanced by damp, shady, highly organic environments your best control is to target things you can do to help eliminate these conditions.  Collecting or raking grass clippings, dethatching the lawn and replacing old mulch will help reduce the food source.  Correcting drainage problems and soil aerification will improve moisture issues and selective pruning and thinning of trees will allow more light into shady areas.  There are chemical fungicides that will help remove existing mushrooms but this is generally only a temporary fix as mushrooms will again appear as long as there is an abundant decaying organic food supply and favorable environmental conditions.  Although unsightly most of these mushrooms are not harmful to the turf so if they only occur during these extremely wet rainy periods I would not get too concerned about them unless you have pets or small children they may be in contact with them as many are toxic to mammals if consumed.

Dealing with Too Much Rain

Excessive rainfall in our state has created some problems for home gardens and landscapes. Below are some tips for dealing with too much of a good thing!

• Cut off or cut back on automatic irrigation systems during periods of heavy rain

• Keep gutters, downspouts, ditches, drainage grates and culverts clear of debris so water can move

• Channel flooded waters away from garden beds and plants in the landscape by digging temporary small trenches so standing water will run away from the roots of plants that are not tolerant of “wet feet.”

• Make sure all drainage holes in containers are clear and water can move through the pots

• Empty pot saucers regularly or remove during times of excessive rain to prevent containerized plant roots “standing in water.”

• Consider installing a rain barrel to catch and recycle this natural resource. Our grandparents did this regularly and there are many home “rain barrel” kits and instructions on the internet. One such source is the University of Florida Extension Service at this web address: http://sarasota.extension.ufl.edu/Hort/Pubs/Rainbarrel.shtml

• Consider installing a rain garden in those areas of the yard that tend to hold water during heavy rainfall.

• Resource the information pertaining to bog gardens, rain gardens, water quality and other sustainable landscape practices on the Mississippi State University Extension Service Internet website: http://msucares.com/lawn/landscape/sustainable/index.html.

The following fungicide tips are provided by Clarissa Balbalian, Diagnostician/Lab Manager, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, MSU.

Protect plants during rainy weather by applying systemic fungicides that will not wash off.  Bayer Advanced Disease Control (tebuconazole) and Spectracide Immunox (myclobutanil) provide control of black spot of roses and most other foliar diseases of woody ornamentals, bedding plants and ground covers.  Downy mildew of roses and root diseases of bedding plants and woody ornamentals can be prevented with Aliette (Aluminum tris).  Always follow label directions when applying fungicides

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