Spring has sprung in Natchez

Published 4:34 pm Saturday, March 29, 2008

Could anyone have asked for a better first week of spring? The blooming flowers everywhere are sights to see in Natchez which prove that spring is in full swing. Our office has been receiving higher than normal calls about many common problems and issues. The good thing about working outside in gardens or elsewhere in the landscape is if you are proactive and actively maintain your lawn and home landscape you can usually avoid most problems before they occur.

Q. What is the best way to prevent diseases and insects from hurting my peach and plum trees?

The best way to manage diseases or insects in any tree is through proper maintenance. Every year you should remove any dead, diseased or rotten limbs. In addition, pruning overgrown trees to increase circulation reduces disease risk. I would recommend this before spraying when applicable.

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There are four diseases that affect peach and plum trees; brown rot, scab, peach, leaf curl and bacterial spot. Bacterial spot is difficult to control but the other three are controllable through a fungicide application. Fungicides effective on peach and plum trees are Chlorothalonil and Immunox, (Captan is also great but difficult to find). If your trees are blooming wait until about 3/4 of the petals have fallen off before applying an application.

The are many insect that affect peaches and plums, some are the oriental fruit moth, catfacing insects and peach tree borer. It is easiest to control these with a year round control program starting in the fall. However, if you missed a fall application and you have problems with these insects or others you can use Sevin, peremerthin or malathion after petal fall to help control insects. For spray intervals and rates read all label information before using. Some of these products come in multiple forms and not all forms are for peach or plum so be sure to check the label for this as well. For a year round spray and maintenance schedule please visit our Web site at www.msucares.com for more information on this topic.

Q. What is the best thing to put on my yard to kill weeds?

This is a problem that causes havoc on people every year because improper management. Before putting out any chemicals on your yard you must first know what kind of yard you have. Some ingredients are great for some yards yet deadly on others. Let me first say the best way to control weeds is by having a good healthy grass species in your lawn. If you have weeds with flowers right now you can probably mow them and eliminate them for the year. The flowering stage is the last reproductive stage of the plant so once they begin putting up a flower mowing them once or twice will likely eliminate them for the season. Let me make this clear, most common over the counter lawn herbicides have an active ingredients, atrazine or 2-4D are common ones. Do not use 2-4D on St. Augustine lawns as it can injure or kill the lawn. Atrazine is safe on nearly all Mississippi lawns. If you have a bermudagrass lawn then products with 2-4D are more suitable.

David Carter is the director of the Adams County Extension Service. He can be reached at dcarter@ext.msstate.edu.