Friday, August 18, 2017

Many Reasons for Illness in Trees

When people see a sick tree, they often think that some sort of disease is causing the illness. Actually, a majority of the problems causing trees and shrubs to look sick stem from stress or physical injury rather than disease.          
A common symptom of stress or injury is marginal leaf burn, or leaves fringed by dead tissue. This has been a common problem with numerous species of trees and shrubs this summer. Marginal leaf burns are seldom caused by leaf disease, which usually shows up as random lesions (dead areas) scattered about the leaf? Leaf burn occurs at the leaf tip or along the leaf margin because salts (plant nutrients) accumulated along leaf margins. Anything that causes the plant to pump insufficient water (stress) can result in a toxic burn of this tissue because it contains the highest level of salt.
          Stress symptoms ranging from leaf burns to limb dieback or tree death can result from numerous causes. Drought is the most obvious cause of stress.  This year we have had both extremely wet spring and in some cases excessive and the last most extremely dry drought conditions.  Large trees show responses to stress more slowly, some of the marginal burns now being observed relate to last summer. High temperatures cause plants to pump more water and simply compound drought problems. As temperatures rise in the upper 90° F or even exceed 100° F, water loss by some trees and shrubs can equal or exceed the ability of the roots to supply water, even when the soil moisture is not deficient. I expect we will continue to see some problems with trees and other landscape plants until we receive some significant rainfall.
   Because of extreme Texas temperatures each summer, freeze injury is often overlooked, yet it is one of the most common and damaging causes of stress. Direct injury to twigs and limbs is usually fairly evident, and the damaged wood can be pruned. Often the injury is more subtle, occurring on a portion of the trunk with no immediate or noticeable effect on the entire tree or shrub.
            Thick bark sometimes remains intact, hiding trunk freeze injury for well more than a year. Probing the bark on the lower 3 feet of the trunk with a screwdriver or tapping with a mallet (listen for hollow sound) will usually reveal hidden freeze injury if it is present.
            Just as drought causes trees to stress, so does excess water. Tree roots need oxygen in order to function properly, so roots that are waterlogged lose their ability to take up water. It can take several years for a seriously injured root system to be regenerated.
            In recent years, numerous trees growing in poorly drained soil have been killed or damaged following periods of heavy rainfall. Trees with damaged roots systems are vulnerable to summer droughts and heat stress. Be sure to deeply water your landscape trees as we continue into what are normally the driest months of the year.

Breakfast Matters

It’s that time of year again! School time! I hope that everyone’s year got off to an exciting start. Being sure to take time to enjoy a nutritional breakfast is one of the ways that children and parents alike can keep that high level of enthusiasm throughout the school year.

Breakfast has been dubbed the “most important meal of the day”.  However, breakfast is the most commonly missed meal of the day. Recent research suggests that children who eat breakfast are more likely to have healthful nutrition behaviors and make healthy food choices such as eating more fruits and vegetables than those who do not eat breakfast. Breakfast is also important for academic performance and may help with maintenance of a healthy weight, fewer United States youth are eating breakfast.  Here are a few ways you can make breakfast a part of your family’s daily routine.

First, be sure that as the parent you set a good example and eat a healthy breakfast every day.  Parents serve as role models for healthy eating behaviors to their children.  

Like any meal, breakfast takes planning. Prepare for breakfast as much as you can the night before. This might include slicing fruit, mixing frozen juice, or packing lunches for the next day at night so that you have time to prepare breakfast in the morning. Also include breakfast foods on your grocery list. Stock your kitchen with healthy breakfast options such as milk, juice, yogurt, fruit, or whole grain cereals.

Your children may also need a few minutes after waking up before they are ready to eat breakfast. Even though this means you are up earlier, you and your children will feel better. 

Some ideas for a healthy breakfast include peanut butter on whole wheat toast, low-fat yogurt with granola, toasted waffles with fruit, bagels with cheese, grits, hard boiled eggs, or oatmeal with dried fruit or nuts. 

To learn more about healthy breakfast options, contact Wise County’s Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office at 940/627-3341.
Take these egg cups on the run when you don't have time for a sit-down breakfast. This recipe is from our Dinner Tonight! program and can be frozen for up to 3 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator the night before and heat in the microwave when ready to serve. Substitutions are encouraged to fit your family’s taste and appetite. 

Southwestern Egg Cups
Yields six servings.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Coat a six-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Evenly divide the hash browns among the muffin cups and press firmly into the bottom and up the sides of each cup.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion and bell pepper until tender. Add the garlic and sausage; cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add yogurt.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the egg product with the salt and pepper Add the sausage mixture to the eggs then pour it evenly into the potato-lined muffin cups. Top with cheese.
  4. Bake 15-20 minutes or until the eggs are set.

Enjoying Texas Produce

            How fortunate for us that Texas is one of the largest producers of fresh fruits and vegetables which makers our choices almost endless.  This fact is important because of their high nutritional value. According to the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines, fruits and vegetables are major contributors of nutrients that are under-consumed in the United States, including folate, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and vitamins A, C and K. According to the Texas Department of Agriculture, more than 60 commercial fruit and vegetable crops are grown in the Lone Star State- from apples to zucchini and everything in between.  The Texas Red Grapefruit is the official state fruit and the sweet onion is the official vegetable.

            Blackberries may not be the state’s official fruit, but this summer is a prime time to pick fresh berries. Berries are the crown jewels of summer, the gems that inspire pies, parfaits, cobblers, ice cream treats, and whipped cream wonders. Best of all, berries deliver super-healthy antioxidants that help fight disease.  I hope you try out the following recipe, courtesy of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s, Dinner Tonight - Taste of Texas showcase.

Blackberry Chili Chicken

Blackberries are not just for desserts.  This savory recipe is perfect for chicken or try it on pork tenderloin.


Chili-Black Berry Sauce

Chicken Breasts
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place tenderloins on a baking sheet and sprinkle 2 teaspoons of olive oil, salt and pepper on chicken. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until internal temperature has reached 165 degrees F.
  2. While chicken is cooking in the oven, heat a 3 quart saucepan on medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and the diced shallots. Sauté for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add blackberries, chipotle pepper, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove sauce from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve the sauce over the chicken and top with mint leaves
Servings per 3 oz serving: 4
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Fall Armyworms Are Here

We have had an outbreak of armyworms across the county this past week.  You need to be scouting fields immediately.  The following will guide you through the process.  

The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, is a common pest of bermudagrass, sorghum, corn, wheat and rye grass and many other crops in north and central Texas. Larvae of fall armyworms are green, brown or black with white to yellowish lines running from head to tail. A distinct white line between the eyes forms an inverted Y pattern on the face. Four black spots aligned in a square on the top of the segment near the back end of the caterpillar are also characteristic of fall armyworm. Armyworms are very small (1/8 inch) at first, cause little plant damage and as a result infestations often go unnoticed. Larvae feed for 2-3 weeks and full grown larvae are about 1 to 1 1/2 inches long. Given their immense appetite, great numbers, and marching ability, fall armyworms can damage entire fields or pastures in a few days.

Once the armyworm larva completes feeding, it tunnels into the soil to a depth of about an inch and enters the pupal stage. The armyworm moth emerges from the pupa in about ten days and repeats the life cycle. The fall armyworm moth has a wingspan of about 1 1/2 inches. The front pair of wings is dark gray with an irregular pattern of light and dark areas. Moths are active at night when they feed on nectar and deposit egg masses. A single female can deposit up to 2000 eggs and there are four to five generations per year. The fall armyworm apparently does not overwinter in north Texas, but survives the winter in south Texas. Populations increase in south Texas in early spring and successive generations move northward as the season progresses.

Management. Fall armyworm outbreaks in pastures and hay fields often occur following a rain which apparently creates favorable conditions for eggs and small larvae to survive in
large numbers. Hay fields with a dense canopy and vigorous plant growth are often more susceptible to armyworm infestations than less intensely fertilized and managed fields. Irrigated fields are also susceptible to fall armyworm infestations, especially during drought conditions. Also monitor volunteer wheat and weedy grasses in ditches and around fields which may be a source of armyworms that can move into the adjacent crop.

Look for fall armyworm larvae feeding in the crop canopy during the late evening and early morning and during cool, cloudy weather. During hot days, look for armyworms low in the canopy or even on the soil surface where they hide under loose soil and fallen leaves. A sweep net is very effective for sampling hay fields for fall armyworms. When fields are wet with dew, armyworms can stick on rubber boots worn while walking through the field. Small
larvae chew the green layer from the leaves and leave a clearing or “window paneeffect and
later notch the edges of leaves.

The key to managing fall armyworms is frequent inspection of fields to detect fall armyworm infestations before they have caused economic damage.  Once larvae are greater than ¾  inch long, the quantity of foliage they eat increases dramatically. During their final 2-3 days of feeding, armyworms consume 80% of the total foliage consumed during their entire development.

The density of armyworms sufficient to justify insecticide treatment depends on the stage of crop growth and value of the crop. Seedling plants can tolerate fewer armyworms than established plants. Infestations of more than 2-3 armyworms (1/2 inch or longer) per square foot may justify an insecticide application. If practical, apply insecticides early in the morning or late in the evening when armyworm larvae are most active and therefor most likely to come into contact with the insecticide spray. If the field is near harvest, an early harvest, rather than an insecticide treatment, is an option.

Parasitic wasps and flies, ground beetles, and insect viruses help suppress armyworm
numbers. However, these natural enemies can be overwhelmed when large numbers of migrating moths move into an area and weather conditions favor high survival of eggs and larvae.

A list of labeled insecticides for Armyworm Control in Pastures and Hayfields are  Karate Z, Lambda- Cy, Mustang Max, Tombsotne Helios, Warrior II, Baythroid XL, Dimilin 2L, Prevathon, Besiege, Sevin 4F, Sevin XLR, Sevin 80S, Generic Carbaryl, Malathion, Intrepid 2F and Tracer.  For detailed information on each of the herbicides you can contact the office.  Always read and follow all label instructions on pesticide use and restrictions. Information below is provided for educational purposes only. Read current label before use.