January 17, 2016

Christmas tree update 1.17.16

Digging back through the masses of email.  And then getting ready for MORE meetings and presentations!

Even though we haven’t seen much salt use so far, it is useful to know the impact of salts on plants and how to protect them

More or less deer browse with no snow? Learn more about how to manage the little darlings – Deer management resources, including webinars January 20 and 27, 2016.  Registration and webinar information in second paragraph.

More webinars – Soil and Nutrient Management for Field Grown Ornamentals and Christmas Trees in February from Michigan State University

There may be no such thing as a free lunch but MSU has free Pest Scouting Bulletins to download.  Perennial Crops includes conifers.

Just in case you didn’t do it yet – how to winterize your sprayer

Getting an old field ready for new trees – help from MSU
Part 1 and Part 2

Well, that should keep you off the streets for a bit!  Have a great week!  Come by and say HI if you are at the CTFANY meeting!

November 16, 2015

November 16, 2015

There seems to be a flurry of changes to federal regulations.  Some are now in place and others are still in a comment period.  Please check to determine if they will affect your operations.

EPA Worker Protection Standards

More training!  And other changes to the EPA’s Worker Protection Standards.  It has now been published in the Federal Register, which starts the countdown to required implementation. Very handy comparison of the existing and new WPS.

EPA Pesticide Applicator Certification Rules – Comment period extended until Dec 23, 2015 (leaving you time to wrap packages afterwards).

To help New York State pesticide applicators and educators better understand these proposed changes, the Pesticide Management Education Program (PMEP) at Cornell University has developed several resources outlining what’s being proposed, how they could impact New York State pesticide applicators and educators, and how to submit effective comments to the EPA. Even though the materials are focused on New York State, they can be used by anyone interested in learning more about the proposed regulation changes. The resources are posted in the newsroom of our website at the top of the page.

(and if you produce food crops in addition to trees)
FDA Food Safety Modernization Act – Produce Safety Rule

Check the exemptions to see if it applies to you.  The document is pretty dense so if I find a helpful guide, I’ll send it along.

Good luck and let me know if you have questions!  I will find someone to answer them as best I can!

May 21, 2015

May 21, 2015

Seems like I am running 6 ways to next Tuesday! But I guess that is spring for you.  Can you tell me how it got to be almost the end of May?

Do we really need a new pest?  Norway spruce gall midge (Piceacecis abietiperda).  From the UMass Extension Landscape Message: The Norway spruce gall midge is native to Europe and was first detected in Connecticut in 1983. Symptoms include deformed or bent shoots, swellings in nodes and premature needle shedding. This pest is known only from Norway spruce in both Europe and northeastern North America.

We have had a report from NY also.  Has anyone seen something that sounds like this? I can’t find very good information on it but will keep looking!

Caterpillars with blue and red spots? You’re not seeing things –  it might be gypsy moth larvae.  Every year we have a few sightings and it is getting to be that time.  You can get good control with Bacillus thuringiensis (don’t try to pronounce it – it’s Bt) products when the larvae are small.  Get out there  scouting!

Do you need another reason to scout? Elongate hemlock scale is out in PA

Pine needle scale crawlers come out with the lilacs

Also on the landscape radar – pine sawflies.  Check out Brian’s post –

We don’t often have thresholds for determining when to spray – unlike some other crops. But Michigan State does have one for eriophyid (rust) mites – the 80:8 rule (I just made  up that name but maybe that will help us remember).  80% of shoots with mites and at least 8 mites on a single needle. Guess that means you have to scout for them.  Are you seeing a trend here?

Another comment from a NY grower – All our employees have reported ticks– including Deer ticks- so now we have a  searchdown at the end of each day!!! Not a bad idea!  And here is some handy advice.

Remember I asked what anyone is doing about the spruce decline issue?  Here’s what Dan Stutzman responded:

Here is what we are doing in regards to the Spruce problem. 1. Increased our spacing from 6×6 to 7×7,  2 select only sites with good air drainage( with wind exposure from the west), and 3 MOST IMPORTANT MAKE SURE TREES ARE IN ALLIGNMENT BOTH DIRECTIONS SO AS TO PROMOTE  GOOD AIR DRAINAGE, butt prune bottom 6 inches of branches,( where disease starts), and finally keep  fields mowed BOTH ways

Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask about rusts.   Not on your equipment, on your trees.  We see fir fern rust and fir broom rust and white pine blister rust . . .  so learning about rust life cycles might just help!

We are still getting some reports that I think are winter injury.  You should be able to see buds breaking soon if not already – so maybe there is hope for many of those trees!

And for the ‘what else are you growing besides trees’ corner?

Understanding strobilurin fungicides for pumpkins (they aren’t just for pumpkins anymore – but probably more used than in trees)

How about Juneberries?  (Known as Saskatoon berries in my half Canadian household!) The production workshop is in June – how appropriate!

Now we have a grower with asparagus as an diversification crop.  I’ll have to start adding asparagus information (just saw some on diseases – so ask if you want it (you know who you are!)

Things are never dull in this job!  Have a great week!

May 14, 2015

Christmas tree IPM update 5.14.15

I know you are all out there finishing planting, starting spraying, and in some areas, doing rain dances.  I don’t think we have enough but we did get some rain in Ithaca.  I’m willing to dance, though, now that the frost has melted off my lawn!

Now the landscape people are asking –  How to tell the difference between winter injury and something else?

And a flood of questions on sad looking spruce.  We don’t know exactly what it is, but spruce decline describes it pretty well.

2014 – Cornell Plant Diagnostic Clinic samples – you can see we more often know what it isn’t than is. And from Ontario.

And for the pumpkin planters – It’s out there and it’s heading this way!  You can check out where cucurbit downy mildew has been identified and watch it crawl up the eastern coast.  Bwa-ha-ha-ha.  Or it can help you plan your fungicide applications so they are effective!

Brian’s little Doug fir has broken bud – so it must be time to think about Swiss needle cast and Rhabdocline. And other diseases that need tender young needles to infect. Rain helps to make the perfect environment.

Also getting to be time to check for balsam twig aphid – tap branches over paper plates to catch the nymphs.

Those weeds will come on fast with a little water and warm temperatures (sorry to burst your bubble).  MSU has a new resource

Enough for one day, I expect!  Brian and I are working on the Conifer IPM app so it seems like I am immersed in Christmas tree topics!


April 23, 2015

The Arbor Day Edition

Paul Hetzler very kindly sends me his entertaining and tree oriented writings – and I usually get comments back.



Be Nice to Arbors This Friday
By Paul Hetzler, Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County
Muskrat Day. Velcro Appreciation Month. Hair Follicle Hygiene Week. Arbor Day. You know it’s an obscure event when the greeting-card trade hasn’t bothered to capitalize on it. I like to think the industry knows Arbor Day is worthy of a Hallmark line, but that they’ve decided to honor its spirit by conserving paper. (C’mon, it’s possible.)
While it’s not the best-known observance, Arbor Day has a respectable history, as well as local, um, roots. Begun in 1872 by Adams, NY native J. Sterling Morton, Arbor Day was intended to highlight the need to conserve topsoil and increase timber availability in his adopted state of Nebraska. Though it began as an American tradition, Arbor Day, which is observed on the last Friday in April, is now celebrated worldwide.
Not only was Morton passionate about planting trees, for him the act seemed to verge on the sacred. He said “The cultivation of trees is the cultivation of the good, the beautiful and the ennobling in mankind,” and believed every tree planted made this nation a little better. J. Sterling went on to become rich and famous with his Morton Salt Company, and Arbor Day went on to become a somewhat obscure, if virtuous, tradition.
I tend to agree with Morton’s lofty pronouncement. To plant a tree is to invest in the future, and is an act of generosity and responsibility. When we add a tree to our community, it’s likely that many generations of people after our passing will enjoy it.
Trees add value to our lives in surprising ways. Many of us have heard the spiel about how trees decrease home energy costs, increase property value, filter pollutants and all that. But did you know that shoppers spend more money when there are trees in a downtown shopping district, and that homes sell faster on tree-lined streets?
How many of us are aware that hospital patients who can look out on trees from their bed have better outcomes? And did you know that crime rates drop significantly when urban neighborhoods are planted with trees? And that lying under a shade tree in summer cures acne? OK, I made that last one up, but the rest is true.
It may be noble to plant a tree, but it has to be done right or you might as well rent it. A poorly planted tree will only live a fraction of its potential lifespan. Location is the first thing to consider. Kids and trees generally look cute when you bring them home from the nursery, but they grow up fast and often take up more room than you expected. If your site is under wires or has restricted space for branches or roots you need the right species and variety of tree that can grow full-size without causing conflicts.
The old adage “dig a fifty-dollar hole for a five-dollar tree” may need to be adjusted for inflation but the idea still has currency, so to speak. Ninety percent of tree roots are in the top ten inches of soil. To reflect this fact, the planting hole should be saucer-shaped and 2-3 times the diameter of the root system, but no deeper—ever. Otherwise the Planting Police will ticket you. OK that’s fiction too, but if I happen to come along I may scowl at you. It’s imperative the root flare (a.k.a. trunk flare) be right at ground level, because deep planting leads to serious future health problems. For the tree, primarily.

Before backfilling, remove all fabric and twine on ball-and-burlap trees, and yes, those wire cages should be cut away. Container-grown trees may have circling roots that need to be teased out straight.
Adding loads of organic matter to the backfill likely dates back to ancient times, when folks might grab an arborist, if one was handy, and throw them in the planting hole. Possibly in response to this, arborists these days recommend little or no additional organic matter in most cases.
With very sandy or heavy clay soils, moderate amounts of peat moss, compost or other amendments can be used in the backfill. Adding more than 30% by volume can cause a “teacup effect,” and roots can suffocate (water is held in the hole and doesn’t move into the soil quickly). Fertilizer is stressful on new transplants, so wait at least a year on that. In healthy native soils, trees may need little or no fertilizer.
Water thoroughly as you backfill, and prod the soil with a stick or shovel handle to eliminate air pockets. Unless the site is very windy it’s best not to stake the tree—movement is needed for a strong trunk to develop. Two to four inches of mulch over the planting area (but not touching the trunk) will help conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Throughout the first season, check the soil every few days to be sure it’s moist but not waterlogged.
If you’re looking for a suggestion, here are some exceptional trees for street and yard planting:
Washington Hawthorn: small, disease resistant, white flowers, tolerates road salt
Japanese Tree Lilac: small, drought tolerant, large cream-colored flowers
Heritage River Birch: med-large, few insect pests, pinkish-white peeling bark
Skyline Honeylocust: med-large, tolerant of wet soils, drought & road salt, thornless
Prairie Pride Hackberry: large, drought tolerant, wildlife eat berries
Kentucky Coffeetree: large, disease and pest free, drought tolerant
Bur Oak: large, tolerant of both drought and intermittently wet soil, and can live 800+ years!
Have a happy Arbor Day this April 24th—planting a tree is a great activity to share with loved ones, and a great investment in the future.