Despite the weather the crops are growing well. We started squash pollination just two days later than last year. The plants are responding with rapid growth to the day or two of sunshine we have been getting.
There's a fair amount of disease around this year; not unexpected with the weather conditions we've had, and are having, but not as much as we expected. Insect pressure continues daily with aphids and Mexican Bean beetles topping the list. I saw Japanese beetles yesterday for the first time this year. Luckily they're easy to kill but fly in as soon as their brethren die off. Some of their favorite crops include bush beans, raspberries and grapes. Rosa rugosa roses are a good plant to keep an eye on as they love the blossoms. Best time to spray Japanese beetles is first thing in the morning while they're clustered together in bunches waiting for the sun to warm them up. Of course you have to keep spraying them as new ones fly in routinely. Pyganic works well on them.
Mexican bean beetles will make short work of your bush beans if you don't control them. A couple of sprays of Pyganic should keep their numbers in check. Mexican Bean beetles are members of the ladybug family; one of the only members that don't eat other insects. The adults lay their eggs mid-summer on bean leaves and the larvae hatch out and they do the most damage. The larvae are yellow and fuzzy. Here again they're easy to kill and a couple of sprays ought to do them, but you've got to do it.
Onion thrips are out; by the time you see their damage it's too late. We scouted last week and found some so a weekly spraying of Pyganic has started. Thrips also damage gladiolas and iris so if you have them an early spray should keep their numbers on check. They will destroy or severely weaken the crops aforementioned and a couple of sprays a week to ten days apart will keep their numbers down. Monterey Insect spray and Entrust will kill them.
Aphids are out in force as they usually are. Certain flowers and crops seem to attract them in great numbers; they're easy to spot where they are heavily populated. A strong stream of water will wash them off the plants and they will generally not return. Safer's Soap will kill the remaining stubborn ones.
When spraying any insecticide it's important to avoid killing the good bugs; the parasitic wasps, ladybugs, mantids, ground beetles and butterflies. We use a "threshold" to determine if spraying and insecticide is warranted. A threshold is a number given to an insect population in a certain crop area. For example if we found one thrip in twenty onion plants that threshold would tell us we needn't use an insecticide as the numbers of insects in really small. If on the other hand we counted twenty thrips per plant spraying would happen sooner than later. The threshold determines when to spray based on whether the pest numbers will do economic harm to the crop. Low numbers usually indicate spraying isn't needed and high numbers indicate the opposite.
Until next week keep the bugs in check.
For more information, please see our videos on pest and disease controls.
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--The Webmaster, Johnny's Selected Seeds