As fall begins, cool, wet weather will bring out more mushrooms

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 27, 2009

This is the first week of fall and it looks like we certainly have a shift in seasons with the hot, dry, humid summer behind us. This summer some areas in the county went over 9 weeks without rain. This does not appear to be the problem this fall. We had an extremely uneventful first half of hurricane season with no significant activity in the Miss-Lou, but there is some time left so don’t get comfortable just yet.

When we begin having these extended periods of cool, wet conditions we create an environment suitable for multiple living things not seen other times during the year. Here are a few calls we will likely receive about specific things growing in reference to the outside conditions.

Q: Will we have more mushrooms this year?

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In the next few weeks, as the rain slows down, be on the lookout for the white mushrooms known as “green-spored Lepiota.” These are a specific form of fungi that are in no way parasitic on any of the local turfgrass species. If you begin to see them in your yard there is really no reason to be concerned as they are not linked to other diseases or lawn problems. They appear in areas of high organic build-up like excessive thatch, buried sticks or limbs, or other organic debris. In fact, they are beneficial in the breakdown of these organic materials and recycling of beneficial nutrients.

There are some forms of wild mushrooms that are edible, but there are also some that are extremely toxic, and when consumed even in small amounts can be extremely dangerous to all mammals. The problem is they all look very similar, therefore I would strongly suggest you leave them alone.

Q. How much longer can my garden produce this late in the year?

If your summer garden is still producing, then you have done an excellent job managing your plants. These environmental conditions are good for extended production but also make it tough at times.

If you have pumpkins or melons planted, now is the time to watch out for fungal developments. Rain is great for both vine growth and fungus development. While the plant is growing rapidly most of its energy is directed to fruit development not leaf maintenance so you may need to watch and be ready to apply a protective fungicide should fungus growth begin.

If you have tomatoes, peppers or beans still in the garden be on the lookout for water wilt. This is most common in tomatoes planted in poorly drained soils after heavy rain showers like we have seen over the last week. When you have water wilted plants they start wilting from the top down over 8 -12 hours. If you have plants in an area that dries out well they may recover within a day or two. However if they are still suffering after a couple of days then the roots are probably beyond recuperation.

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