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Kyle’s New And Reviews In Agriculture

By Kyle Jeffreys

What a beautiful Easter weekend we had!  I just wish the ground had been a little drier for everyone.  My family all went to Louisiana to visit my wife’s family, so I was home alone all weekend mainly working on worn out vehicles that I own.  I was able to get out Saturday and Sunday morning with a friend and look for some turkeys, that’s all we did.  Apparently, someone told the turkeys to be quiet this weekend.  

With the warm sunny weather, I know all the farmers are hoping that it will last a  few days so they can get back into the fields.  I know that several local farmers wanted to plant corn, but I am afraid that deadline has past. If it didn’t rain again for a week there still would be a lot of fields to wet to work, especially out highway 330 since Grenada Lake has reclaimed some fields.  Everyone around our area has been fascinated with the idea of Grenada Lake flowing over the emergency spillway, as of Monday morning it still hasn’t happened.  

Last week I got a call from a grower in the county that had some concerns about some watermelon seedlings he was growing in a greenhouse.  I went out to the farm, took some pictures, and sent them into the plant pathologist at Mississippi State.  The disease was identified as Gummy Stem Blight. 

 This is a bad disease on watermelons and most likely came on the seeds that were planted.  I will offer some advice to everyone that is buying transplants for the garden.  First always carefully inspect the plants while buying and if there are yellow spots or any abnormality on the plants don’t plant them.  

Another good tip is buying small size plants, meaning it is harder to plant a transplant that is big and overgrown.  From personal experience, a smaller transplant will out grow a large transplant. 

 Pear Slug Sawfly

Pear slugs are shaped like caterpillars and are slimy-looking like slugs, but they are really the larvae of a special type of wasp, known as a sawfly.  Pear slugs are often observed feeding on the leaves of plums, peaches, pears, or cherries, and occasionally on apples and crab apples.  Fully mature larvae are only about ½ inch long and green to dark-green, but it is not uncommon to have multiple larvae feeding on individual leaves.  

Usually, they feed on the upper surface of the leaves, leaving behind a network of lacy, brown leaf veins and the epidermis on the underside of the leaf.  Although infestations are often light and damage is not usually serious, heavy infestations can cause large areas of dead, brown leaves affecting entire branches or areas of trees, and this level of defoliation can be detrimental.  

Often it is too late to treat by the time damage is noticed, because the larvae have matured and pupated.  In cases where damaging numbers of pear slugs are present, they can be easily controlled by spraying with an insecticide containing the active ingredient spinosad (GreenLight, Monterey, Bonide, and Ferti-lome all sell this product).

Malathion is an even better choice for peaches and plums if you hope to harvest some of the fruit because malathion will also control plum curculio, with the little weevil that produces those legless white grubs inside the fruit.  Gardeners who regularly spray their peaches or plums for plum curculio do not normally have to spray specifically for pear slugs.

See Extension Publication 2858, Disease and Insect Control for Homegrown Peaches and Plums, for more information on pest control in homegrown peaches and plums:


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