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Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Wildflower Tour Set For Wednesday, June 30

By Steve Cummings

Yalobusha County needs some rain and hopefully by the time you read this, we will have had a good soaking rain.  All of the rains seem to be to our north and east.

I learn something all the time with this job.  For the last couple of years, I have been trying to determine what these little dirt mounds are that have popped up in a few people’s lawns.  Turns out these mounds of dirt are made by moles.  These mounds of fresh dirt are from a den or living quarters made by the moles.

The Wildflower Tour at the Jamie L. Whitten Plant Materials Center will be June 30.  Wagon Tours will start around 8:30 a.m.  There will be presentations in the field and at the facility.  Wildflower seeds will be available for purchase and you can bring a plant and trade for another one at the plant swap.  Admission is $3 per person and this includes lunch.  Please notify our office at 675-2730 by June 21 if you plan to attend.

 The Northwest District 4-H Horse Show will be June 24-26 at Ranch One Arena in Batesville (it’s air conditioned).  If you plan to attend Roping and Goat Tying are on June 24 at 4 p.m.  Halter, Showmanship and Western classes are on June 25 starting at 9:00 a.m.  Gated, English and Speed Classes are on June 26 starting at 9:00 a.m.  Admission is free, so come support our young people

Horticulture Tips

The heat is on and the vegetable plants are responding as is their nature. Okra, eggplant, watermelons, sweet potatoes and other heat adapted plants are growing rapidly. Tomatoes, bell peppers, beans, sweet corn and other warm weather plants are starting to not set fruit due to pollen death and other related problems with high temperatures. The best thing gardeners can do is to make sure there is adequate water for the plants to transpire and cool themselves.

Many weeds are well adapted to hot conditions. Be sure to remove weeds every week since they compete with the desirable plants for water.

Questions about vine borers keep coming in. You need to preventively apply insecticides around the base of the squash and other vine plants to prevent the eggs and their hatchlings from surviving to bore into the stem.

Some forward looking gardeners are planning to grow fall potatoes and want to know if they can save their own spring crop potatoes for seed. Normally it is better to get certified seed potatoes  gown in regulated and inspected fields. The main worry is viral diseases. There are not many seed potatoes available in September, however, so saving your own may be an option. Carefully inspect your potatoes for any signs of discoloration and use any suspicious ones to eat. Store the good potatoes in a cool, dry place that has some air flow. Go through the stored potatoes once a month to remove any decaying ones. When night temperature began to fall below seventy degrees, you can use the stored potatoes to plant a fall crop.

As the temperatures rise and our lawns flourish with growth throughout the summer we will see more and more of our lawn insect pests showing up. St. Augustine grass lawns are particularly susceptible to chinch bug injury.  Centipede and zoysia can have severe infestations of two-lined spittle bugs. Zoysia and bermuda grass can be attacked by specific microscopic mites specific to each species.  

Lawn caterpillars such as sod webworms, cutworms, and army worms will feed on all of our turf species.  Mole crickets and white grubs of several types of beetles and billbugs can destroy the roots of lawn grasses. While fire ants, ticks and fleas, slugs and snails do little damage to the turf they certainly can be annoying and even a liability.

The key to successful lawn insect pest management is weekly scouting for their presence and proper use of insecticides before damaging thresholds are reached.  

This may require getting on your hands and knees to part the turf canopy to look closely for small immature larvae or nymphs and with root feeders like white grubs digging a small square of turf up.

To learn more about these insects, their injury symptoms, how to locate and identify them, and insecticides for their control refer to extension publication #2331 “ Control of Insect Pests in and Around the Home Lawn”.  

This publication can be downloaded from the extension website located at or obtained from your local extension office.

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