2018 Fruit Production

Wow… it’s almost February already! As we have progressed past the harshest part of winter (hopefully), it’s time to think more about fruit production and items necessary to promote good plant growth. Grapes, brambles, blueberries, apples, peaches, pears, etc., all need pruned in the next few weeks if you haven’t already finished them.  I’ve added some pictures below to help determine what the finished product might look like. Good pruning for sunlight, air penetration and spray coverage is a key to good fruit production.

    

Grapes before pruning                             Grapes after pruning

 

      

Blackberries before pruning                    Blackberries after pruning

 

  

Blueberry before pruning                             Blueberry after pruning

 

                     

Apple or Pear pruning cuts              Peach or Cherry pruning for open center

 

Tree fruit producers should also be thinking about dormant oil sprays and/or copper applications if fire blight was severe last year in your trees. Oils…only apply when temperatures are above 40°F, never during freezing weather (read the label). Timely applications of any insecticide or fungicide is necessary if you want to get the full benefit of using them, so plan now and have the correct products ready to use as needed.  Also remember, pesticide resistance management is something we all need to guard against. Read the labels of any pesticides being used and rotate to other products as listed on the labels.

Black Rot in Grapes– I have many homeowners who contact me each year, as fall approaches, saying their grapes are turning black and shriveling up just about the time they start to ripen. This is a problem that must be controlled in the spring as the new vines are growing. The period from immediate pre-bloom through 3 to 4 weeks after bloom is the most critical period for controlling black rot. New growth, no larger than seen in the picture below, is the time to start spraying.  Two fungicides, Mancozeb (ex. Bonide Mancozeb 37%) or Mycobutanil (ex. Immunox Fungicide) are products that control black rot. Be sure to read the label for proper application rate, preharvest interval and timing between sprays. If sprays are not made (missed), an improper rate applied or complete coverage is not obtained, you cannot expect to get satisfactory disease control of black rot.

A great resource for home growing fruit producers is OSU Bulletin 780, Controlling Diseases and Insects in the Home Fruit Plantings. Pick one up from your local OSU Extension Office.

2018 is well underway. Are you ready for a productive fruit growing season? Let’s get ready to prune!

 

 

Be Counted

Happy New Year!

I hope that 2017 was a year of success and I hope that 2018 will be even better. Of course, a year is what you make it. Although you cannot control what the year will bring, you can control how you react to what it gives you. Good or bad. I hope that one of your resolutions for 2018 will be to look on the bright side. See the glass half full. Be optimistic. If you chose to make 2018 a great year, it will be.

Yesterday I received a piece of mail titled to “Mr. Noble Osu Extension”. Yes, you read that correct. It was from the Arbor Day Foundation and it promised free gifts inside. Naturally, I wanted to at least see these “free gifts” and find out what they were hoping to get in return. Inside was a survey, return address labels, a calendar, and a list of enticing reasons why I should join the foundation and complete their survey.

One of these was the chance to win a “year’s supply of coffee”, which for me was more like twelve weeks’ worth of coffee, but hey, they got me. I completed the survey, hung up the calendar, and slipped the return labels into my desk. I am saving them for a gag where it would be appropriate to call myself “Mr. Noble Osu Extension.” My response will be counted to promote forest conservation. That alone would have been enough for me.

There are two surveys that I urge you to complete this January. One is the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The other is the 2017 Noble County OSU Extension ANR Program Survey. No, they don’t come with “free gifts”, but they should at least have your name and correct when you receive them. I can already see you rolling your eyes as you read this and thinking “Ugh, surveys!” So let me interject with a familiar story:

Luke 2:1-7: “1In those days Caesar Augustus sent out word that the name of every person in the Roman nation must be written in the books of the nation. 2This first writing took place while Quirinius was ruler of Syria. 3So all the people went to their own cities to have their names written in the books of the nation. 4Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in the country of Galilee to the town of Bethlehem. It was known as the city of David. He went there because he was from the family of David. 5Joseph went to have his and Mary’s names written in the books of the nation. Mary was his promised wife and soon to become a mother. 6While they were there in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to give birth to her baby. 7Her first son was born. She put cloth around Him and laid Him in a place where cattle are fed. There was no room for them in the place where people stay for the night.”

In the Christmas story we read that Jesus’s parents rode 65 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, while Mary was nine months pregnant, riding on a donkey, to be counted in a census, so that the government could assess their tax rate! Then when they arrived, Mary was in labor, and there was nowhere to stay except a stable. Can you imagine your first-born child being born in a barn, 65 miles from home, because the government ordered you to go? Does a paper or online census sound as bad now?

The 2017 Census of Agriculture is your chance to be counted. It is conducted once every five years. The information collected from the census is the only uniform, comprehensive, and impartial source of data that reaches every state and county in the U.S.A. It is used so that you will be represented appropriately by the United States Department of Agriculture in conversations with trade associations, researchers, policy makers, extension educators, agribusiness, and more. Every single voice matters. The census survey is lengthy, but keep in mind that every farmer in the U.S. has to complete the same survey. Some sections may not apply to you, but I guarantee that at least one will. You should have received a census form in the mail in December. You can chose to complete the paper forms or you can complete the census survey online at www.agcensus.usda.gov. If you did not receive a census packet, you can complete the survey online, or request one by calling (800)-727-9540. The deadline to respond is February 5, 2018.

Noble County OSU Extension looks forward to providing programming for you in 2018. Thank you to those who have completed the survey already. If you have not, please help us develop helpful program content by completing the 2017 ANR Program Survey online at: http://go.osu.edu/nobleanrsurvey17.

If you want to be represented in your community and nation, take these opportunities to be counted.

Have a wonderful New Year readers!

The Colors of October

This article was first published in the Oct. 9, 2017 edition of The Journal.

 

The most relaxing place I know is a ridge top in October that overlooks a deciduous forest. That place is where I can find inner peace. With a good cup of coffee in one hand and an excellent book in the other, that is my place of solitude. So today, I will pay homage to the leaf pigments that create the splendid colors of October.

Deciduous trees are those which drop their leaves in autumn. Before the leaves drop, a color change occurs. The leaves of some trees turn a crusty brown. It gives the illusion that the leaf has simply died and will drop, but it is really more complex than that.

Within the leaves are a complex combination of pigments. Usually the pigment that is most apparent in the spring and summer is chlorophyll. It is responsible for green leaves. Therefore, when leaves begin to change it is the sign that chlorophyll is breaking down (due to fewer hours of sunlight during the day) and we see a color change. Where do the other pigments come from?

The other pigments were there all along, we just couldn’t see them. If chlorophyll was the dominant pigment, we only saw green. When chlorophyll declines, the other pigments are expressed. Carotene and xanthophyll pigments exhibit yellow colors. Anthocyanin pigments are responsible for reds and purples. In acidic conditions red is widely expressed and in alkaline conditions blue is expressed.

The combinations of these pigments vary from species to species, tree to tree, and even leaf to leaf. They create the lovely variety of fall colors so many of us enjoy this time of year. In wet years, you may see more reds and purples. In dry years, you may see more yellows and oranges. This is because anthocyanin pigments are water soluble.

A great local place to observe the autumn scenery is the Eastern Agricultural Research Station in Belle Valley. On a clear day from the overlook at the top of the ridge, you can see for miles. I encourage you to come and see.

A great time to do that would be at Beef and Grazing School, which continues on Tuesday, October 10 and Tuesday, October 17. Both programs run from 5:30-8 p.m. If you would like to know more details about these events, please call 740-732-5681.

Ohio Apples Today and Yesterday

We recently had a get together at the Extension Office to learn more about apples. Most trees in our area are loaded with apples this year. Multiple environmental factors contribute to the massive crop this year.

Some sources say that John Chapman’s favorite apple variety was ‘Rambo’.

One was moisture level. Fruit development has been great, but fungal issues are abundant. Most fungal issues are only aesthetic for home apple growers. All you need to do is wash the apples and cut out problem spots before eating, canning, or freezing the apples. If you are interested in growing the “perfect apple”, it will take dedication, a strict spraying schedule, and perfect weather. If that isn’t appealing to you, pruning at the appropriate time and density will help you along.

In recent years, we have had very warm early springs followed by a cold snap. A late frost event can stunt apple production. If trees are near bloom, in bloom, or in early fruit development, freezing temperatures can cause the flowers or fruit to drop off the tree or rot. Fortunately, this year we did not have a harmful cold snap.

Pollinators must have been busy as well! Cross-pollination is essential for apples. Apple trees are primarily pollinated by insects. It aids in fruit development and overall crop success. This means that at least two different varieties of apples should be grown in an orchard so that cross-pollination can occur. There is no need to fear whether the apples will grow true to type or not. The apple that develops from the pollinated flower will bear the same characteristics as the other apples on the tree. However, if you grew the seeds from one apple and compared them to the seedlings from another apple from the same tree, the resulting trees may be very different!

Think of it this way: If you have a siblings from the same two parents, you probably share many of the same genetic characteristics. If you have a child with your partner and your sibling does the same, your children may share some characteristics, but will also have many additional differences due to the introduction of your partner’s genetics. This can help us understand the vastness of apple varieties. In the 1800s, there were over 17,000 documented varieties of apples in the United States. When grown from seed, each apple tree is genetically unique. Explore the USDA’s collection of historical pomological watercolor paintings to browse over 3,800 watercolor paintings of apples. These paintings were completed between 1886 and 1942.

So how do growers produce apples that are so consistent? That consistency is attributed to vegetative reproduction, usually through grafting. In these cases, cuttings (which are called scions) are taken from the desired apple tree and grafted onto root stocks that are compatible with the soil and climate of the orchard. This allows for the distribution of genetically consistent trees that are also adapted for specific regions of growth.

Apple history is deep and fascinating. As Ohioans, we all know of the legacy left by John Chapman or “Johnny Appleseed”, who carried apple seed and planted orchards across the mid-west. Before him, the pilgrims brought apples across the Atlantic Ocean to North America. Before the pilgrims, the Spanish conquistadors brought apples to South America. As of today, it is believed that the true origin of apples is Kazakhstan. It wasn’t until the Soviet Republic dissolved that scientists were able to map the lineage of apples that far. It is interesting that Kazakhstan is not too far from the believed location of the Garden of Eden.

As with many pieces of ancient history, the details are hazy. Even in home orchards, it can be incredibly difficult to trace the origin of well-aged apple trees. The best way to know what type of apples you have is to experiment with them. Taste them. Cook with them. Preserve them. Keep notes from year to year. Talk with your neighbors about their orchards. Look up periodicals from the time period that your property was first developed. All of these activities can lead you closer to knowing the history of your favorite apple.

To find out more about how to grow and enjoy apples in Ohio, you can contact OSU Extension by leaving a comment on this blog, visit ohioline.osu.edu and search for “apples”, or consult Ohio Apples, our state apple organization at ohioapples.com.

Poison Ivy Scouting

Poison Ivy Growing Among Woodsorrel

Whenever I take a walk around our house, I keep my eyes open for poison ivy. In the past couple weeks it seems to have awoke from its seasonal slumber and is ready to take off. The sooner you can control poison ivy the better. In order to control it well, it is important to understand this persistent plant.

The old saying “leaves of three, let it be” has been most helpful for me over the years to keep from getting confused between poison ivy and other look alikes. Poison ivy is a climbing woody vine that loses it’s leaves each winter. Leaves are egg shaped with three leaves per petiole that may be toothed, lobed, or entire. Poison ivy attaches to trees and rocks with aerial roots, which may have a hairy, fibrous appearance. Leaves may take on a reddish hue late in the season. It reproduces by creeping stems, roots, and seed transported by birds. Poison ivy can thrive in many areas that other plants do not.

All parts of the plant contain resins that cause allergic reactions for most of the U.S. population. These resins cause issues if burned, directly touched, or indirectly transferred from one surface to another. Resins are continually present on the leaves, stems, and roots, even in the winter.

Poison ivy is often confused with Virginia creeper, which is a creeping and trailing vine that secures itself to objects with specialized stems call tendrils. Virginia creeper has 5 leaflets, instead of three and is not poisonous. Poison oak is another common mix up. Poison oak has three leaflets, but the leaves look very similar to a classic oak leaf. The lobes have blunt tips and hairs on both the top and bottom of the leaf. Poison oak is not a creeping weed, but rather grows upright from the soil surface. For this plant the “leaves of three, let it be” statement still applies.

Poison ivy and poison oak are responsive to glyphosate, triclopyr, and 2, 4-D herbicides, which are commonly used in poison ivy killers. Always follow the label when using a herbicide and wear adequate protective gear while handling!

     Virginia Creeper

Poison Oak (Photo Credit-School of Forest Resources & Conservation – University of Florida)

IPM- Crop Rotations

In Extension, we often talk about integrated pest management, a way to control a pest from various angles. These angles are cultural, mechanical, and biological options for managing pests.  A pest is simply something unwanted in a particular area.  Pests could be plants, insects, or even mammals at times.  The thought process is that there is no one perfect solution to a problem.  Easy come easy go, some would say.  I guess in this case it would be; easy go, easy come back!

A cultural way to break the cycle of many pests is to plan a crop rotation that involves crops from different plant families. Families in the sense of phylogenies or grouping according to similarities.  For instance, the following plants: tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and even potatoes are all in the Solanaceae family.  As you can tell, many of our garden crop favorites share a lot with one another.

One of the biggest mistakes in crop rotations is to rotate between unrelated plants/crops. This is important because pests can share similar crops and over winter in that specific crop residue.  Take for instance the cucumber beetle; this pest will over winter on cucurbit residue and be ready to re-infect that crop, whether it is a cucumber, pumpkin or zucchini.  This bug will also spread bacterial wilt that can cause a loss of an entire crop with a systemic infection.

The cucumber beetle will not damage tomatoes so planting a Solanaceae crop in an area that a Cucurbitaceae was growing would break that pest cycle. Pests can also be fungal.  A fungus called Alternaria tomatophila causes early blight in tomatoes.  The fungus can over winter in certain cultivars of potato and eggplant, both of which are in the Solanaceae family.

A good crop rotation starts with careful planning and can be successful by utilizing crops with complementary planting and harvest dates. A good rotation for May plantings would be to start with sweet corn (Poaceae).  Sweet corn can be harvested around August and into September.  A crop rotation will prevent certain cutworms and corn borers from being problematic in a specific area.  A good follow-up crop in that area would be garlic (Alliaceae) planted in September/October and harvested in July.  Once July comes, planting a legume (Fabaceae) will help remediate the soil and get the soil ready for the following season, hairy vetch for instance.

There are many rotations that work well in a crop rotation system, utilizing soybeans for a food plot can also be done. Just remember to rotate crops that are unrelated and replenish the soil at times.  This can be accomplished through the use of legumes or fertilizers.  A rotation only needs to be more than one crop; two is good, but three is great!  Get your garden plans in place and dig right in.

Be Cautious if you plan to Roundup your lawn.

There are currently two products on the market that you will need to pay close attention to if you plan to make a herbicide treatment to your lawn.  The confusion is that Roundup is a product that has been on the market since the early 1970’s and contains glyphosate as the active ingredient.  Roundup is a non-selective herbicide that kills any green plant to which it is applied.  With a lawn application this statement would be accurate, but we do have some weeds in cereal grain fields that are resistant to glyphosate.  There many generic products which contain glyphosate and you need to check the label for the amount of active ingredient when comparing products and prices.

 

Roundup for Lawns is a totally different product which does not contain glyphosate.  To make it even more confusing there is a northern and a southern version of this product for different grass options.  The northern version of Roundup for Lawns contains MCPA, quinclorac, dicamba and sulfentrazone.  These active ingredients can be found in many lawn herbicides in different combinations for various weed control options.  MCPA, 2,4-D and dicamba are products used to control broad leaf weeds such as dandelion, ground ivy or mallow.  Quinclorac is often added to provide post-emergent control of crabgrass.  Sulfentrazone is a product that provides control of sedges such as yellow nut sedge as well as some broadleaf weeds.  All of the active ingredients previously mentioned will not kill your lawn grasses.

 

Selecting the wrong Roundup will result in very different outcomes.  Roundup will leave you with a brown dead lawn, where Roundup for Lawns will control selective weeds and not harm your grass.  However both of these products can be harmful to many of your landscape plants if applied to them.  So it is critical to know what active ingredients are in the product, not the product name itself.  As always READ THE LABEL!  The label is the law and must be followed when using any herbicide due to the active ingredient toxicity levels, application rates, personnel protective equipment, and re-entry intervals.

Edible Wild Plants-Risk vs. Reward

This time of year the questions start to trickle in about edible wild plants. Many are interested in identifying and collecting edibles, but this is a hobby that should be pursued with extreme caution. I have been asked multiple times to host an edible wild plant workshop, but the risk of accidental consumption of a harmful plant following an event like that is too great. Therefore, I have yet to get a workshop going and my most responsible overall advice is simply, don’t do it. Unless you are stranded in the wilderness and need to survive on wild edibles, the risk vs. reward odds are not worth testing.

Collecting wild edibles is an endeavor that could start out with good intentions and end in the hospital, or worse. Before you eat any plant or fungus you find in the wild, check, check, and check again to verify it is what you think. Many edibles seem perfectly safe just by looking at them, but don’t forget that there are other factors like pathogens or parasites that could make you ill that are unable to be seen, so eat at your own risk.  If you determine it is “safe” to eat, only consume a tiny bit at a time, just in case something goes haywire. Also, keep an unaltered sample of what you have consumed, so that medical personnel could implement the appropriate treatment in an emergency. Also, remember that some wild edibles, like ginseng, are illegal to collect from state lands in OH. Permits can be acquired in some areas during the designated season for harvest. Don’t forget that in some wildlife areas removal of any vegetation is illegal.

Controlled cultivation is a safer bet. Many people successfully propagate their own mushrooms, herbs, and more. There is quite a bit of information about how to accomplish this task through OSU Extension and other sources. In fact, on Saturday, April 8 there will be a Growing Shiitake Mushrooms Workshop at the Noble County Soil and Water Conservation District Office. Anyone is welcome to attend this free event which will run from 10 a.m. to Noon featuring our local service forester-Adam Komar of ODNR as the guest speaker. Please call 740-732-4318 to RSVP.

Ohio State has a resource handbook about mushrooms that many have found helpful. Find it here: Mushroom Handbook

Looking for a list of edibles in the Mid-West Region? Click here: Edibles List

Save The Date!! “Tick Prevention” at Hocking Valley Community Hospital 4/3/17 at 6pm

With spring upcoming and people starting to head back outdoors it is time to think about protection from ticks.  Ticks are a major vector of many diseases affecting humans, companion animals and livestock and the prevalence of these diseases has been rapidly increasing over the last decade.  On Monday, April 3rd at 6pm at Hocking Valley Community Hospital I will discuss tick diseases, identification and prevention methods.  The class is free and open to the public.

How to identify which tick is important,  different ticks carry different diseases and all ticks carry more than one disease.

Source: Tickencounter.org

We will discuss lifecycles.

Source: CDC

And go over how to protect yourself, your family, your pets and your livestock.   Ticks are tough to repel, many of the most common products are ineffective.

We will discuss what works and what does not work.

Space is limited to about 20-25 and classes at HVCH generally fill up.  The class is free so bring your friends and your questions.

Contact information:

Class instructor is Tim McDermott, DVM from OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Office. Call (740) 380-8336 or email ljohnston@hvch.org to RSVP.

The Urban Farm – Winter Update

I know I told you all that The Urban Farm was done for the season, but actually there is something important going on right now that will be critical to our success in 2017.  The cover crop seed I planted in November has been slowly growing and helping the overall soil health.  It was very fortunate that we lucked out with lots of rain and moderate temps for the first half of winter.  I go to the farm and take pics every few weeks or so.  Here is the timeline in pictures:

shortly after germination, picture taken on November 29th

picture taken December 7th

some great growth so far. Picture taken January 3rd

Picture taken January 19th.

As soon as the daylight hours increase and it gets warmer, the rye will take off like a rocket, easily getting over 3 – 4 feet tall.