Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Farm City Day - October 1, 10am-4pm

The Annual Farm City Day Festival is schedule for October 1st, 2011 in Jackson Park. This event boasts attendance each year of over 10,000 Henderson County residents eager to learn about farming, animals, and community. Bring your family to enjoy a large petting zoo, pony rides, children's games, crafters, live music and entertainment, and a tractor pull scheduled throughout the day. Contact Karen at 828-697-4900 or Diane at 828-697-4891 for more info. Click here for our website.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Armillaria Root Rot in the Landscape: Attack of the "Humongous Fungus"

Root rot is one of the most commonly diagnosed disease problems of woody plants in landscapes in North Carolina. Each year we see dozens of shrubs and trees that have one of the “big three” root rotting diseases: Phytophthora root rot, Thielaviopsis black root rot, or Armillaria root rot.

This article will feature Armillaria root rot. Armillaria root rot is caused by species of the fungus Armillaria. Common names for this group of fungi include the oak fungi, shoestring root rot fungi, or the honey fungi, the latter referring to the honey-colored mushrooms the fungus produces.

Armillaria is a common soil inhabitant and can infect a very wide host range including; oaks, maples, azaleas, beeches, birches, boxwoods, cedars, dogwoods, firs, poplars, rhododendrons, yews, roses, spruces, and sycamores (pretty much any woody tree or shrub). It can be destructive in orchards or on fruit trees in the landscape.

Armillaria is typically a problem in older plants or plants that have been stressed due to drought, frost, insect attack, mechanical injuries, poor drainage, low soil fertility excessive shade, or pollution damage.

Above-ground symptoms include leaf drop, dieback, and an overall decline in plant vigor. Armillaria infections start in young roots, but soon the fungus begins to decay larger woody roots.

Unlike most plant pathogenic fungi, Armillaria produces mushrooms and other structures that are visible to the naked eye. Three diagnostic signs of Armillaria root rot include:

1. Mycelial Fans: The most common diagnostic sign of this disease can be found beneath the bark (between the bark and the wood) at the base of the tree or shrub. White or creamy paper-like mycelial fans can be observed when the outer bark is carefully peeled away. These white mycelial fans can also be found beneath the bark of infected roots and root collar area.

2. Black Rhizomorphs: Sometimes rhizomorphs (dense strings of mycelium) that look like black shoestrings can be found under the bark or throughout the soil around infected tissue. Rhizomorphs serve as one of the primary means of dissemination. Rhizomorphs grow through the soil from infected trees, roots, or old stumps. They are able to directly penetrate healthy roots and cause disease.

3. Honey Mushrooms: In the fall, honey-colored mushrooms can be seen growing near the base of diseased trees and shrubs. Typically, these mushrooms grow in clusters. These mushroom produce microscopic basidiospores, but the spores are not thought to play an important role in the spread of the disease. Most species of Armillaria are edible and are quite tasty. Caution: It is always best to have any mushrooms identified by an expert before you eat them. Eating misidentified mushrooms can be fatal!


Usually homeowners do not notice Armillaria root rot until the plant is dead or dying. No control is possible at this point and the plant should be removed.

Replanting can be problematic because Armillaria can survive for many years as rhizomorphs in soil or in old wood and stumps. Remove the affected plant and thoroughly dig up and remove all large roots, stumps and any other wood or prunings from the affected area. When planting in areas where a plant has died, or where trees have been removed, as in new construction, remove all old roots, stumps, and wood before replanting. Consider planting ornamental herbaceous or perennial plants or grasses in the area for a few years before attempting to replant woody species.

Healthy trees and shrubs are better able to resist Armillaria root rot than stressed plants. Choose species that are well-adapted to your region and growing site. Maintain their health by fertilizing as recommended, watering during dry spells, and improving drainage in wet areas. When possible, prevent defoliation from insects and foliar diseases. Be careful to avoid damage to roots when digging or tilling. Do not push up soil around tree trunks and do not move soil from affected areas into sites where woody species are growing.

From: Emma Lookabaugh, Plant Disease and Insect Clinic, NCSU

Note: Special thanks to Dr. Larry Grand for helping with this article!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pest Alert - Japanese Maple Scale

Japanese maple scale, Lopholeucaspis japonica , is active now and much of the summer. It is a small, oystershell-shaped, armored scale believed to have been introduced to the U.S. from Asia. Japanese maple scale is found in several eastern U.S. states, including North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Japanese maple scale has a wide host range that in addition to maples (e.g., Japanese maples, red maples, paperbark maples, and sugar maples) Cornus, Ilex, Magnolia, Malus, Stewartia, Ulmus and others.

Although the lifecycle of this pest has not been fully examined, two generations a year are expected in the mid-southern U.S. First generation crawlers emerge in mid-May, and the second generation in early August. Management efforts are complicated by the extended crawler hatch observed for Japanese maple scales that results in first and second generational overlap. Thus, the most recent sample we received had every stage (egg to adult) present at the same time.

Adult scales and crawlers are very small and most readily observed on bark of dormant deciduous host plants, but can also be found on foliage. The waxy coating on the body of male Japanese maple scales is white and females, eggs, and crawlers are lavender. The most work on this scale has been done at the University of Maryland and their fact sheet on the Japanese maple scale is available on the web at this site.

Steve Frank, Extension Entomologist, NC State University

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Residential Rain Garden Workshop Offered August 30th

As homeowners and property managers become more aware of the issues of stormwater management many of them are choosing to manage the runoff from their homes and businesses with rain gardens. Rain gardens are shallow depressions and serve as landscape features that can effectively collect and treat stormwater and reduce localized flooding. Rain gardens can be integrated into the existing landscape as a retrofit or be included in the initial landscaping plan. To effectively manage stormwater, rain gardens must be accurately sized and properly constructed.

This 1-day workshop will present a method for sizing and designing rain gardens and detail proper construction techniques. For pre-registration call 828-697-4891 and leave your name and number. If you need more information be sure to leave your contact information or e-mail Cliff Ruth at

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Apple Recipe Contest - September 2, 2011

The annual Apple Recipe Contest is only weeks away and NC Cooperative Extension is looking for both amateurs and professionals to enter their original non-copyrighted recipes. Winners will receive great prizes, a ribbon, and I can't forget to mention the bragging rights that accompany winning the contest at the NC Apple Festival. Recipe entry forms and the written recipe must be mailed, faxed, or delivered by August 31, 2011 to NC Cooperative Extension. If you would like more information, contact Renay at 828-697-4891.

Garden Lectures for Home Gardeners

Henderson County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers are offering a series of lectures for a small fee of $5.00 per participant for each program. Money raised is used to support future educational efforts by the Volunteers. All lectures will be held on at 3:00pm in the classroom at the Bullington Center.

Fall 2011 Schedule
Sep 19 Prepare your Lawn for Spring – Now!
Sep 26 Beauty from Bulbs
Oct 3 Success with Houseplants
Oct 17 Add WOW to your Garden with Hydrangeas
Oct 24 Putting the Garden to Bed

To register for these or other upcoming Mastering Your Garden Lectures, call the Extension office at 697-4891. Keep checking our county website for more information on upcoming lectures.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bullington Center Annual Fall Plant Sale

Friday, September 9 and Saturday, September 10
10 am – 4 pm

Mums, pansies, perennials, shrubs
Visit the Garden Shed for
Gently-used tools, yard art and books

95 Upper Red Oak Trail
Hendersonville, NC

I-26 East to Hwy. 64 East, Left on Howard Gap Road
Right on Zeb Corn Road, Right on Upper Red Oak Trail

All proceeds support our gardens and educational programs
Cash and checks only

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Announcement: WNC Naturally Events

Do you wild-harvest or grow medicinal herbs? Are you looking for a buyer? Do you make products with medicinal herbs? Are you looking for local suppliers? Are you a forest landowner looking to make some extra income from your land but don't know which plants to harvest or how to do it sustainably? Do you want to start cultivating medicinal herbs?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, register to attend one of three "WNC Naturally Events" being held in three convenient locations in western North Carolina. These are inexpensive, participatory events with sessions led by people ho have been involved in the natural products (medicinal herb) industry for many years. They are all the same, so pick the one most convenient for you. The first event is coming up real soon, so sign up now!

Here are the details:
Events: Three WNC Naturally Events
Dates: August 6, 2011, The Almond Center, Bryson City, NC
August 27, 2011, AB Tech Enka Campus, Candler, NC
October 22, 2011, Mill Spring Agricultural Center, Mill Spring, NC

For more information, or if you would like to have a table to promote your business or organization at one or more of these or would like to sponsor these
events, contact Alison at or 828-684-3562. To register on-line, please visit our EventBrite site.

This notice was provided by Jeanine Davis, Dept. of Horticultural Science, NC State University. For more information on the projects and the NC Natural Products Association, please visit this site.

Herbicide Injury on Tomatoes... A Gardeners Experiment

Jim and Elizabeth Curtis have been kind enough to share these great photographs with me. We had a few concerns that some compost they are using in their vegetable gardens might have contained herbicide residue. The first picture is of two tomato plants, one planted in regular potting soil and one planted in the compost used to amend their garden soil.

After about 2 months of the two plants receiving identical moisture and sunlight, this is how the two plants are looking. The tomato in the grey pot is the one with regular potting soil and the green pot is the one with the compost.

Here is a close up of the deformed tomato stems and leaves, common symptoms of herbicide injury.

If you need more information or help diagnosing a plant problem, be sure to contact your local Extension Office. Click here for a listing of NC County Offices.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Drought and Fertilizer: How Two Mainstays of Summer Bring in the Bugs

In the middle of the hot summer, insect populations build to increasingly damaging levels. Pest control becomes harder this time of the season, and two key little-known issues arise for herbivorous insect control.

Drought: Plant stress due to heat and drought can lead to higher herbivore numbers, especially if that stress is intermittent. For example, let’s say you have a shrub, and aphids really like that shrub. You do not water it regularly, and the plant lives outside in the heat of the summer. The weather has stayed dry for a while, and your shrub is starting to stress. Sap feeders like aphids do not usually respond well to drought, because plant sap is powered by turgor pressure, and the sap must move for them to eat. No rain, no food. However, leafy plants produce more nitrogen in times of stress. Your dry, stressed plant produces tons of nitrogen and then (viola!) it rains. The aphids suddenly have everything they need to produce tons of baby aphids.

Fertilizers: Nitrogen fertilizers are generally applied to improve plant growth and help them cope with biotic and abiotic stresses. However, although maintaining plant health is the first line of defense against herbivore attack, trees that are over fertilized are often more vulnerable. This occurs by improving plant nutrition for herbivores. Just as nitrogen is essential for plant growth, it also increases herbivore growth. Therefore, plant tissue that is high in nitrogen due to fertilization makes herbivorous pests grow faster and reproduce more. Fertilizer also benefits herbivores by reducing plant defenses. This happens because nitrogen stimulates rapid plant growth which requires all the carbon fixed through photo-synthesis to be used for plant tissue instead of defensive chemicals. Therefore, plants do not build chemicals toxic to herbivores or chemicals that attract natural enemies such as parasitoids to help defend themselves. Therefore, be sure to calibrate fertilizer application equipment, and do not apply more fertilizer than is recommended or necessary to maintain plant quality.

From: Steve Frank, NCSU Extension Entomologist

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bullington Center: Mid-Summer Plant Sale

ONE DAY ONLY! Saturday July 16th, 2011. 10:00am - 4:00pm

Come see the hand-selected inventory of plants for sale at this special summer event. Examples of plants now in bloom include coneflower, rudbeckia, daylilies, Rozanne geranium, hosta and many more.
For more information of to inquire about a specific plant, call (828)698-6104. See you there.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Squash Bugs Present by the Hundreds in Henderson County Gardens

These pests of vegetable gardens usually hide under leaves or around the base of plants. They characteristically shy away or move to cover when approached.

All cucurbit vine crops are subject to squash bug infection. The bugs prefer squash, pumpkin, cucumber, and melon, in that order.

Feeding in colonies, adults and nymphs pierce vines with their needle-like mouthparts. While feeding, they inject a toxic substance into plants. As a result, vines quickly turn black and dry out. This aspect of squash bug damage superficially resembles bacterial wilt symptoms. When infestations are heavy, fruit may not form.

Squash bugs overwinter as adults under plant debris or other suitable shelter. When cucurbit vines start to run in spring, squash bugs fly into gardens and mate. Over a period of several weeks, eggs are laid on undersides of leaves, typically in the angles formed by leaf veins. One or 2 weeks later, depending on the temperature, nymphs hatch from the eggs and begin to feed.

In small gardens, adult squash bugs and leaves with egg masses can be handpicked and destroyed. The bugs can also be trapped by placing small boards near the host vines. Squash bugs gather under the boards at night and are easily collected and destroyed the next morning.

Should a significant infestation develop, insecticide recommendations and rates can be found in the current North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual.

Non-native and Invasive Forest Plants Workshops for Landowners

The Non-native and Invasive Forest Plants Workshops for Landowners is a series of 6 one-day educational workshops featuring presentations by experts in non-native invasive plants that impact North Carolina’s forests. Each workshop will engage regionally based stakeholder groups in the planning and educational content.

What you will learn

  • What are non-native and invasive species, and why should you care?
  • Identification of specific problem species
  • The impacts of these plants on forest communities (ecologic, economic and cultural)
  • How non-native species are introduced
  • What are the risks of the “do-nothing” style of management
  • Gain exposure to organized NNI stakeholder groups and efforts currently taking shape, or ongoing, in your region
  • Resources available to landowners and what steps you can take
  • How your neighbors and local professionals are dealing with NNI challenges.
Workshop Regional Locations and Dates Advanced registration for these workshops is required. Need more information? Online registration form CLICK HERE or Contact the NCSU Forestry and Environmental Outreach Program at 919-515-9563, or by email:

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kudzu Bug Found on Soybeans in Henderson County

Kudzu bug has moved into soybean fields in Henderson County in the past few weeks, some of which were flowering. So far, kudzu bug has been relatively easy to kill with insecticides (except with neonicotinoid insecticides), but will often reinvade. A preliminary economic threshold, based on Georgia data, is one bug per sweep with large nymphs present, or three bugs per plant with large nymphs present. This is the threshold that we will be using in our state until more information is gathered. Like stink bugs, this insect seems to invade the field edges first, so be sure to scout entire fields.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Protect Your Skin While in Your Garden

There are many positives in gardening, but we must think of the dangers associated with spending too much time in the sun unprotected. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Be sure to follow these simple suggestions below each time you spend time in your garden.
  • Limit sun exposure to early morning or late afternoon
  • Make sure you wear proper protection with a wide brim hat and sunglasses
  • Always, always wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks
  • Most dermatologists recommend all parts of the body that are not covered by clothes should be adequately protected with broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen of sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher every two hours while outside.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Farm City Day 2011 - Demonstrators Needed

The Annual Farm City Day Festival is schedule for October 1st, 2011 in Jackson Park. This event boasts attendance each year of over 10,000 Henderson County residents eager to learn about farming, animals, and community. If you would like to participate, we are looking for non-profit organizations to showcase their cause and local agriculture supporters to demonstrate a trade. Contact Karen at 828-697-4900 or Diane at 828-697-4891 for more info. Click here for our website

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cicadas, The Next Class

Periodical cicadas were a big hit this spring across most of North Carolina. It is now time for the annual cicada to make its appearance. Already spotted, are the larger green annual cicadas that appear every year in low numbers.

By now, most of you are familiar with cicadas. Every summer the chunky brown nymphs crawl from under the ground and perform a transformation as dramatic as the change of a chrysalis to a butterfly. Though the individual life cycle may last several years for the annuals, the entire population does not emerge in synchrony as do their famous earlier periodical cousins. You should now be able to enjoy their daytime buzzing and still hear yourself think.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lightning Bugs - Now Showing in NC

For the first time in several years, most of North Carolina has had a reasonable amount of rainfall in the spring. This year the lampyrids (lightning bugs) seem to be off to a good start. Lightning bugs are beetles. Fireflies are, coincidentally, also beetles!

Lightning bug adults produce a heat-free source of light through a biochemical reaction. The light flashes are used to attract mates. Different species have different flash patterns and are active at different times during the evening.

What does this have to do with pest management? One of the many great aspects of lightning bugs is that the larvae of some species are predatory on snails and slugs!

From: Steve Bambara, NCSU Extension Entomologist

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tips for Effective Ant Baiting

Baiting for ants has some advantages over other types of insecticides. First, baits can work when the nest cannot be found or it is inaccessible for treating with other chemicals. Second, baits pose less of a risk to children and staff by reducing the risk of possible contact with a toxic chemical. Third, baits can kill the entire colony whereas most insecticides sprayed on a surface kill only the workers that contact it.

Remember, baits are effective only if they are eaten and not all baits are equally attractive to different ant species. Make sure the bait you use is acceptable to the ants. Place a small amount of bait where you see ants foraging and then watch their reaction for a few minutes. If the ants show no interest in the bait, try another bait until you find one that they readily feed on. Once you find a bait that is acceptable to the ants, several other factors determine its effectiveness, including:

* Sanitation - Baits work best when there are no other food sources available to ants. Keep areas clean so ants are not "distracted" from locating and feeding on the bait.

* Proper placement - Bait should be placed in known or suspected areas of ant activity. Be sure that bait is placed out of the reach of children, pets, and wildlife. Never place bait directly on countertops where food is prepared or in an area where it will get wet and/or contaminated.

* Quantity - Make sure you put out enough bait and that it remains fresh. If the ants carry away all of the bait, then they may leave the area and go elsewhere before enough bait is spread within the colony. Ant species that are capable of producing large colonies, such as the Argentine ant, will most likely require more than one application of bait.

* Durability - Baits will eventually become unacceptable if they are exposed to high temperatures, rain, and sunlight. Check baited areas for signs of ant feeding and replace baits that are no longer acceptable to the ants.

* Patience is important to successful baiting. Most ant baits are slow-acting. You may continue to see ants for a week or more after baiting. It is important that the ants are able to return to the nest with the bait so it can be fed to other members of the colony. Do not disturb or kill the foraging ants.

* Remember, if you determine that chemical control is needed to successfully control the ants, never spray in areas baits have been applied. If the baits are contaminated, the ants will avoid the bait.

Click here for an "Ant Baiting Decision Tree" developed by Jules Silverman, Charles G. Wright Professor of Structural Pest Management, at North Carolina State University. You may use the baiting tree as a tool in determining what actions to take in order to successfully bait for ants.

From: Patty Alder, Training Coordinator, NCSU Department of Entomology

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Kudzu Bug Now Found in Transylvania and Union Counties

Kudzu bug (a.k.a. bean plataspid, Megacopta cribraria Fabricus) has recently been confirmed on kudzu in Union County and has potentially been found on wisteria in Transylvania County, North Carolina. I am awaiting the samples from Transylvania to confirm this identification. It is likely in other parts of the state, but because we have not done a concentrated search, its distribution in North Carolina is largely unknown.

Kudzu bug is a legume feeder and will feed on soybean in large numbers. We are concerned that this new invasive insect will become a major yield reducer in the future. Confirmed hosts are mainly legumes, but include cotton, wheat, and potato. Although many plants are confirmed hosts, kudzu bug may not feed extensively on them or may not reproduce on them. Soybean is the main agronomic host for this insect.

We are tracking this pest and would appreciate your contacting Dominic Reisig by electronic mail or telephone (252)793-4428 x133 if you find this pest in a non-confirmed county. If you can also provide GPS coordinates, as well as the plant on which it was found, it would enhance our ability to respond to this new threat. Please use caution not to spread this pest from field to field if you find it.

From: Dominic Reisig, NCSU Extension Entomologist

Friday, May 27, 2011

Food Preservation Classes Offered

North Carolina Cooperative Extension - Henderson County Center is offering a series of Food Preservation classes to the community. Please call 828-697-4891 for more information or to pre-register for any of these learning opportunities.

Canning High and Low Acid Foods
May 31st, 2011 @ 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM, June 6th, 2011 @ 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM, or June 6th, 2011 @ 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Jackson Park, Hendersonville, NC

Learn the latest information on canning high and low acid foods! Cost of class is $10.00.

Soft Spreads, Pickling, Freezing and Drying
June 2nd, 2011 @ 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Jackson Park, Hendersonville, NC

Learn how to make jams, jellies, pickles and relishes and the process of freezing and drying foods. Cost of class is $10.00 or attend 2 classes for $15.00.

Food Preservation - General Information
June 11th, 2011 @5:00pm
Hendersonville, NC

Covering all areas of safe food preservation. Includes Canning high and low acid foods, Soft Spreads, Pickling, Freezing and Drying foods. Cost of class is $15.00.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Drought Monitor Update

The North Carolina Drought Advisory issued by the Drought Management Advisory Council has been updated to reflect drought conditions on May 24, 2011 indicated on the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor of North Carolina. Luckily, western North Carolina has not been included in the recommendations to implement drought response actions. Click here for more info on areas included in the update.