By Brent Gray
It is good that we are still getting cool fronts to keep humidity levels down. Vegetable plants cool themselves by having water evaporate through their stomates. It is much more efficient for the water to move into dry air. The drier air is also less conducive to disease proliferation.
One grower was bragging that he had over 90% emergence of his Atlantic Giant pumpkin seeds. This very large fruited pumpkin is notorious for poor germination and emergence. Have your ground ready to plant pumpkins by Independence Day.
I was asked recently if sweet corn planted now would grow and produce. Corn is a warm season crop but can have problems with pollen death when conditions are both hot and dry. The larger problem with late planted sweet corn is the almost certainty of corn ear worms eating the kernels before you do. By the time corn planted in June is silking, , the corn ear worm will have gone through many generations and large numbers of moths will be searching for a good place to lay their eggs. Commercial field corn will be well past the green stage, soybeans are less attractive than corn, cotton will be maturing so your little patch of sweet corn may attract moths from miles around. An aggressive spray program, an early maturing variety and a willingness to sacrifice ear tips may yield some short roasting ears for Labor Day.
Eggplant thrives in 90 degree temperatures. The fruit can go from just right to past its prime quickly in hot temperatures, however. Be sure to harvest before the skin loses its shine or the seeds get tough. It is better to trade a little size for a lot of quality.
Trees and Shrubs
Remove any dead wood or weak branches on crape myrtles so new growth will be vigorous and show good form. Continue to remove suckers at the base of tree form crape myrtles. Cut back fast growing shrubs, such as eleagnus, ligustrum, and photinia, as needed. Prune spring-flowering shrubs only if there is an errant branch or dead branches. Next spring’s flower buds are forming and any drastic pruning now or later this summer will reduce next spring’s blooms.
Avoid fertilizing or spraying during extreme heat or drought. When plants are under stress, the leaves may be damaged. Water well the day before spraying, and apply pesticides only when temperatures do not exceed 90 degrees.
Feed plants with an acid-forming fertilizer, such as 11-5-5; the same product can also be used on camellias, gardenias and blueberries. Apply as directed on the label. If the leaves are yellow with green veins, apply iron chelate, or treat the surrounding soil with aluminum sulfate.
Roses, annuals, and perennials need a boost after the first round of flowering. Apply a cup of granular fertilizer (5-10-10) per 5 x 5 foot square area or water every two weeks with a soluble fertilizer until new vigorous growth is apparent.