Monday, July 26, 2010

Is your Tree Wilting?

If your tree is wilting, it may not be due to lack of soil moisture, it may be due to trunk damage.

This ornamental pear is suffering. The leaves are wilting and the whole tree looks sad. This is a response to a lack of water.

The leaves are scorched. This is another indication of lack of adequate moisture.

Is this due to a lack of soil moisture or is something preventing the movement of water from the soil up to the leaves?

A close inspection of the lower trunk shows damage from a lawn mower and/or string weeder. The trunk also was injured by sun scald which killed bark.As can be seen by the grooves in the wood, borers also damaged this tree. These problems have almost eliminated the tree's ability to transport water to the leaves resulting in wilt and leaf scorch.

What can you do to save this tree? Nothing! If it does survive, it will be weak and sick for the rest of its life. This tree needs to be removed. If the decision is made to replace this tree with another, I hope the new tree gets better care than this tree was given.

For more information on how to prevent this type of damage, check out the information on scorch and sun scald, avoid the use of string weeders around trees, and don't damage your trees with your lawn mower.

sweet corn mutations

Have you ever seen sweet corn where the ear has developed a small tassel on its tip, or seen the tassel of a corn plant sprouting tiny ears?

Sweet corn is supposed to develop ears on the side of the stalk and tassels at the very top of the plant. At least that is how this is supposed to work. But, mutations do occur.

These photos shows a sweet corn plant that has developed ears in the tassel. This is called 'tassel seed'and is due to a mutation on chromosome 1.

There is nothing you can do about these mutations. Hopefully you will still be able to harvest edible ears.

Harvest your cabbages before they split

Cabbage should be "tight as a drum head" when harvested. Don't wait until they split open.

You can test each cabbage to see if it is ready to be harvested by pressing down on the center of the head. There should be no give. If there is, leave it to grow some more.

If you need to leave cabbage in the ground after it is ready to harvest, twist the head 180 degrees. This hopefully will break enough of the vascular system to slow the expansion of the head and reduce the chances of the head splitting open. Your other option is to cut the head off from its main root and store it in the refrigerator.

Waiting even a day after the head is "as tight as a drum", might result in the heads of your cabbage splitting open.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Protect Grape Vines from Winter Damage

Grape vines damaged by the cold temperatures of this last fall and winter are rapidly replacing damaged tissue and growing so fast the vines may not acclimate properly for winter conditions. This new tissue will most likely be damaged again this winter unless the plant is encourage to slow down.

If these vines are not encouraged to slow their growth they will still be succulent going into winter and thus be susceptible to additional winter damage.

To encourage grape vines to acclimate properly for winter:

1. Reduce the amount and frequency of water starting in early August.
2. Do not apply any fertilizer for the rest of the season.
3. Do not cultivate around the vines until after the first hard freeze.
4. Do not spray any weeds until after the first hard freeze.
5. Do not prune for the rest of this season.
6. Do control powdery mildew.
7. Do water after the vines have gone dormant.

By following these guidelines fast growing grape vines will slow down and thus be less susceptible to winter damage.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The fruit of the mulberry tree is edible!

Most people find the mulberry tree, the female of the species, to be a real pain dropping fruit all over everything. The fruit is eaten by birds and ends up as purple splotches on the side of your home, on your white car, coating your fence and anything else the birds fly over.

Believe it or not, the mulberry fruit does have a use. In fact it has many uses. This fruit can be used like blackberries and turned into pies, jam, jelly, turnovers, and many other tasteful treats. When the juice is boiled down it makes a great cough syrup and ice cream topping. Ihe fruit is also full of healthful antioxidants. It should be collected for use and not despised as a nuisance.

One of my neighbors has a tarp stretched over the sidewalk beneath their mulberry tree. Are they harvesting the fruit to eat or just to prevent the mess of fruit on the sidewalk? I haven't asked them but since a bucket is arranged in such a manner that the fruit can be collected, I hope they are using the fruit as it should be used.

Is your sweet cherry tree infected by a virus?

When sweet cherry leaves have a small leaf growing out of a vein, the tree has cherry rasp leaf. This unusual outgrowth is called an enation, literally meaning ‘small leaf’.

When your cherry tree exhibits these outgrowths, enjoy it while you can because it won’t be around very long. It will die! There is no cure once the tree is infected.

The virus is spread by dagger nematodes, Xiphinema americanum, by budding and grafting, and by root grafts. As with other nematode-vectored virus diseases, the symptoms appear on one or a couple trees in the orchard and spread outward in a circular pattern. This spread is due to the movement of infected nematodes and the natural grafting of roots between infected trees and non-infected trees. There is evidence of pollen from a virus-infected tree spreading the virus as well.

If you plant another sweet cherry tree in the same area within two years, you can expect your new tree to be infected due to the presence of virus-infected Xiphinema americanum in the soil. If you plant an apple tree during that time, it is likely to suffer from “flat apple” syndrome, if you plant a peach tree it may be infected but not show symptoms serving as a “Typhoid Mary” resulting in the infection of other trees. Field bindweed, dandelion, plantain and lambsquarter also serve as hosts for this virus and thus should be eradicated if anywhere near your backyard or commercial orchard.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Is your Sweet Corn suffering from drought?

If the leaves of your sweet corn plants are rolling, this is a clear indication of a lack of water. When this happens your plants are stressed. When corn plants lack water during silking and tassel development you run the risk of having ears missing many of the kernels you like to munch on.

When you water, ensure the water penetrates the soil to a depth of six inches. You can determine the depth to which the water penetrates with a shovel or probe. Don’t allow the soil to get so dry that the leaves roll. At the same time, don’t water every day.

Remember to fertilize your sweet corn when it is about knee high and again when tassels start to show. Apply one-third pound of nitrogen per 100 foot row. One and one-half pounds of ammonium sulfate contains almost that amount of nitrogen. If you use another fertilizer, divide .33 by the percentage of nitrogen in the fertilizer. The answer will be the pounds of the fertilizer you will need to apply.

Tassels form at the top of the corn plant and produce pollen (i.e ‘sperm’). Silk forms on the tip of the ears. When a pollen grain falls on the silk it develops a tube that extends the length of the silk until it reaches the “egg”. If you want kernels on your corn, do NOT remove either the tassels or the silk and be sure to fertilize.

Losing bark is natural for some trees

The loss of patches and strips of bark is natural for many trees and shrubs. The American Sycamore and London Plane trees exfoliate when the development of new bark pushes thin plates of older bark off the tree. This results in patches of green, brown and tan on the upper branches. Much less shedding occurs on the lower trunk of these Planes.

While the bark is a real mess for someone who owns or lives near a Plane tree, this happens only once each year. The bark can be collected, pulverized and used for mulch around your vegetables and flowers to help keep the soil cool and the roots happy. Running a lawn mower over the bark and capturing it in the lawnmower’s bag produces a nice mulching material. I would suggest you use an old lawn mower blade to do this so you don’t dull the blade you use to mow your lawn.

The American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), aka buttonwood, buttonball-tree, American planetree and Western planetree, can be distinguished from the London planetree by the deep sinus at the base of the leaf blade as shown in the photo. The sinus of the London planetree [Platanus x hispanica (synonyms P. x hybrida and P. x acerifolia)] is much less distinct. Having said that, however, there is quite a bit of variation in leaf shapes even within a species.

The brown fruit balls also differ between the two species. The American sycamore’s one inch diameter seed balls are borne single or rarely in clusters hanging on slender stems from three to six inches long. The London planetree’s one-inch seed balls are typically in clusters of 2 to 4.

This photo shows clumps of dead branches. These clumps are called ‘Witch’s Brooms” and are the result of the fungal disease known as Sycamore Anthracnose (Apiognomonia veneta). This disease is most prevalent when we have cool, damp springs. Sprays can be applied to help control this disease but the best prevention is to never plant an American Sycamore.

“The American sycamore is much more susceptible to anthracnose than the London and Oriental planes. Due to this high susceptibility, planting of the American sycamore should be avoided. The Oriental plane (P. orientalis), a shorter, less graceful tree, is highly resistant to anthracnose but rarely grown in the United States. The London plane is a cross between the Oriental plane and the highly susceptible American sycamore (P. occidentalis). The London planetree cultivars, Bloodgood, Columbia and Liberty are resistant to anthracnose and are good choices for planting in Colorado” (

Note: Antracnose is a generic name given to any fungal disease that causes “characteristic limited, sunken, necrotic lesions… producing nonsexual spores in an acervulus.” Shurtleff, M.C. & Averre, C.W. III. 1998. Glossary of Plant-Pathological Terms, APS Press.

The name of the causal agent is Apiognomonia veneta, hence the reason for calling the disease by its common name “Sycamore Anthracnose.”

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hops and Beer.

If you want to learn more about Hops and Brewing plan on spending time in Paonia at the Hops and Brewing workshops.


July 17, 2010
9a – 12:30p
Paradise Theater, Grand Ave., Paonia


9:00 Dr. Ron Godin: Hops Production Overview
9:30 John McHugh P.E.: Irrigation systems
10:00 Dr. Ed Page: Economics of Hop Production
10:30 Rich Andrews: Solar Hop Drying
10:45 Break
11:00 Ali Hamm, M.S.: Hop Alpha Acids and Quality
Hop Variety Trial Yield Results
11:45 Dr. Frank Stonaker
Hop Insect Pests
Bio-control (two spot spider mite) and other organic options
Scouting for Possible Problems - Aphids
12:30 Lunch at Louis Pizza, Revolution Brewing Brew House Tour and Tasting Room Visit
2:00-6:00 Rising Sun Farm
Hands on Hop Workshop
Brewing Discussions
A Little Tasting
6:30 BBQ and Music
A Little More Tasting

July 18, 2010
Rising Sun Farm
16540 Grange Rd, Paonia

9:00 Breakfast
10:00 Mike King’s Brew Class, a Beer will be made with all local ingredients
Field Work and Q&A in the Hop Yards
12:30 Lunch
A Little Tasting
1:00-5:00 Back to Brewing
Brewing Lectures and Q&A

Sign up for this two day workshop at:
Cost: $100

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Is your lawn a healthy green or a bleached white?

Turfgrass with a bleached look may be infected with Ascochyta leaf blight or may simply be responding to severe drought. Quite often the latter leads to the former.

If your lawn looks like the photo it has been suffering from inadequate water for quite some time. When I walked on this lawn the soil was hard as a rock.

Turf sprinklers need to be spaced so that water from one sprinkler reaches the neighboring sprinklers. This turf area did not appear to have adequate sprinkler coverage. I could locate only one sprinkler covering this bleached area.

If you have dry spots in your lawn, turn on your sprinklers to determine the problems. If your sprinklers are too low, not spaced properly, broken, etc., these problems must be corrected to solve the problem. If you have missing sprinklers you will need to add heads. Check out the publication at for information on how to identify and correct irrigation system problems.

You could hire a "professional" but even if you do, I would suggest you know what the problem is before he/she make a house call to correct your sprinkler problems. I'm sure the irrigation system at the site shown in the photo was installed by a "professional."

Until you have the irrigation system corrected, you will need to drag a hose and water the dry spots.
Another problem at this site was high water pressure. Sprinkler efficiency is affected by water pressure. If the pressure is too high you will have misting as shown in the video. A pressure regulator should have been installed by the "professional". The owner needs to install a pressure regulator on the valve to ensure proper system pressure. You can also see several of the heads are so low the turf blocks the spray of water coming from the sprinklers. The "professional" failed to check the water pressure supplying this system. The owner of this property needs to have a pressure regulator(s) installed to correct this problem. Remember, not all "professionals" are qualified to repair your irrigation system.