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From The Ground Up

Large Patch Can Develop During Fall

By Pamela Redwine

The Forestry Meeting Tuesday night had a good turnout.  Dereck Redwine presented the program and gave the landowners tips on trapping beavers to help reduce the damage to timber and other property.

At noon on Thursday, Sept. 16 at the Extension Office there will be aQuickbites session on Fire Ants. Bring your lunch and join us to learn why it is important to treat fire ant mounds in the fall rather than waiting until spring.


Horticulture Tips

Labor Day has past and we will soon begin to see and feel those subtle changes from summer to fall.  Daylight hours are becoming less and there is that hint of crispness in the air when taking the morning walk.  There are some subtle changes going on with our lawns as well and when temperatures begin to cool the potential for large patch (Rhizoctonia solani) disease will increase. While most all turf species can be affected by large patch it is the most prevalent disease of St. Augustine and centipede lawns during the spring and fall.

 Large patch, also commonly referred to as brown patch, is characterized by brownish to gray water-soaked irregular circular areas a few inches to several feet in diameter in the lawn.  The disease usually attacks the base of leaf sheaths where they are joined to stolons causing the leaves to eventually die. Another diagnostic symptom often found is when pulling by hand on individual leaf blades they easily slip from the stolon and have a brown, wet, slimy appearance at the base. If the disease becomes severe and is not controlled it will eventually attack the stolons and roots killing large areas of the lawn.

Excessive nitrogen fertilization, leaf wetness, and heavy thatch build up tend to make the turf more susceptible to large patch so avoiding these will be wise.  If your lawn has had a history of large patch attack be on the alert and be prepared to treat with an appropriate fungicide early before the fungus becomes devastating to the lawn. Control is particularly important in the fall as the turf will not have sufficient recovery time before it goes dormant. Weakened thin areas in the lawn now and throughout the winter will only lead to more problems in the spring.

Fall Gardening

Cool nights are great for vegetable plants, as long as it remains warm enough that the plants aren’t damaged.  The cooler the night is, the more sugar the plant photosynthesizes during the day is used. This creates a larger plant, larger fruit, and more flower buds. There is also more sugar to be sent to the fruits to make them sweeter or more flavorful. We don’t have to worry about being too cold until the temperatures start falling below fifty degrees. Cucumbers can have chill injury when the temperatures are below fifty and none of the cucurbit crops grow very well when temperatures are in the forties. Sweet potatoes can have chill injury when temperatures are below fifty. Most other popular vegetables will do well as long as frost doesn’t form.

Garden centers are stocked for fall gardening now. All of the brassica plants like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and kohlrabi should be planted soon. You can still buy tomato plants, but be aware that although tomato plants may tolerate a very mild frost, tomato flowers don’t set well if night temperatures fall below fifty five degrees. There is still time to make tomatoes, but hope that the cool spell before Labor Day was just temporary. Carrying container grown tomato into the garage at night for a few days may be a good plan to combat a brief cold front.

Soil Samples

 Now is a good time to sample your soil to have it tested for nutrient content. Most labs are not busy now and results should come back quickly. Be sure to sample the area where you  may be planting trees or shrubs since it is much easier to amend the planting site during the planting process than it is after the woody plant is in place. Fruit trees may not need fertilizer the first year, but changing the soil pH level is much easier when the holes are being dug.

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