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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Intensive Indoor Crop Production Webcast Today

Presentation today at 4:00 p.m. MST by SPLS student Connor Osgood.  See links below for the Webcast.

"Intensive Indoor Crop Production"
Connor Osgood,  SPLS Student
will offer a special presentation at the
Controlled Environment Agriculture Building (CEAC)
1951 E. Roger Road
Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 4:00 – 5:00 PM

“An Internship Completed:  Experiences in the World of Intensive Indoor Crop Production Using Hydroponics and LED Lighting at a Vertical Farm” 

The presentation will be webcast at:

for attendees without UA ID:

[please allow a few minutes prior to start of the talk  to prepare the Elluminate software]

Contact Dr. Gene Giacomelli, giacomel@ag.arizona.edu  or  Terry Albertson, talberts@email.arizona.edu
520/626-9566 for more information
Organized and Supported by the
Controlled Environment Agriculture Center,
The University of Arizona

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Why Does My Ash Tree Have Dying Limbs?

Q. I have two, twenty-year-old ash trees that appear to be dying. I have attached pictures. The smaller tree is a Modesto Ash and it started losing limbs about a year ago. The bark is now separating and it looks like an old stump with a few sprouts. The other is a Rayburn Ash. It just began having limbs die this summer but is accelerating. I am also noticing ash trees all over our neighborhood in the same condition. What is happening and what can I do to save these beauties?

A. I'm sorry to hear about your ash trees. This is a fairly common problem with ash trees in our desert Southwest. I have been dealing with this problem, mostly on Modesto Ash, for about 30 years. I no longer encourage people to plant ash trees in our climate.
Plant samples have been sent to several plant pathology laboratories over the years and no one has been able to find a disease problem.
We have been calling it ash tree decline but we do not know why it is happening. Fertilizer applications and increasing the water does not seem to help.
Modesto ash with limb dieback
The trees seem to dieback from a lack of water to some of the limbs but no one is certain why. At this point all I can tell you is to remove them when they get to the point when they become a problem to public safety or they just look bad.
The one in the side yard could have suffered from a lack of water from the picture. Modesto Ash in particular would benefit from wood mulch applied to the surface and given liberal amounts of water.
Check for borers underneath the bark that pulls away from the trunk. I suspect the trees may have been stressed either from the decline or water. This is a prime target for boring insects trying to finish off the tree.Once trees are heavily stressed there is not much you can do to prevent a borer attack to the tree. They will infest the tree and finish it off.

Black Ooze from Eucalyptus Might Be New Problem

Q. I have an ornamental Eucalyptus tree in my back yard that is 20' tall and facing west.  It has been steadily losing leaves and branches the past two years.  There is a black sap that has been oozing sap through the bark. It crystalizes into a hard substances.  Can you provide a diagnosis and treatment?
Not the readers, but this is a eucalyptus and many have a similar form.
A. Your description of this problem about your Eucalyptus bothers me. The loss of leaves, the branches dying back coupled with black sap that oozes through the bark is a very good sign of Eucalyptus borer.
What does Eucalyptus borer look like?

To my knowledge, this insect is not been reported in southern Nevada. It has caused a lot of destruction in Eucalyptus in California.
I would consult this information from California: Information on Eucalyptus borer

I am paraphrasing now from California information:
"Holes in the bark and stains or oozing liquid on limbs or trunks are common symptoms of longhorned borer damage. When this borer is a problem, leaves can discolor and wilt, and limbs can die back."
"Longhorned borers usually attack stressed or damaged plants, leaving vigorous, appropriately watered trees alone. In California, however, many eucalyptus trees are seasonally water stressed during hot summer months, rendering a significant proportion of them susceptible to beetle attack. Tree species with some resistance to these wood borers can produce copious amounts of resin in response to an attack."
"Extensive larval feeding beneath the bark can spread around the entire circumference of a tree, girdling, or completely removing a strip of bark from, the trunk. Trees at this stage of infestation have a thin canopy with wilted or dry leaves, and the bark is cracked and packed with larval excrement. Infested trees usually die within of a few weeks of girdling, although resprouting can occur from the tree base."
What does this borers damage look like?

If you believe this could possibly be the problem I would hope that you would contact the Nevada Department of Agriculture and start asking some questions.They might ask you to send up samples Carson City for identification by the entomologist. This borer usually attacks trees that are not getting enough water or are not being watered often enough or both.

Nevada Department of Agriculture in Las Vegas: 702-486-4690

Don't Pick Pink Lady Apples Yet

Q. I have a Pink Lady apple tree that is very young with about 6 apples on it. They are green.  How do I know when to pick them?
Pink Lady apple in late November
A. The fruit will ripen all on their own. Wait until at least mid-November before picking them for best quality and highest sugar content.
Hopefully you thinned them to get good some size and kept watering them when needed so lack of water does not affect their size or development.
Pink lady Apple fruit stays green for a long time until it's ready to harvest. The brown spot on the green apple is due to a puncture wound

They can hang on the tree until about mid-December but by Dec 1 you should be thinking of harvesting them. Harvest earlier than this if you start to see bird damage.

What Lawn Grasses Can You Grow in Las Vegas?

Here is a chart of turfgrasses that can be grown in southern Nevada at the lower elevations. Not all of them will be available locally but many can be ordered over the Internet. Hopefully this will give you a basis for comparison when selecting a lawn grass.

If you have any further questions on selecting a lawn grass for our area, send me an email at extremehort@aol.com
For instance, be very careful if you are selecting Buffalograss.

Don't Use Containers to Store Plants until You Move

Q. I'm new to Nevada and currently renting a house.  I'm looking for plants that can stay in containers for at least a year, as we plan to take them when and if we move. I tried to grow some herbs, an eggplant, cacti, flowering plants and they all died.  
Strawberry's and vegetables grown in containers at Viragrow
A. If you are renting I would certainly encourage you to focus on annuals that you can use. I would not encourage you to buy fruit trees or landscape trees now and keep them in containers for planting later when you move.
You are better off buying those plants when you are ready to put them in the ground. There is just much too high of a risk that you'll lose them before you plant them.
If you are fond of cooking and focus on some vegetables and herbs that you would be using for cooking. I would not use containers smaller than 5 gallon unless they are cacti are succulents.
The small containers just do not hold enough water for these plants to make it through the summer months. Be prepared to water them daily. Use a good container soil when planting and avoid the cheapest soil you can buy.
Fruit trees and landscape trees never do well stored for long periods of time in containers
Most plants usually do better with an Eastern exposure rather than a southern or Western exposure. In the wintertime annual plants will frequently do better in the south and west exposures.
Take a look at my blog and do some reading up on growing container plants here.

Tricks to container gardening

Red Bird of Paradise Is Poisonous but….

Q. You had a post on your blog about red bird of paradise. posting on my blog
Will this bush hurt my dog?  I don't think she would grab the flowers.  I want to grow a big bush in this area of my back yard as my deceased husband loved the flowers.  I heard the bush is poisonous.
Flower of the red bird of paradise
A. Like so many plants, the dose makes the poison. Yes, this plant if it is taken in large quantities would be poisonous to dogs, cats, humans, etc.
However, I would point out to you that this plant is also sold, the leaves and stems primarily, for Ayurvedic medicine and has been found by researchers to have antiulcer and anti-inflammatory properties.
Please keep in mind that about 80% of all landscape plants are poisonous. Some are more poisonous than others. Take as examples oleander and the castor bean plant.
Many of our houseplants are also poisonous such as mother-in-law's tongue or snake plant and many others.
All I can tell you that in small quantities I would not be too concerned. However if an animal consumed a lot of the plant it might cause harm or worse.
My former floriculture teacher once went on television around Christmas time and demonstrated by eating the leaves of Poinsettia that it is not poisonous in small quantities. The white milky latex found in the plant may cause some burning but it does not kill you as the press has portrayed.
I will not tell you that it is non-toxic and not to have some concern about it but on the toxicity list I would probably put it as mildly toxic and keep your pets away from it if they tend to chew on things. I would also not use the flowers as a garnish for a meal.