I think everyone can agree that this summer has been a strange one and has been a stark contrast to the droughts that we went through for the past three years. The above average rainfall that we have received along with the normal summer temperatures have created the perfect environment for many diseases to flourish. Diseases like needle cast and twig blight on spruces and firs, leaf spot on birches, hawthorns, apples and amelanchiers, tar spot on maples, verticillium wilt in maples, oak leaf blister, phomopsis on junipers and cedars, cytospora canker in spruces and many types of rust that have been running rampant throughout the landscapes. These diseases cannot be cured at this time, the only thing that can be done for the plants is to make sure that the infected leaves are cleaned up from under the plants or diseased parts cut out of the plants. If you are pruning diseased branches out of junipers or cedars, make sure to sterilize the pruning shears between cuts with bleach to limit the spread of the diseases. Fertilization in the fall is recommended for all plants that have been infected to help strengthen the plants and to replace the nutrients that were lost due to premature leaf drop.
Because of the rainfall, many insects have been delayed in their lifecycle. Some of the insects that are prevalent at this time are bagworm on arborvitae and blue atlas cedars, whiteflies on azaleas and Japanese hollies. Some webworm activity has been starting up as well. Scale on plums, cherries, pines and junipers is still a problem. Spruce galls should be removed from the branches to limit the populations of this pest before the adults emerge and lay their eggs. Beech scale crawlers will begin moving out onto the branches within the next few weeks. Most of these scale problems can be controlled with a light application of horticultural oil at time of emergence.
As a side not, I had the pleasure (?) of speaking with a representative from the Neighborhood Network that was trying to get me to sign a petition in support of the new aesthetics bill that is currently being discussed. This bill would ban all insecticide, fungicide and herbicide applications if they are being done for aesthetic purposes. In other words, if you want your lawn weed free, you couldn't apply any herbicides to control the weeds because this would be illegal for the purpose of this law. The biggest problem with this law other than it is completely ridiculous and unenforceable, is that it was written so vaguely that it would be up to the interpretations of the health departments and the D.E.C. to figure out who it applies to and how to try to enforce it. They are also looking to ban several active ingredients that are found in weed controls, insect controls and fungicides. The one insect control they are targeting is diazanon, a very effective grub control that has already been pulled off the market for the landscaping industry but may still be available for the home owner to apply.
The real question is, who is this bill really aimed at? Is it aimed at stopping the homeowner from trying to maintain their lawn and landscape in the best shape that they can? Or is it aimed at the landscaping industry once again to impose more regulations on an industry that is already swimming in regulations? If the Neighborhood network truly wanted to reduce these "cancer causing chemicals" then they would support a program of training and licensing for the general public that wanted to do their own lawn and landscape spraying. I don't think this will ever happen, although it is the most logical solution to the problem, it would also create a lot of adverse feelings in the general public when they are told that they cannot buy any pesticides until they are certified by which ever agency is appointed to oversee their training and licensing.
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