Friday, November 22, 2013

Medicinal Herb Grower Education Workshop

Medicinal Herb Grower Education Workshop: Harvesting, Washing, Drying, & Packaging
December 14, 2013
9 am to 4 pm
Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center
455 Research Drive, Mills River, NC 28759
In collaboration with the buyers from Gaia Herbs, Red Moon Herbs, and Strategic Sourcing, we are hosting a workshop to address a problem that we see many herb farmers face: proper post-harvest handling (washing, drying, cutting/sifting, packaging, and labeling). Many sales are lost because well-grown medicinal herbs are not properly washed, dried, or packaged. This workshop will be led by three local medicinal herb buyers and Jeanine Davis and her staff at NC State University who have been conducting research on growing medicinal herbs and educating herb growers for over 25 years.
The agenda is flexible and intended to encourage as much discussion as possible. Bring all your questions, such as: Why did your herbs get moldy after drying? Why did a buyer reject the roots you tried to sell? Why are you spending half a day washing the harvest of one herb? We will also discuss GAPs, cGMPs, and how FSMA may affect your medicinal herb business. (If you don’t know what those acronyms stand for, you really need to be there!) Please bring samples and pictures to share, stories of success, and what challenges you face.
Pre-registration is $20 which includes lunch (plus a $2.09 Eventbrite fee). Registration at the door is $30 and lunch is not guaranteed. The event will be held at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River, NC. There are limited spaces available so please register early at our Eventbrite page. 
If you are interested in sponsoring this event or having an exhibit table, please contact Alison Dressler at or call828-684-3562 x150.
9:00    Registration and coffee
9:30    Welcome and state goals for the day
10:00   Harvesting and Washing
12:00   Lunch
1:00    Drying and Packaging
3:00    Discussion and sharing of experiences and challenges

Visit medicinal herb-grower education for more information

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

Rural Tax Education


Not many things make growers' blood boil as much as the word:  Taxes.  However, one thing to know is if you have to pay them it means that you are making money or have a lousy accountant.  A relatively new website with contributors from several land grant university has been rolled out which provides a lot of good educational information about dealing with income taxes.  Please visit this site at:

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Emerald Ash Borer - Informational Video

Emerald Ash Borer

The pest that we thought would not come to NC has arrived.  Emerald Ash Borers have been found in a few of the counties along the Virginia borer and NCDA&CS/NCFS have quarantined these areas to help reduce the chance of their movement into other areas of the state.   The link below will provide you with an informational video regarding this pest:

The following article describes what the NC Forest Service is doing to keep the Emerald Ash Borer from moving.

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

Friday, October 18, 2013

Irrigation Contractor Programs

Irrigation Contractor Programs Coming Up!

For those of you needing Irrigation Contractor CEUs  there are two exciting programs coming up real soon.  Be sure to plan on attending one or both of them.  

The first is on November 6th at Southeastern Natives Nursery in Candler for more information about that workshop visit the Carolina Irrigation Association's web site at: 

The second will be at the Mountain Horticulture Crops Research and Extension Center on December 3rd.  Be sure to get in this class as it will be the last chance to get those credits in WNC.  The registration information is also at: 

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

VanWingerden International, Inc. Open House

Have you ever wanted a peek at the inside of a LARGE commercial greenhouse opperation??? Well now is your chance...
The VanWingerden International, Inc. 22nd Annual Open House is happening on November 9th from 10am - 3pm at 4055 Haywood Rd, Mills River, NC... Tour the greenhouses and enjoy the acres of poinsettias while learning about the environmentally friendly growing practices! Bring your walking shoes!  Questions, please call (828) 891-4116. 

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

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Making Donations to Extension Programs

Donating to Extension Programs

Often times we have folk that want to make an extra contribution to our programs in Cooperative Extension or donate money in honor or memory of some one and have those funds assist with the delivery of various programs that we offer.    Fortunately, there is an on-line way of doing just that.  The following link will take you to a page that will guide you through that process:

The Green Team, (involved in posting and keeping this blog up-to date and holding the various educational programs to assist with offering the Continuing Education Credits, locally),  has an enhancement account that we ultimately use to expand our programs and develop new programs to keep the Green Industry current and proactive.   If you or someone you know wishes to make a contribution or donation to help with those efforts please enter: West District Commercial Horticulture 'Green Team' Enh Fund in the initial blank provided.  As you begin to enter information in the blank the system will prompt you and you'll see the entire title come up in this blank so you will not have to enter all of the information   If you are interested in seeing other funds that you can contribute to just click on Find Fund.

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

Green Team Quarterly

The fall edition of the Green Team Quarterly has been posted: enjoy!

Be sure to register for the up-coming symposium.
For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Proper Operation and Safety of Irrigation Equipment

Irrigation Workshop

Wednesday November 6, 2013

Southeastern Natives Nursery
36 Kel Co Road
Candler, NC  28715

Lunch from 11:30-12:00 (generously provided by Toro and STI)
2 CEU class from 12:00-2:00

Course Title:  Proper Operation and Safety of Irrigation Equipment
Course Number:  10136
This class will be outdoors and will be a hands-on class.  Please dress appropriately for weather and outdoor conditions. 

Sponsors:  Carolina’s Irrigation Association, Smith Turf Irrigation, Toro Equipment, NC Cooperative Extension Agency, and Southeastern Natives Nursery

There will be no fee for this class. 

If you have any questions, feel free to call Kevin McCrae at Office: 828-633-0536  or on his Cell Phone 828-273-6736

This is a great opportunity to get a couple hours of irrigation credits; network with colleagues in the industry;  and visit one of the area's premier native plant nurseries all in the same day.  Hope to see you there!

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

Monday, September 9, 2013

Horticulture Industry IPM Symposium

The third annual Horticulture Industry IPM Symposium is just two weeks away and we have a few more seats left.  These seats will go fast so get your reservation in soon in order to avoid missing the exciting program this year.  Yes there are pesticide credits for folk from both Carolinas as well as Tennessee so this is an extra drawing card.   The information alone is worth more than the price you will pay for the classes.  
For more information and to register click on the following link:

Come spend the day with us at the NC Arboretum; one of the area's most attractive places to attend a symposium!

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

Friday, September 6, 2013

Polk County Farms Classes Offered

Here's a listing of classes some of you may find interesting:

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

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bio-Energy Field Day

Event:         Western North Carolina Bioenergy Field Day
Date:         September 4th 2013
Time:         12:30 Registration, 1:00-5:00 Educational Presentations and Demonstrations
Contact:      Ron Gehl, ron_gehl@ncsu.edu828-684-3562 x129

North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services invite you to attend this event designed to provide a time for researchers to share the latest information of the work being conducted on energy crops in Western NC.  Tours of research plots and processing equipment demonstrations will help growers, researchers, and private industry interests learn how we are working to meet the state’s renewable fuels and energy goals of the future.  The afternoon event will cover topics including the science of cellulosic fuel production, production of energy grasses, cultural management of bioenergy crops, high-oil crops and biodiesel production, sorghum production for biofuels, breeding efforts  and genetic improvements of biomass crops. Speakers include NC State University researchers in Soil Science, Horticultural Science, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and Forestry and Environmental Resources, and biofuel industry representatives.  Field demonstrations will include small-scale gasification, oilseed crushing and biodiesel production, and sorghum harvest, squeezing, and distillation.  The field day is free and open to the public.  For more information, please visit or contact Ron Gehl at of 828-684-3562 x129.

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

Monday, August 19, 2013

Soil Testing Fees

Soil Testing 

Getting you soil tested now to determine what nutrients are required for next year's growing cycle is a good thing.  The labs in Raleigh tend to back up during the winter and early spring and there may be delays in getting your results on time.  Knowing what you need this fall will help with developing your budgets and planning for the spring.  

Here's another good reason to take and send in soil samples:

color logo 300.tifNCDA&CS Agronomic Division
Peak-season Soil Testing Fee
August 1, 2013

The Appropriations Act of 2013 contains a provision to implement a new soil-testing fee.  Pending final approval by the Board of Agriculture, a $4 fee will be charged for all soil samples processed by the NCDA&CS Agronomic Division during its busiest season: December through March. There will still be no fee from April through November.
v  To improve lab efficiency by encouraging more growers to sample early, thereby fostering a more balanced sample load throughout the year
v  To enhance sustainability of the soil-testing program by generating receipts that will be earmarked for lab improvements, such as automated equipment, additional peak-season personnel and computer-programming enhancements  [The 2013 Appropriations Act ensures that receipts generated by the new fee will be appropriated to NCDA&CS for this purpose for FY 2014 and 2015.]
NOTE:  This year, December 1st falls on a Sunday and is preceded by the Thanksgiving holidays. Wednesday, November 27th, will be the last business day of the month for the soil testing lab. Any soil samples arriving after 6 p.m. on November 27th will be subject to the peak-season fee because they will not be logged in and processed until December 2nd.
Sample drop offs must take place during business hours (6 a.m.–6 p.m., Mon.–Fri.). A locked gate will prevent access to the loading dock area after hours and on weekends. This change will help increase the security of samples and improve customers’ access to Agronomic Division personnel.
Payment should not be placed inside shippers. By late Fall 2013, clients will have the convenience of entering sample and payment (credit card or escrow account) information online in the PALS website.  Cash and checks will be accepted for peak-season samples only if deposited in advance in an escrow account. 
v  The Agronomic Division provides a quality soil-testing service that includes comprehensive chemical soil analyses, site-specific lime and fertilizer recommendations and access to the consulting services of NCDA&CS agronomists.
v  It costs NCDA&CS approximately $3.22 to analyze one sample (based on average expenses 2008–2012), of which about $1 is covered by receipts from the state fertilizer inspection fee and lime tonnage tax.
v  For a typical 8-acre field in eastern North Carolina, we estimate that the peak-season fee will cost between $4 and $16, depending upon the intensity of the sampling protocol.
v  Most North Carolina growers submit fewer than 50 samples per year according to 2010 data.
v  Of the approximately 350,000 samples typically received each year, nearly 60 percent are analyzed from December through March, with turnaround times of up to 9 weeks.
v  The vast majority of soil samples analyzed during the winter months are from farms in preparation for spring planting. Most of these samples can be collected and submitted well before December 1st, thus avoiding the fee. Nearly all soil samples associated with home & garden and landscaping projects can be collected and submitted from April through November.

v  Clients who desire expedited service during the peak season can purchase NCDA&CS expedited shippers to receive a guaranteed turnaround time of ten business days. A limited number of shippers are sold each year (usually in August or September). The anticipated 2013–14 price for a 36-sample shipper is $200. 

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

Pest News for Week of August 19th

Ornamentals and Turf

From Dr. Steve Frank

Azalea Caterpillars

Azalea caterpillars, Datana major, are among our most attractive caterpillar species. The feed primarily on Rhododendron spp., but this week we also found them on blueberries. They are most evident late in the summer. There is one generation of this pest each year. Adults lay eggs on the underside of azalea leaves where the small caterpillars feed gregariously. As they grow the caterpillars take on the coloration as seen in the adjacent picture. Unfortunately, by the time they are noticed azalea caterpillars can consume a lot of foliage and defoliate a shrub. Scout for these caterpillars by scanning shrubs for bare twigs then look closer to investigate. If you find a group of them just prune the branch out. In larger infestations or nurseries there are several insecticides active on caterpillars, but any product works best on small stages.

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

Monday, August 5, 2013

Pesticide Credit Opportunities

Pesticide Credit Opportunities 

Have you waited until the end of the summer to get all of your pesticide credits?  Now your credits are scheduled to expire by the end of September. What do you need  to do?  Below are some opportunities that you should consider:

Pesticide Safety Training Sessions (Category V) 

September 10th 2013. 1:00-3:00 P.M.   WNC Regional Livestock Center, 474 Stock Drive, Canton NC.
(I-40 Exit 33- Newfound Rd) Call (828)255-5522 to register for this class

September, 12th 2013.  7:00-9:00 P.M.  Henderson County Extension Center,  100 Jackson Park Rd. Hendersonville, NC    (828) 697-4891

September 12th, 2013.  5:30-7:30 P.M.  Madison County Extension Center, 258 Carolina Lane, Marshall NC.   (828) 649-2411

Pesticide  (Category X)  or Commercial Credit Classes:

August 8th,  Tomato and Vegetable Field Day,  12:30- 4:30 P.M.,  Mountain Horticulture Crops Research and Extension Center,  Mills River, NC

August 28th,  IPM for Green Industry Professionals- ( Invasive Weed Identification and Control,)  2:00- 4:30 P.M.  Mountain Horticulture Crops Research and Extension Center,  455 Research Drive, Mills River,  NC,   Approved for credits in  L, G, D, H, N, O,  and X

August 29th,  Weed Identification & Control in Cool Season Turfgrass, 2:00-4:00  Henderson County Extension Center,  100 Jackson Park Rd. Hendersonville, NC    (828) 697-4891,  Approved for credits in L,D, N, and X

September, 10th,   Pesticide Labels and Storage,  9:30-11:30 A.M. WNC Regional Livestock Center,  474 Stock Drive, Canton NC. (I-40 Exit 33- Newfound Rd)  Call (828)255-5522 to register for this class

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

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Pest News for Week of August 5th


From: Steve Frank, Extension Entomologist

Japanese Maple Scale in the Nursery and Landscape

Japanese maple scale, Lopholeucaspis japonica, is active now and much of the summer. It is a small, oystershell-shaped, armored scale introduced to the U.S. from Asia. Japanese maple scale is found in several eastern U.S. states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia, as well as Washington D.C. Japanese maple scale has a wide host range that in addition to maples (e.g.,  Japanese maples, red maples, paperbark maples and sugar maples), includes Amelanchier, Camellia, Carpinus, Cercis, Cladrastis, Cornus, Cotoneaster, Euonymus, Fraxinus, Gledistia, Ilex, Itea, Ligustrum, Magnolia, Malus, Prunus, Pyracantha, Pyrus, Salix, Stewartia, Styrax, Syringa, Tilia, Ulmus, Zelkova 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 emergence 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 by Paula Shrewsbury and Stanton Gill at the University of Maryland. There is also information on Japanese maple scales and other maple pests in our new book:

Oleander Aphids

Anyone who has grown or looked at milkweed has seen oleander aphids. They are orange and usually very abundant. Sometimes oleander aphids become so abundant they reduce plant growth and flowering, but most of the time they are not very harmful. Since they are inevitable you might as well enjoy them. The most enjoyable and interesting thing about these aphids is that you can witness all kinds of ecological interactions. Inspecting a colony of these aphids you will see parasitoids and their mummies; predacious maggots of hoverflies that specialize on aphids; predacious maggots of Aphidoletes midges that bite aphid knees, inject paralytic toxins, then eat the aphids. Many other generalist predators such as green lacewing larvae, lady beetles, and minute pirate bugs also hang around. These are great plants to have in public gardens because you can always teach people about these predators and parasitoids. 

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

Friday, August 2, 2013

Weed Identification & Control - Pesticide Class

Thursday, August 29th from 2-4 p.m. @ Henderson County Cooperative Extension Office

Category X training for farmers needing credit for private applicators certification and for dealers and commercial applicators needing credit for L, N, or D classification. It is also provided for others who would like to learn more about Weed Identification and Control in Cool Season Turfgrass. There is a materials fee of $5 payable at the door. Please call the Henderson County Cooperative Extension office at 697-4891 or e-mail to register. This class will be taught by Kerrie Roach, Henderson County horticulture extension agent. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

USDA-FSA Holds Sign Up for Farmland Damaged by Flood and Excessive Rain

News Release from USDA

The following news release has come from Buncombe County FSA offices:  News Release from USDA
If you are located in another county you should call your local FSA office to determine if similar funds are available.

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

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Pest Alert for Week of July 29th


From: Steve Frank, Extension Entomologist

Debris-carrying Green Lacewing Larvae are Active and Everywhere!

Green lacewing larvae are common predators of several soft-bodied pest arthropods across the United States. Their prey includes but is not limited to: scale insects, spider mites, aphids, thrips, and eggs of pest insects. They are useful in biological control because of their generalist and voracious feeding habits. Lacewing larvae are often compared to alligators due to their elongate, slender body shape and are typically yellow and brown in color with six legs. These larvae have large pincer mouthparts that they use to penetrate bodies of prey, paralyze them, and literally suck out their insides. They use these mouthparts to devour several hundred prey per week. Lacewings are known to be cannibalistic if they cannot find any other food source. This is one reason that they deposit their eggs individually on long hairs that suspend them above the leaf surface out of reach. These eggs are common and can be easily found on leaf surfaces. 

Some, but not all green lacewing larvae, develop a camouflage cover which hides them from predation by other insects. These are called debris-carrying lacewing larvae because they pick up plant tissue debris and other insect debris and attach it to their back. This camouflage makes them difficult to recognize by natural enemies and the inexperienced human eye. Often times they will appear to be a cluster of tree lichen until you notice small legs underneath or it start to move. They can currently be found on most plants just by scanning leaf surfaces. I have seen several recently without looking for them. These insects remain larvae for two to four weeks at which point they develop into winged green lacewing adults. Adult lacewings are not predators and primarily feed on plant nectar. The adults are commonly attracted to lights at night and can often be found around your home.

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

Monday, July 22, 2013

IR 4 Survey

Please consider going to the attached link to fill our a national survey regarding to pest management strategies and needs:


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

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pest News for Week of July 22nd


From: Steve Frank, Extension Entomologist

Mimosa Webworms

In Raleigh we are seeing the initial webbing created by mimosa webworms. These are annual pests of mimosa trees which many people including me consider pests in their own right. However, if you are one of the many folks who love mimosa trees sans messy caterpillar webbing then it is time for action. The best way to prevent heavy infestations and extensive webbing is to prune out the nest when they are small (now). Moths overwinter as adults so reducing the abundance of caterpillars in your tree could help reduce infestations next year. Most insecticides available for caterpillar control will also control mimosa webworm, but remember that contact is difficult since they live in water proof bags so rely on stomach poisons for best control.

More information on caterpillars can be found at:


From: Mike Waldvogel, Extension Entomology

Mosquito-borne Diseases

On July 4, I sent an e-mail about the rains increasing some pest problems. Some problems are nuisance pests (such as millipedes), but others such as mosquitoes pose a greater problem particularly with the possibility of diseases such as  Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), LaCrosse Encephalitis, and West Nile Virus. As I suggested in that e-mail, it would be prudent for horse owners to get their animals vaccinated.    

Some of you may have already seen yesterday's reports that Brunswick County had its first confirmed equine fatality from EEE ( 

Despite the name, the disease affects not just horses but people as well. Unlike some other disease-causing viruses of medical importance, you can't get EEE from contact with an infected person or horse.  Mosquitoes become infected when they bite an infected bird and those mosquito species then feed on other birds thus increasing the reservoir of virus in the bird population during the course of the summer. Other mosquito species that bite these same birds act as "bridges" by dining again on horses or people who now become infected.  
Children and the elderly are the biggest concern and so we need to urge our clients to take appropriate protective measures and use insect repellents (see We still recommend the usual measures of emptying rain-filled containers and other objects as well as unclogging gutters, drainage ditches, etc. However, mosquitoes that can transmit EEE will also breed in floodwaters and salt marshes and for that reason personal protection is critical. Many of these mosquitoes are active at dawn and dusk and so altering are activity times can help (but are not a guarantee against mosquito bites). Again, we also urge horse owners to consult with the veterinarian about vaccinating their animals against these mosquito-borne diseases.

I would also add that people with dogs that spend a great deal of time outdoors need to make sure they are keeping up their pet's monthly heartworm medications since some of the same mosquito species that are increasing in numbers can also transmit dog heartworm.  

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

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pest News for Week of July 15th


From: Steve Frank, Extension Entomologist

News About Neonicotinoid Insecticides

Neonicotinoids include products such as imidacloprid (Merit, Marathon, various homeowner products made by Bayer), dinotefuran (Safari), acetamiprid (TriStar), and thiamethoxam (Flagship). All the chemicals in this group are systemic and move to plant issue once applied. This includes nectar and pollen. These products have been under scrutiny lately due to their negative effects on pollinators. See this report:

Recently there was a large bee kill in Oregon apparently due to misapplication of a neonicotinoid to a flowering linden tree. Labels typically state “Do not apply to flowering plants or when pollinators are present” or something similar. In response the Oregon Department of Agriculture has temporarily restricted use of dinotefuran while it investigates the incident. More information about this incident is in a recent article:

It is important to correctly use all insecticides by professionals and homeowners.

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

Monday, July 15, 2013

Impatiens Downey Mildew Update

The information I pasted below is an excerpt from an online newsletter called ‘Acres Online’, put out by Ball Publishing. If you are interested in receiving the full copy for yourself go to

Downy Mildew update: Spring 2013

Despite being known in the U.S. since the late 1800s, impatiens downy mildew (IDM) didn’t rear its ugly head in landscape plantings until a couple seasons ago. And in 2012 it was devastating in pockets of the country. So how has the 2013 season been when it comes to our beloved impatiens?

First, IDM did impact production numbers. Best as I can gather from my contacts, wholesale seed and plug sales were down around 30% from 2012.

As for the disease itself, I checked with Ball’s plant pathologist Colleen Warfield for a landscape update. According to Colleen, the disease is still active in Florida, confirmed in Hawaii, and it’s been found recently in San Diego County. However, in the Eastern U.S., there has only been one confirmed report of IDM on I. walleriana in the landscape, and that was in late May. And there is an unofficial report from an Internet blogger who just found it in her Ohio garden. But so far, there are no other confirmed reports on regular impatiens. However, there have been a couple of reports of IDM on I. balsamina, a naturalized plant better known as spotted snapweed or garden balsam. That’s bad news, since we now know of a second host plant.

For the very latest update, Colleen and Margery Daughtrey will be presenting “Impatiens Downy Mildew—Are We Any Closer to Control?” at the Short Course on Saturday, July 12 from 10:45 to noon in room E170. Be there!

Is it in your area? Remember, just because your impatiens have some yellow leaves doesn’t mean it’s IDM. Look for the presence of white sporulation (down) on the underside of the foliage. If you think you’ve seen it in your landscape, let Colleen know at

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

New Research on Boxwood Blight

Boxwood Blight

Research continues to go on by our various researchers across the US.  Miranda Ganci, one of our graduate students, working with Dr. Kelly Ivors has released some interesting information about this disease about some of the partially resistant cultivars of  varieous Buxus sps.  For more information and to read the most current  research document please visit this link:  Boxwood Blight

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

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pest News for Week of June 24th


From: Steve Frank, Extension Entomologist

Japanese Beetles Adults

I have a couple reports from around North Carolina and even reports that they are emerging in Maryland. So I guess they are trickling out, but populations seem to have gotten lower and lower in the past several years. For three years in a row we have had severe droughts during the time Japanese beetles are ovipositing. They need moist soil so their eggs do not dehydrate and so tiny young larvae can borrow into the soil. Droughts have restricted successful reproduction to only well irrigated areas. 

So keep an eye out and remember a few key things. Japanese beetle traps do not offer any protection to landscape plants and may actually attract more beetles on to your property so hang them in your neighbor’s yard. Likewise, treating a lawn for Japanese beetles grubs will not reduce defoliation of plants on that property since beetles fly in from great distances. Long-term protection for landscape and nursery plants can be achieved a neonicotinoid insecticide such as imidacloprid (e.g., Merit, Marathon II) or acetamiprid (Tri-Star). A new product with extremely low vertebrate toxicity, but good efficacy for a number of pests including Japanese beetles is Acelepryn (chlorantraniliprole). For more information on the biology and management of adult Japanese beetles in nurseries and landscapes consult the insect note

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

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Japanese Beetles are Active Now!

Japanese Beetles Active

In scouting a streambank area this morning, I noticed that many of the wildflowers were covered with Japanese Beetles and some nearly defoliated.   While I would not say that we are having an early peak in the population of these pest, it is clear that they are very active and pest management efforts should be in place immediately for the adult control.
Turfgrass Managers on Sod Farms, Athletic Fields, Golf Courses, and Lawns should be on the alert and plan to apply a grub control  by the first of July.  These adult insects are currently laying eggs and those eggs will be hatching in 10-14 days.  The wet weather and lush grass will be create ideal conditions for the young grubs.  For more information on this pest please read the following publications:

Japanese Beetle Information

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

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pest News for Week of June 17th


From: Steve Frank, Extension Entomologist

Fungus Gnat Larvae

This week we had reports of fungus gnats forming long lines on sidewalks and driveways. This happens after a lot of rain or heavy irrigation. In the landscape larvae feed on plant roots and live in areas with a lot of thatch or organic matter. You can read more and see a picture of the larvae-snake in an insect note at

Tea Scale Crawlers are Active

Tea scale, Fiorinia theae, is common on camellias. It is an armored scale that lives on the underside of leaves. You can find it on almost any camellia by looking for inner leaves that have yellow spots on top. When you turn it over you will see tan canoe-shaped scale covers and some white fluff from the males. These are tough to treat because the heaviest infestations are often deep within the foliage of large bushes. To find an insect note with more information and recommendations:

Cottony Cushion Scale Activity

Cottony cushion scale, Icerya purchasi, is active much of the year. This week I found young crawlers that were being aggressively tended by fire ants on cherry laurel. The scale is most easily recognized by its oblong cottony ovisac that can reach 1 cm or longer. The rest of its lifecycle is less conspicuous though it is still one of the larger scales. Like other cottony scales, such as cottony maple scale and cottony camellia scale, cottony cushion scale is a soft scale. In the coming weeks the scale will be most easily managed as crawlers are active and exposed. Horticultural oil can be used to smother crawlers on small plants. A systemic drench can be used to treat larger plants and provide longer protection. The host list for this species is long and varied including: maple, boxwood, pecan, cedar, citrus, apple, Prunus spp., rose, and others. This week I found ovisacs on Euonymus, Nandina, and Fatsia. More information and chemical recommendations can be found in the cottony cushion scale insect note at

Spider Mite Damage

Although the cool season is over, damage from cool season mites is beginning to appear. I found this cherry laurel with extensive mite stippling. On the leaves there were no active mites, just lots of eggs. This is the last stand of southern red mite for the summer. They spend the hot months as eggs then come out again in fall. They feed in spring but often the damage does not become apparent until the plants face some stress in hot weather. So be sure to monitor these plants in fall. Horticultural oil may help smother the eggs, but be careful in hot weather.

In North Carolina, the most important cool season mites are the spruce spider mite (Oligonychus ununguis) and southern red mite (Oligonychus ilicis). These are among the earliest and most damaging pests in nurseries and landscapes. As their name implies, cool season mites are active in spring and fall when they suck fluid from cells on plant leaves and needles. In hot summer months these mites are dormant. However, it is summer when their damage becomes apparent as chlorophyll bearing cells die. Thus, by the time plants exhibit aesthetic damage the mites are gone and treatment is wasted.
I found all stages of southern red mites on cherry laurel, but they feed on many broadleaf evergreens such as azalea, camellia, holly, and rhododendron. With eggs juveniles and adults all present these mite populations are well underway and deserve attention from nursery and landscape personnel.

Scout plants that had mites or mite damage the previous year are likely to have them again because the mites have overwintered as eggs. You can identify plants that had mite last year by looking for fine stippling damage on the old leaves. Turn them over and look with a hand lens for silk webbing, shed skins, and mites. On broadleaf evergreens, look on the underside of leaves for the southern red mite. The most efficient method of scouting for cool season mites (and other mites) is to hold a piece of white paper or a paper plate below a branch and strike it with a pencil or stick to dislodge arthropods. Spider mites will appear as tiny moving specks about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.  

For more information and control options consult the North Carolina State University insect note at

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

Pesticide Training - Red Imported Fire Ant Identification & Control

Pesticide Training - Red Imported Fire Ant Identification & Control

Fire Ants are on the move and coming into our nurseries, farms and landscape sites. Become better informed on controlling these pest at this workshop- coming up in July:

Fire Ant Program

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

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pest News for Week of June 10th


From: Steve Frank, Extension Entomologist

Hibiscus Sawfly Damage

In Georgia last week I found severe damage by hibiscus sawfly. Larvae and adults were present on the plants I surveyed. The adults are active throughout the summer. The larvae feed on hibiscus and related plants. The larvae skeletonize leaves when they are young, but quickly defoliate plants as they grow. Contact insecticides such as bifenthrin and Orthene will kill larvae. Other insecticides such as spinosad, acetamiprid, azadirachtin and others listed can be used ( The larvae are not caterpillars so be sure to look for sawflies specifically on the label of the product you select. More information on this critter may be found at

New Pest: Daylily Leafminer Active Now

The daylily leafminer is a recent pest from Asia. It was first detected in 2006, but is now spread through much of the Southeast including North Carolina. I spotted some last week on a trip to Georgia. This fly lays its eggs in day lilies and the larvae produce relatively straight, vertical mines. Pruning infested leaves will help prevent the larvae from maturing and infesting new leaves. I do not know of any formal efficacy tests on this pest but other material targeting leafminers such as imidacloprid and pyriproxifen should help. A recent article about this pest is in American Nurseryman

Cicadas in Nurseries and Landscapes

For folks in western parts of the state you may have periodical cicadas in your nursery or landscape. Of course this will depend on a number of things including the habitat surrounding your nursery. Areas with a lot of suburban development may have fewer than less disturbed areas.

Cicadas cause damage to trees when they lay eggs in branches. They use a knife-like ovipositor (egg inserter) to insert eggs into thin tree branches. This causes slits in the branch that could be 6 inches long or more. This long scar reduces plant aesthetic value, but also weakens branches. Scarred branches usually break and fall to the ground or break and remain hanging in the tree, but turn brown.

We have found that imidacloprid reduces oviposition in landscape trees ( Females detect the insecticide with their ovipositor so treated trees have fewer scars and the scars are much shorter. Thus branches do not become as weak so there is less flagging. This is not to say you should treat every tree with imidacloprid. Most landscape trees over a few feet tall can withstand losing many branches with no negative effects on health. Even nursery stock could survive losing branches, but may need corrective pruning. Nursery stock can be pruned to remove scarred branches. 

Trees that are very valuable could be protected with mesh netting to keep cicadas off ( This may apply to specimen trees in landscapes or to particularly expensive nursery trees. Japanese maples may be one species where shape is very important and it would be worth protection of some sort.

Cicada Management for Homeowners

With cicadas emerging, big box stores are overflowing with insecticides promising to kill periodical cicadas. This may be true. If you take a particular insecticide off the shelf and pour it on a cicada it will kill it. But these products will not ‘control’ cicadas. There are millions upon billions of them. 

There is no such thing as an insecticide that only kills cicadas. They also kill butterflies, bees, and other non-target organisms. It is important that homeowners consider the risks of these insecticides (some) compared to the benefit (none). Cicadas do not last long and pose no risk to people. Insecticides do.

The other problem with trying to manage cicadas with insecticides is that they are generally ineffective. Especially products available to homeowners provide so little benefit that the monetary cost and risk is just not worth it. If you managed to spray a whole tree with Orthene or Sevin for instance cicadas would likely colonize it again within hours or days.

Cicadas cause damage to trees when they lay eggs in twigs. They use a knife-like ovipositor (egg inserter) to insert eggs into thin twigs. This causes slits in the branch that could be 6 inches long or more. This long scar reduces plant aesthetic value, but also weakens branches. Scarred branches usually break and fall to the ground or break and remain hanging in the tree but turn brown.

Trees that are very small or that you just planted this year are at risk if they get many cicada oviposition scars. Cicadas prefer skinny branches (< 0.5 inch) so if your tree trunk is this skinny it could get damaged and this could kill your tree. Other trees will shed a few twigs and go on about their lives. You can protect trees with mesh netting to prevent cicadas from damaging them.

If you are unhappy about having cicadas on your porch or sidewalk just sweep them off. If you apply insecticide to these trapped critters (they don’t want to be on your porch) you will end up with a dead smelly pile of cicadas that you have to sweep up anyway. In addition, as you walk across the porch and sidewalk you will get insecticide on your shoes that will be carried into your house where kids and pets play on the floor. When you take your shoes off you get insecticide on your hands. Next thing you know you are eating a sandwich.

Insecticides have a place. That is to reduce economic or aesthetic damage to plants that we eat or enjoy.  Insecticide applied for cicadas won’t achieve this. So save your money and wait it out or try to enjoy it.

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