Monday, November 6, 2017

Invasive Grass of Concern


The folk at the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services asked us to spread the word about this noxious weed. The weed scientists at NCDA&CS are very concerned about Cogongrass entering our mountain ecosystem.

If you suspect that you have found an infestation please contact the NCDA Weed Specialist Bridget Lassiter at (919) 707-3749.

This is an interesting grass as one form was sold as an ornamental grass back in the early '90s under the name Japanese Bloodgrass  Imperata cylindrica " Red Baron".   Some of you may have been misinformed as I was,  and used it in landscapes or sold it in your garden centers, with the impression that it was a sterile form of the species.  I seem to recall that it did not appear to overwinter very well here in the mountains- but then some of those winters were colder than we have experienced lately.   Unfortunately,  in some climatic conditions it becomes a noxious weed.  

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.

Monday, September 25, 2017

NC Landscape Contractor License Exam Training

 NC Landscape Contractor Licensing Exam Training and CEU Classes

Are you looking to become a licensed NC Landscape Contractor?  If so we are holding a 2 day school with 4 separate half day classes to prepare you to take the exam.  If you plan to take the exam on the 3rd Friday of November (11/17)  you will need all of your applications materials in and the Surety Bond approved prior to October 17th to take the exam at this location in November.  These documents must be in 30 days prior to taking the exam regardless of where you choose to take the exams.

For more information and registration visit:

Review Course

Need NC Landscape Contractor CEUs?

These classes were also pre-approved for Continuing Education Credits for existing licensed landscape contractors.  The first three are opportunities to get 3 hours each for Technical Credit (L) and the last of the series will get you 3 hours of Business credit.  You do not need to take all 4 classes to get the credits but you must attend the entire 3.5 hours in each specific class.  As indicated the classes are $30.00 each or the entire course is $100.00

Please note: The fees above are for the training only and do not cover the costs associated with the application and exam fees for those taking the exams.  You must contact the NC Landscape Contractor's Licensing Board to file the application and pay those fees!   We are two separate organizations!! 

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.

Commercial Pesticide School

Commercial Pesticide School

Announcing: The NC State University and NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. will be offering the annual fall Commercial Pesticide School and Exam 

Date: October 11-12, 2017
Location: MILLS RIVER, NC -
Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center
Commercial Pesticide Schools are held to assist green industry professionals with obtaining their Commercial Pesticide License by offering pre-exam classes. All attendees should have already obtained their study materials and be familiar with the information before attending. Exams will be given on the second day of the school.

To obtain a Commercial Pesticide License in North Carolina, pesticide applicators must study for and take an exam in the Pesticide Applicator Core category as well an exam in their chosen specific applicator category.
Our Pesticide School offers Pesticide Applicator Core training on the first day and specific sub-category training on the second day in these categories:
-Ornamentals and Turf
-Right of Way
- *special this one time - Aquatics*

Classes start at 8:30 a.m. and are over by 4:00 p.m on the 11th and from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 on the 12th 
Exception-  The Aquatics class will be from 4:00-6:00 p.m. on the 11th after the Core Class

All pesticide exams are given on the second day at 1:00 p.m. 

***special note -  We are holding the seldom offered pre-exam study class for the Aquatic Pesticide Applicator exam. This will be offered after 4:00 p.m on day one of the training October 11th. If you need to take the Core Exam you should already be in the Core training that takes place that day from 8:30-4:00.  Contact Andrea Crozier at to  request an additional seat in the Aquatics Class.

**Fees for Pesticide Schools are different from NCDA&CS Pesticide exam fees. Exam fees should be paid at the pesticide school or exam location. 

**Go here to register for school:

To learn more about pesticide licensing visit:

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

7th Annual Horticulture Industry Symposium

Horticulture Industry Symposium 2017

Hard to believe that is is August already and the precise middle of summer.  The registration and information is already up for this year's Horticulture Industry Symposium.  Please consider attending this year.  We have a lot of different speakers and interesting content.  The program continues to grow.  For more information visit these sites from The NC Arboretum:  2017 IPM Symposium

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Fire Ants Expanding their Territory

Fire Ants are Expanding their Territory 

Fire Ants are expanding their territory in NC and additional counties or portions of counties are now under quarantine.  Essentially, for the green industry this means that certain products (nursery crops, pine needles, hay, straw, etc) can't be move out of those counties without being properly treated.  For more information read the link attached above. 

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Cicadas are Impacting Trees in WNC

Cicadas are Impacting Trees in WNC

If you or your clients are noticing dead twigs on forest or landscape trees, chances are that it is the result of Periodical Cicadas.  The female gender of these insects cuts slits in the twigs of various species of trees and lays her eggs.  The result is the death of these twigs which turn brown and ultimately fall off of the tree.  As this has already occurred there's little that you can do to prevent of control the problem, however pruning out the damaged twigs and destroying them may reduce the population for future outbreaks.  Check out the attached article on Periodical Cicadas:

Periodical Cicada

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Post Drought Stress Symptoms

Post Drought Stress Symptoms

Although we are getting what appears to be adequate rainfall now, we are still seeing symptoms of drought stress or "post drought stress".    These symptoms may vary from wilting and slow growth to smaller than normal leaves and entire canopy death.   While some of these symptoms may have occurred last summer and into the fall there seems to be a continued showing of cracked trunks and branches with die back occurring on trees and shrubs now even though we are getting good rainfall.

Most of these problems relate back to a failure to water the plants adequately through an entire establishment period.  Trees, particularly those that are field grown and sold balled and burlapped are particularly susceptible due to the amount of root loss that they encountered when harvested.  Typically, a tree takes one year per caliper inch to get re-established so a 2 inch caliper tree will take 2 years of careful monitoring and extra care to see that the root ball doesn't dry out to reduce the potential for drought stress.  Some plants, such as Leyland Cypress and many flood plain species are drought sensitive and may require extra care to keep them from drying out.   Here are a couple of samples from a Sweetgum tree that was planted just before the drought of 2016 and is showing drought stress this spring:
   Note the cracking in the main trunk!↘

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Job Opening

Job Opening
The following is a job opening that some of you might find of interest:

Trademark Homescapes Inc., a successful landscaping company providing landscaping, custom wood working, gardening and water features is seeking an experienced landscape crew member to fill a full time position. Pay is dependent upon experience.
Qualifications include: (must possess at least 3 of the listed qualifications) Nursery Background
Skilled Carpentry Experience
Masonry and Hardscape Experience

Track Hoe/Skid Steer Experience
Certified Plant Professional
Plant and Irrigation Installation Experience Associate/Bachelor Degree in Horticulture or similar
Must have a valid North Carolina Driver’s License. Accepting Resumes through June 1st
Send resumes to: 

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

New Worker Protection Standards Coming into Effect on Jan 2nd

New Worker Protection Standards Going into Effect on Jan 2nd

It's December 1st and I want to make you aware of some new laws that will be going into effect on January 2nd.  If you use and apply pesticides you need to be aware of these standards as they will be enforced.  I have included the link below to give you guidance as to these new standards:
New WPS .
Also to compare the old standards with the new visit this document:

Some highlight of the new standards:

1. Annual training of all workers and handles associated in and around pesticide use.

2. Training of worker and handlers immediately upon hiring and prior to their being exposed to areas where pesticides are being used.

3. Expanded training requirements.

4. Records of training must be kept for at least 2 years.

5.  Fit test requirements for individuals using respirators.

Note on the latter.-  We are in the process of hosting a clinic for applicators that need to be fit tested. If you or your employees use respirators then they will need to be fit test to insure that the equipment they use actually works and that they are healthy enough to use a respirator.  The date has not been confirmed but tentatively it will be sometime in March.  If you have a need to get a fit test earlier contact the folk at Mission Hospitals- OccuMed for an appointment. (828) 213-0878.

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Smoke- Respirator Use

Working in Smokey Conditions

There has been some concern about breathing during these times with smokey conditions prevalent over most of our area.  The link here:  Respirator for use during smokey conditions  takes you to a pdf that will describe the proper minimum respirator for use by individuals working outside in smokey areas.  Keep in mind this does not apply to areas close to the actual fires or where there are large particulates of ashes in the air.  Additional protection may be required. 

Also as indicate in the article you should contact your medical doctor before wearing any respirator. One note is that starting in January if you use a respirator as part of your work- applying pesticides, dusts, fertilizers, etc or working in other conditions that would require respiratory protection;  you will need to have the respirator test fitted for your face and conditions.  There are various health issues that will preclude your use of typical respirators.  Beards and other facial hair may also make wearing a respirator difficult due to the inability to properly get a seal to eliminate air movement around the perimeter of the respirator.   

Our recommendation is that if you or your employees have health issues or encounter breathing difficulties working in conditions where the air quality is compromised; that you cease working in those areas and go inside until the conditions subside.  If you can access proper respiratory protection devices then use them on a limited basis with reductions in the time you spend outside.   Be sure that you know the life span of the respirator that you will be using.  Once the device or filter cartridges are exposed to the air (particularly polluted air)  they begin to age. As the filter gets full of particulates the functional use of the device declines and will need to be replaced.    

If you or someone on your staff has known health issues it would be well advised that they be assigned to working in a structure with filter air.  Nothing that you have planned to do over the next few weeks are more important than the health and well being of you or your staff.     

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.