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Plant Galls Appearing Everywhere

Pink azalea bush blooming in a blue day of springtime

Contributed by: Regional Extension Agent, Mallory Kelley

This seems to be the season for galls, from camellia galls to azalea galls and even pecan galls, the question is what should you do if you have them?  Are they going to kill the plant, is it an insect or a disease?

Azaleas are a staple plant for the southern landscape with many different varieties and types.  They prefer a shady environment with morning sun and acid soil (pH 4.5-5.5).  If they get too much sun or the pH gets too high, they can develop some problems.  Azaleas are most commonly affected by lace bugs and spider mites, but from time to time you will see galls which can be pale green, pink, white, or brown fleshy growths, caused by the fungus Exobasidium vaccinii, that may develop on leaves, branch tips, flower parts, and even on seedpods. The fungus overwinters within the infected plant. In the late spring and early summer, a whitish coating appears on the swollen plant tissue. This coating is composed of many microscopic fungal structures which produce spores capable of infecting more plants during moist weather. This disease is not usually a serious problem unless wet conditions prevail for long periods of time. To control this problem, the galls should be hand-picked and destroyed before they turn white. If the gall is removed you greatly reduce the chances of it occurring next year.

Camellias are also a staple landscape plant in the south and much like the azalea prefer a shady environment with morning sun and an acid pH. They too can be plagued with a gall forming fungal disease (Exobasidium camelliae) which is very closely related to that on the azalea (Exobasidium vaccinia), but these galls only form on leaves and young shoots and range from a cream to light green to a pink or reddish color.

As these galls mature, several layers of the lower leaf surface will peel away revealing a white color, which is the spores of the fungus. These spores are spread by the wind and splashing rain to the bark or buds of other camellias where they’ll lie dormant until next year and cause infection next spring. This disease is most commonly seen in April and May. Later in the season these galls will harden and turn brown and may fall to the ground or remain attached to the plants. Again, pruning the infected part of the branch and throwing it away is the best remedy.

Pecan galls are also a prevalent problem right now in the home garden.  Unlike the azalea and camellia galls this one is caused by an insect, Phylloxera spp. The Pecan Phylloxera are aphid-like insects that emerge in spring and infest leaves and twigs. Big populations of this insect can cause loss of the pecan crop for the current year and also the following year and heavy infestations can cause the tree to defoliate.  Often times if this occurs early in the year the tree will leaf back out before fall.

If you only enjoy your tree for its foliage and not the nuts, nothing needs to be done. Phylloxera populations vary widely from year to year depending on weather and predators. Controlling this problem in the home garden can be very difficult due to lack of equipment needed to spray a mature tree.  If you want to harvest nuts, use a hose-end sprayer designed for trees to apply the active ingredient spinosad or carbaryl in early April and again two weeks later spraying as high as you can possibly reach, some control is better than no control.

Timing the pesticide application is critical. You won’t get ANY control if you wait until you see the galls. Spray your tree about the time the pecan buds show a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch of new growth, usually this is around the first week in April. Good control one year will often keep phylloxera damage low for several years unless infested trees are nearby.

Making Nutrition Easy, Tasty and Affordable is a SNAP!

Contributed by:Agent Assistant, Shonda Wright

The Urban SNAP Education Program provides educational classes focusing on nutrition, exercise, food safety, and hand washing. Participants learn how to make wise choices, plan healthier meals, purchase safe foods, apply food safety skills when purchasing, preparing, cooking, and storing foods. Urban SNAP-Education Program promotes good health, wellness, and fitness  through nutrition education for adults and youth.

Also, food demonstrations provide hands-on learning for healthy meals.

If interested in Urban SNAP-Ed classes, please call Program Assistant Shonda Wright @(334) 505-4324 or email syw0002@auburn.edu

Local Residents Learn the Art of Canning

Participants listen to Regional Extension Agent Janice Hall during Canning Workshop

Contributed by:  Regional Extension Agent,Janice Hall

(Autaugaville, AL)  The Autauga County Extension Office held a 2 hour workshop on canning on June 21, 2016 at the Autauga County Extension Office.

Residents from around the River Region learned about food safety while canning high-acidic foods (water-bath canning) and canning low-acidic foods (pressure canning).  They also received information on pickling, freezing, and drying foods.

Regional Extension Agent Janice Hall conducted the interactive class and told participants that being careful is key to food preparation.

“Food safety was an important part of the workshop, so proper canning equipment usage was demonstrated.  Participants reported to us that they were once afraid of pressure canning, but after attending our workshops, they felt more at ease with the process”, Hall emphasized.

Participants were shown some of the different products needed for canning, received a demonstration on using the latest canning equipment, received a Food Preservation Cookbook and sampled a product prepared during the class.

If you are interested in learning more about food preservation, please call the Autauga County Extension office at 334-361-7273.



Managing Fire Ants with Baits

Close up of red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) or simply RIFA

Article Contributed by: Regional Extension Agent, Chip East

Fire ants can be a major problem for anyone in the southeast and even in other parts of the country as well. Any outside area where someone may be walking, standing, sitting, or playing for any amount of time such as city parks where children play, athletic turf, camp sites, outdoor concerts, lawns, etc. are areas that probably need to be treated for fire ants. Even areas around vegetable gardens/fields and fruit orchards/plantings may need to be managed for fire ant control. Many growers who have “pick your own” farms, such as strawberry, blueberry, muscadine, blackberry, and some vegetables, may treat to keep their customers or employees picking.

Many products for broadcast and mound treatment can be used on some sites such as lawn areas, but only a few products are labeled for fruit and vegetable production areas. I like using broadcast baits because we can treat a large site without searching for individual mounds, and it is cheaper as well. Read the label of bait products to find out the different sites the products can be applied.

Extinguish Professional Fire Ant Bait (S-methoprene) is labeled for fruits and vegetables; Ferti-lome Come and Get It, Payback Fire Ant Bait, and various other trade names (Spinosad) is labeled for fruits and vegetables; Esteem Ant Bait (Pyriproxyfen) is labeled for select vegetables, and tree or vine fruits, refer to the label for specifics; Altrevin Fire Ant Bait Insecticide (metaflumizone) can be used on grape vineyards, citrus and nut trees, and non-bearing stone and pome fruit trees. Clinch (abamectin) is labeled for vegetables, citrus, nuts, apples, grapes, stone fruit, strawberry, and pear. Some of these products are only sold in 25 pound containers and would not be needed unless treating large acreage.

Contact your local Extension office, and we can help you decide on the treatment that is best for your site. Fire ants travel as far as they need to travel for food. It is possible to treat the lawn that is around but not in the garden or orchard site with a product labeled for lawns and still kill manage the ants in the adjacent site.

Alabama Cooperative Extension System Entomologist Dr. Kathy Flanders visited many retail stores, farm supply stores, and nurseries across the state and noted the fire ant management products available on shelves. The list of the products available can be found in our Extension publication ANR0175A and is titled “2016 Fire Ant Control Materials for Alabama Homeowners”.  It can be found by typing “fire ant control materials” into the search box on our web site at www.aces.edu or by clicking this link http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-0175-A/ANR-0175-A.pdf This publication also lists the approximate cost per acre of the different baits, cost per acre of residual insecticides designed to be spread, and the cost per ten mounds for individual mound treatments.

When using a fire ant bait or any other pesticide, follow the directions on the label. These baits need to be kept in a cool dry place, and when they are opened, they need to be used quickly. Only purchase the amount needed, and do not try to keep the bait for use months later. The baits use an oil to attract the ants, and the oil goes bad if kept too long or not stored properly. The baits need to be applied when the ants are actively foraging. This means the baits need to be applied when temperatures are between 60 and 80oF. Do not apply the bait just before or after a rain or before or after disturbing the mound such as mowing grass. The baits are only good for a short period of time after the application, so conditions need to be right. All of this is explained on the label.

A trick to help you know when to apply the bait would be to put out some greasy potato chips around the site. Wait a few minutes and check the chips, if ants have covered them up then that would be a good time to apply the bait. If not, the application may need to be postponed to a later time. My favorite time to apply fire ant bait is spring and fall, but it depends on the site. Many of the baits should be applied at one pound to one and a half pounds per acre. On a small scale such as two acres or less, you can use a hand held spreader to apply the bait. On a larger scale, we have fire ant bait spreaders in many Extension offices around the state that hook up to ATV’s, tractors, and trucks that the client can borrow to spread bait.

As always, if you have any questions, give us a call at the Autauga County Extension Office at 334.361.7273.

Relationship Smarts+ Classes

Marbury 5.2016

Contributed by: Regional Extension Agent, Sallie Lide-Hooker

Groups of Autauga County students recently completed a round of classes  aimed at helping teens negotiate relationships.

Regional Extension Agent Sallie Lide-Hooker taught the Relationship Smarts+ curriculum March, April and May of 2016. This is a part of the Alabama Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Incentive, or “AHMREI”.

The project is funded by a three year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Family Assistance. These educational programs for youth are focused on enhancing knowledge and promoting the skills identified in research as key components of healthy relationships and stable marital relationships.

The curriculum embodies an innovative approach that addresses positive youth development, life skills, healthy relationships, dating violence, and pregnancy prevention. It builds assets and strengthens protective factors by appealing to teenagers’ aspirations, rather than merely pointing out what they must avoid. It shares what a healthy relationship is and what it isn’t.

Teens learned that healthy relationships begin with the individual – they were guided to identify their personal strengths and weaknesses and to understand how the past affects the present. They were guided in determining how to select partners wisely. They were also exposed to the “red flags” in relationships. They also learned how to deal with breakups in order to move forward.

For more information about Relationship Smarts, please contact Regional Extension Agent, Sallie Lide-Hooker at the Autauga County Extension Office at 334.361.7273.

Marbury 3 5.16   Marbury 2 5.16

Autauga County Friends of the Forest 2016

friends of forest 9

(Autaugaville, AL) The 10th annual Friends of the Forest drew more than 300 area Autauga County students into one of the Alabama TREASURE Forest areas for a unique learning experience on May 4 – 5, 2016.

Friends of the Forest is an educational program designed to teach the importance of private forest land and private forest landowners regarding multiple use management of our forests’ natural resources.

Autauga County Extension Coordinator Darrue Sharpe said this year’s program was a success.  “We were able to visit classrooms and tell the students about the natural resources all around them, and after our in-school visits, the forest became a classroom as hundreds of participating school children came into to an actual TREASURED Forest to learn”, Sharpe stated.

Organizer, Brigetta Giles, Chair of the Autauga Forestry & Wildlife Stewardship Council, said the event taught a valuable lesson. Giles stated, “This program focuses on teaching our children that forests are renewable , natural resources that provide many important things in our lives including jobs, clean air, shelter, and much-much more.”

Giles adds “This project educates fifth graders on the importance of multiple use management and why we are to be responsible for the well-being of our natural resources.”

In school training

(Above) Prior to the outdoor classroom event, volunteers visited participating schools to talk with youth about promoting healthy and productive rural and urban forests, clean water, and abundant wildlife.

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Students were led to different outdoor classrooms which offered demonstrations and talks on such topics as: water quality of rivers and streams, tree identification, timber growth and usage, understanding why animals and trees need space, and showing appreciation and respect for privately owned forests.  The event was held on the property of Mr. And Mrs. Jimmy Hughes- generous supporters of this annual event.

The Autauga Forestry & Wildlife Stewardship Council, of which the Autauga County Extension Office is a proud member, holds this event annually.  Friends of the Forest is open and free to public, private, and home schooled children in Autauga County.

For more information about plans for the 2017 Friends of the Forest, please contact the Autauga County Extension Office at 334-361-7273.


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group shot friends of forest