Spring brings color, problems

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring is a wonderful time of the year! We can stay outdoors and enjoy nature and spend time doing things that we avoid during the winter cold and the summer heat.

Right now the azaleas are exploding all around town and many of you are enjoying watching your own gardens show various arrays of color. However once spring does begin we also face some problems that we have neglected. Here are two of the many questions we have received.

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

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A: 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.

There are four main 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. Good fungicides that are effective on peach and plum trees are Chlorothalonil and Immunox, (Captan is also good 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 insects that affect peaches and plums, some are the oriental fruit moth, catfacing insects, and peach tree borer. It is easy 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. For a year-round spray and maintenance schedule please visit our Web site at www.msucares.com.

Q: Why is my lawn and vegetables dying after I spray recommended chemicals on them?

A: The effect of not thoroughly rinsing out sprayers before using different chemicals is starting to accumulate. I have only had this call once but I will address it to prevent future problems. Last year I observed dead grass from not cleaning out glyphosate, dead tomato plants from not cleaning out insecticide, dead flowers from not cleaning out herbicide, and more. Be sure to always rinse out your sprayer at least three times with clean water after each use. Be sure this rinsing includes the hose and nozzles. Many times we remember to rinse out the tank, but forget the hose and nozzles are full of the mixture we have just sprayed. If you spray a lot it’s a good idea to use a different sprayer for herbicides and pesticides. This will reduce this risk; it is also a good reason to buy plants with resistant varieties when possible. If you sprayed chemicals last fall and are not sure what the last thing you sprayed was, you should certainly take caution before filling up and spraying anything.

David Carter is the director of the Adams County Extensions Service. He can be reached at 601-445-8201.