Crazy Weather!! Spray Those Fruit Trees!

Amazing, 60° (F) on January 15th in the Missouri Ozarks. The flower buds are swelling due to the warm weather. It is definitely time to start spraying your fruit trees.

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Neem Oil is the perfect choice to spray fruit trees. Neem oil is both a fungicide and an insecticide. 100% Neem Oil tends to solidify in its’ container. Place the container in a bucket with hot water to liquefy the oil to use in a sprayer. Two tablespoons per gallon is the usual rate to get the job done.

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Neem oil is made from the seeds of the Neem Tree (Azadirachta indica). The oil mixed with water and dish soap is sprayed at temperatures below 80° (F). Neem oil has fungicidal and bacteriological properties to either prevent or control certain types of bacteria and fungus.

Neem oil is effective to control fire blight which is a major issue on apple and pear trees.

Neem oil offers good control against powdery mildew, black spot, downy mildew, scab, anthracnose,  rust, leaf spot, botrytis, tip blight and alternaria. These are a sample of fungal diseases which plague fruit and ornamental trees.

As an insecticide, Neem Oil is detrimental to aphids, mealybugs, scale, different types of beetles, true bugs and caterpillars by disrupting their growth patterns. Most of the above insects will not reach adulthood and therefore no offspring. The oil itself smothers some of the insects by cutting off their air supply and eliminating insect eggs.

While standing upwind, spray the fruit trees from ground level to the branch tips.

Make sure the entire tree is thoroughly covered to insure control and effectiveness.

In a week to 10 days the trees will be sprayed again, using wettable sulfur.

Continue the process in another 7 to 10 days using elemental copper.

Spraying between intervals with seaweed emulsion and compost tea will strengthen the trees by building up the trees immune systems and handling stress.

The benefit is clear by enjoying healthy fruitful trees!

Papa

 

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Pest Control – Nature’s Way – the Braconid Wasp

You may have seen this phenomenon at one time or another. Little white cocoons on the back of a tomato hornworm. Those cocoons are from the larvae of the Braconid wasp.

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New adult Braconid wasps will emerge from those little cocoons!

Braconid wasp emerge

These amazing ladies and gents are only 1/8th inch long and rely on the caterpillars of many butterflies and moths to perpetuate the species. A fertile female wasp will use her ovipositor (egg laying lance) to lay eggs in the caterpillar of tomato hornworms and other destructive caterpillars.

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The life cycle continues over and over again causing destruction of the caterpillars and rewarding us with juicy tomatoes and undamaged plants!!!!

Papa

Early blight on tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant. Can it be subdued?

Alternaria solani is the fungus causing Early Blight. Spring brings the rain, wind, and insects traveling from plant to plant plus a hidden visitor of Alternaria solani spores. Overhead irrigation, tools, infected seed and working in the garden when wet also support spore dispersal and growth. Rain splashing from the soil, carry these spores to your plants.

Spores enter the plant through leaf surfaces or wounded plant material. The fungus spores can linger, producing many “seasons” of infection and take advantage of the hot, wet weather of late summer.

Early Blight is favored by warm temperatures and extended periods of leaf wetness from frequent rain, fog, or dew. Warm, humid  temperatures of 75-86 degrees increase the likelihood of infection.

Once the spores have “attacked”, infections have occurred and become the most important source of new spore production and rapid spread of the blight. Lesions generally appear quickly under warm, moist conditions on older foliage and are usually visible within 5-7 days after infection.

Early blight can develop quickly mid- to late season and is more severe when plants are stressed by poor nutrition, drought, other diseases, or pests.

What are the symptoms?

  • Dark spots will start showing on the older leaves of your tomatoes, potatoes, Bell pepper, hot pepper and eggplant.
  • These spots will look like concentric rings.
  • Tissue surrounding these brown spots will turn yellow (a yellow halo)
  • Spots enlarge becoming leathery, merge and leaves start to hang withered or fall off.
  • Younger leaves will start showing black spots as well as the stems.
  • As the leaves fall, the fruit has no shading and succumb to sunscald. This will also cause reduced fruiting as there is less leafing for photosynthesis.
  • Infected fruit have dark, sunken, leathery spots near the stem end. Both green and ripe fruit are affected.

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  • Tomatoes will rot from the stem to the inside of the fruit.
  • Tubers of the potato vine develop dark specks resulting in a corky potato.

What can be done to stop this blight?

  • Apply mulch (black plastic, straw, newspaper, biodegradable weed barrier)  to protect the plant from spore splashing from the soil onto lower leaves. Remember early blight is a soil borne disease.
  • Provide plenty of space between the plants. Good air flow will help keep the plants dry.
  • Pick off affected/infected leaves and remove them from the garden, bagged; dispose with household garbage. Burning is equally effective.
  • Wash your hands and/or gloves when you finish in the blighted area.
  • Change your clothes to reduce further spore dispersal.
  • Wash/disinfect any tools used in the blighted area.
  •  Use a biofungicide spray: Bacillus subtilis,  (Serenade® MAX) and Bacillus pumilis (Sonata®) with compost tea. Read label for application.
  •  Copper products, hydrogen peroxide, and potassium bicarbonate can be used against early blight . Read the label for application.
  • Garlic, neem oil and seaweed extract have also been shown to be effective in reducing the severity of early blight disease on tomatoes. Spray and apply as label directs.
  • Do not work in the garden when it is wet after rain, morning dew or fog.
  • Use drip irrigation as this will keep the plants dry.
  • Rotate your tomatoes, potatoes, Bell and hot peppers and eggplant every three to four years with small grains (wheat, barley, rye, oats, sorghum), corn and legumes (peanuts, peas, cowpeas, green beans, long beans, runner beans, fava beans, soybeans, Southern peas, sugar snap peas). If you are limited on space consider container and vertical gardening giving your soil time to regain its health and decrease the spore population.
  • Amend your soil with compost during late fall as it supports microorganisms that contribute to biological control in the soil.
  • Early blight survives from season to season in or on the leaves, stalk and fruit from diseased plants.  Remove diseased plants or destroy them immediately after harvest.(Bag or burn)
  • Nightshade and horsenettle  serve as alternative hosts for the disease. Remove them from your garden area.
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  • Tomato stakes and cages should be disinfected (hydrogen peroxide or diluted bleach solution) and rinsed prior to storage. All dried plant material must be removed, bagged or burned.
  • Be alert to weather changes.
  • Become a plant detective. Get out to the garden daily and observe for any changes. You won’t be sorry as you are on the watch for disease. Removing leaves at the first sign of infection will slow the spread of Early Blight.
  • Do not compost any diseased plant material.
  • Do not save seed from diseased fruit as Early Blight survives within them.

Are there Early Blight “resistant” tomato varieties? More like partially resistant.

  • Mountain Pride
  • Mountain Supreme
  • Mountain Gold
  • Mountain Fresh
  • Mountain Belle
  • Mountain Fresh Plus
  • Aunt Jenny’s Purple
  • Big Rainbow
  • Black Plum
  • Juliet
  • Legend
  • Matt’s Wild Cherry
  • Old Brooks
  • Tigerella (AKA Mr. Stripey)
  • Tommy Toes

What is a good strategy for potatoes?

  • Choose resistant varieties such as long season as they are usually more resistant – Certified seed potatoes.
  • Choose a short season variety, plant early and harvest before Early Blight invades.
  • Separate your potatoes from your tomatoes to decrease cross infection.
  • Give wider spacing to access better drying and air flow.
  • Be aware of the moisture in the soil. Do not over water.

Yes, Early Blight can be subdued if you are vigilant.

Papa