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Archive for the ‘Horticulture’ Category

Question of the Week – Black Tupelo aka Black gum

Posted by romeethredge on November 25, 2014

Last week’s question was about identifying seeds left by the hundreds around grain bins by birds. We were trying to identify them. They are Black Tupelo aka Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica) pits or seeds.

Good honey is made from the blooms, as well as the birds feed on the fruit and carry it and spread the pits everywhere.

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This week’s question is about this nut.

What is it from?


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Posted in Agriculture, Horticulture, Wildlife | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Pecans – 2014 Crop

Posted by romeethredge on November 25, 2014

Dr. Lenny Wells, UGA Scientist, gives us a harvest update.

“Early estimates placed the 2014 Georgia Pecan crop at 80-90 million lbs. But,  as pecan producers have been gathering their crop, it has been obvious that the lbs making it into the wagons are not what they appeared to be on the tree. Current estimates have fallen to 70 million lbs or less. The rain we’re experiencing this week provides an opportunity to slow down a bit and take a look at some data to help explain the issues we see with this year’s crop. Nut size is obviously off and I won’t go as deeply into that issue since I covered nut size in my last post but nut size does play an obvious role in the reduced weight being accumulated. All the reasons I mentioned before— cool temps during nut sizing, drought, and lack of sunlight—played a part in the smaller nut size; however, pollination is also an important factor to consider whenever pecan quality is affected. In addition to small nut size, we see a significant percentage of “pops” or nuts that failed to develop kernel in this crop, which is almost a sure sign of poor pollination.

So, lets look at pollination conditions during spring of 2014. The first thing to consider here is that the crop was abnormally late. This dates back to the late bud-break we saw in the spring, a result of cool spring temperatures. Darrell Spark’s model shows that March temperatures have a strong influence on the date of budbreak, while April temperatures influence the rate of shoot growth and flower development.

From 1912-2003, maximum temperatures in Tifton during March and April average 69 and 77 degrees F respectively. For 2014, these temperatures were 65.7 and 74.7. This may not seem like much, but 3 degrees can make a big difference to a plant. By comparison, maximum March and April temperatures for 2012, a year with early crop maturity were 77 and 79 degrees, respectively. In addition, spring 2014 was wet in South Georgia. Average April rainfall for Tifton is 3.81″ from 1912-2003. We had 8.72″ in April 2014. Such cool, wet conditions are a perfect recipe for poor pollination.

UGA pecan breeder, Dr. Patrick Conner collects pollen shed and pistil receptivity data each year for the many varieties growing at the UGA Ponder Farm. He shared with me these numbers for Desirable and Stuart, which you can see below: (Click on image to enlarge)

Pollination Dates

As you can see, Desirable and Stuart normally match up very well with each other. The pollen shed period for one normally covers most or all of the other’s pistil receptivity . However, in 2014  Stuart pollen shed only caught the last 3 days of Desirable pistil receptivity, while Desirable pollen only covered the first 2 or 3 days of Stuart receptivity. While this simply serves as one pollination example in one location, you can see that its very likely pollination was off this year. Pollen shed matched up poorly with pistil receptivity and its likely that the days they did match up, poor weather conditions limited the ability of the pollen to disperse properly. These factors likely played a large role in the issues we see with the size and volume of the 2014 pecan crop.”

Posted in Horticulture, Pecans | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Question of the Week – Loquat Blooms

Posted by romeethredge on November 7, 2014

Loquats (aka Japanese plum) start blooming this time of year and that’s why we don’t get to eat very many of the delicious fruit in some years due to freezes causing a crop loss. They are very good to eat when they make. They have large seeds so be careful when biting into them.

Native to China, the loquat tree is an evergreen with large, stiff leaves. The tree can attain a height of 25 feet and a spread of 15 to 20 feet.  It’s an excellent specimen or accent in the home landscape.

The mature loquat tree can withstand temperatures of 10 degrees without serious injury, but both flowers and fruit are killed at temperatures below about 27. Unfortunately, loquat blooms in late fall to early winter and must mature its fruit during the winter months. Thus, fruiting rarely occurs except in the deep south or following mild winters in middle Georgia.

If fruit production is a consideration, loquats could be planted on the south or southeast side of a building.

Loquats should begin to bear in 2 to 3 years, with a well-developed older tree easily producing 100 pounds of fruit. A particularly heavy crop will usually be of smaller fruit size.

 It is firm and juicy, and contains two or three large, smooth, dark brown seeds. The flavor varies from sweet to tangy, depending upon the variety.

The fruit can be eaten fresh from the tree or frozen intact for later use. It also can be made into excellent jelly, jam, preserves, cobbler or pies.

 UGA’s Minor Fruits in Georgia publication has some info on the loquat.




Here’s this week’s question. While fishing on Spring creek recently, we found this on a log. What is it?


Posted in Agriculture, Fruits, Horticulture, Wildlife | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Fall Sweet Corn

Posted by romeethredge on October 3, 2014

 Fall sweet corn is now being harvested and is very sweet. There is bicolor corn like in the photo below and yellow as well.  There is younger corn as well that we will keep on hand harvesting to keep it fresh in the stores.

This corn is for the fresh corn-on-the-cob market but we also have many acres of processor sweet corn that will be machine harvested and cut into sections to be frozen.





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Posted in Horticulture | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Question of the Week – Lightning

Posted by romeethredge on September 19, 2014

Yes, the pine trees got struck by lightning and the bark and cambium busted as the lightning ran to the ground. They will likely die in the near future.  These were at the edge of an open field. That’s why we shouldn’t take shelter under trees during a thunderstorm, especially when they are the tallest thing around.



I heard of a tractor that was struck as it sat under a barn in the same storm. It had a disk harrow attached that was down into the ground behind it, grounding it. The farmer came by the next day and noticed the tractor lights were on and when he checked, the light switch was off. Then he noticed that it wouldn’t crank and lightning did a lot of damage to the electrical circuits.

Would the lightning have affected it as badly if it were just sitting on its rubber tires with no implement in the dirt?

This week I have a question about these peanuts. Why are they so dark and can you tell what variety they are?


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Posted in Horticulture, Peanuts | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Early Halloween Decorations

Posted by romeethredge on September 5, 2014

We get calls about strange looking webbing on trees that sometimes covers a lot of the trunk. It looks like someone is decoration for Halloween or something. My neighboring agent wrote this good article about this subject.

Strange Webbing on Trees around the County

Justin Ballew, Decatur County Ag and Natural Resources Agent

Over the last several weeks I have received a number of calls from folks that are concerned about strange looking webbing they have noticed on their trees. It’s not like the webbing from webworms that we so frequently see on the tips of branches of pecan trees or the webbing from Eastern Tent Caterpillars that we see in hardwood trees where the branches adjoin to the one another. This webbing is altogether different. It is on the trunk of the tree and resembles a layer of skin over the bark. It often extends from near the ground to high up in the branches of the tree and sometimes on the branches. When examined up close, the webbing is extremely fine, soft to the touch, and pulls apart easily. This webbing is not from a webworm or caterpillar, but from a tiny insect called a bark louse.


Despite their name, bark lice are no way related to the insects that infest human hair and bring terror to our hearts at the mention of the word “lice.” They don’t even look like human lice, but you’ll need a microscope to tell. Bark lice can be seen crawling about when their webbing is pulled apart, but they are so small that it’s not easy. Without the webbing, you would most likely never notice them at all.

Bark lice live in the furrows of bark on trees and feed on a wide range of materials including algae, lichens, pollen, and fragments of dead insects. The webbing we see is a defense mechanism for the tiny insects. They are not able to fight off predators nor are they the fastest critters in the world, so they create the webbing as a means of protection from predators and the elements.

Bark lice appear to be more numerous and noticeable this year than they have been in the past. It’s not fully understood why, though populations seem to build more quickly in times of prolonged high humidity. Aside from the webbed decorations they create on the trees they inhabit, bark lice are totally harmless. The webbing will break down as the season goes on and will be gone before you know it. If desired, the process can be sped up by washing it away with a pressure washer. Since no damage is being caused, no pesticides are recommended for bark lice.

Posted in Agriculture, Entomology, Horticulture | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Yellow Necked Caterpillars

Posted by romeethredge on August 8, 2014

Yellow necked caterpillars are messing up some blueberry plants. This time of year we can see these caterpillars in large numbers. They can feed on other plants and trees as well. Moths lay eggs on plants and the young caterpillar hatches out eating and grows and eats more. They can eat all the leaves off of a blueberry bush pretty quickly. So if you have some blueberries , scout to make sure these critters aren’t defoliating them.


I took these photos this week in Arrowhead estates. See the bottom photo of the plant greatly affected.

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Posted in Entomology, Horticulture | Leave a Comment »

Sweet Corn Workshop – Camilla

Posted by romeethredge on July 17, 2014

Stripling Irrigation Research Park is hosting a Sweet Corn Production Workshop at SIRP on Tuesday July 22.

Here’s the tentative schedule for the Workshop:

9am – Welcome (Calvin Perry)

9:10am – Fertility and Varieties (Dr. Tim Coolong)

9:30am – Insect Management (Dr. Stormy Sparks)

9:50am – Weed Management (Andy Shirley)

10:10am – Weather Station Network (Dr. Ian Flitcroft)

10:30am – Break

10:45am – Irrigation Management including Drip (Dr. Gary Hawkins)

11:05am – Previous Irrigation Management Projects, Soil Moisture Sensors (Rad Yager)

11:25am – Precision Ag, Soil Mapping, Etc. (Dr. Wes Porter)

11:45am – Food Safety, Sanitation Management (Dr. Bill Hurst)

12:05pm – Lunch

**For lunch arrangements, we will need to get a head count.

Please RSVP today.

Calvin Perry

Voice 229-522-3623  Fax 229-522-3624



Posted in Horticulture | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Question of the Week – Spanish Moss

Posted by romeethredge on May 2, 2014

Last week I had a photo of a Liveoak tree with Spanish moss hanging from the limbs, a beautiful sight.

I had a good answer from Jimmy Laska ,”Spanish Moss, and no ill effects to the tree that supports it. An interesting unknown fact about our southern moss friend is it’s directly related to the Pineapple! The two most widely known plants from the Bromeliad family are the pineapple (Ananas comosus) and the graceful “southern Bromeliad” known as Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides).” We have a very good UGA publication that talks about this moss.

This week I have a photo of an aquatic weed that we have in Lake Seminole that I want you to identify and tell me about it.


Posted in Horticulture, Water, Weeds | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Potatoes Coming Up

Posted by romeethredge on March 21, 2014

We have some large fields of Irish potatoes coming up and growing well.  Most of the ones planted here will go to be crispy potato chips. They were a little slow due to the cold weather but are growing strong now.


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Posted in Horticulture | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

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