Western Mountains and High Plains

August, 2005
Regional Report

Prevent Rot-Like Conditions on Tomatoes

Now that tomatoes are setting fruit, be on the watch for a physiological disorder that causes the bottom of the tomatoes to develop sunken, brown or black, leathery spots. This tomato disorder is termed "blossom end rot" or BER, and it's caused by irregular or uneven watering practices. This often occurs when the plants are watered too lightly or too much and then the soil is allowed to get too dry. The best way to prevent BER is to mulch tomato plants with an organic mulch that helps to maintain uniform moisture in the soil. Water tomatoes thoroughly, deeply, and consistently, and try to prevent fluctuations in soil moisture.

Grow the Sweetest Corn

Keep sweet corn well watered as it begins to set ears. The quality of the ears is directly related to how quickly the corn plant grows. Check the silks to make sure they're not being devoured by earwigs or caterpillars. Damage will result in incomplete pollination and poor kernel development. Apply a few drops of mineral oil on the tips of the ears to reduce damage from these nasty pests.

Plant a Fall Crop

If you want a fall crop of peas, spinach, beets, turnips, or cabbage, now is the time to plant. These crops will germinate quickly in the warm soil of your garden. Many of the pests, such as root maggots and soil-borne diseases, have had their season and gone. These crops prefer the cooler weather of fall and will continue to yield even after a light frost.

Don't Be Alarmed by Giant Caterpillars

Now it the season for the larger caterpillars of summer to show up on trees and shrubs. Cecropia moth larvae are several inches long and about 1 inch in diameter. They are covered with colorful spines that help protect them from predators. Often referred to as "crawling sausages" as they crawl across the ground, they are looking for places to pupate. Since they aren't considered a major pest of trees and shrubs, no control measures are needed.

Water Deeply With a "Frog-Eye" Sprinkler

Prevent leaf scorch and stress to trees and shrubs by making sure the water is soaking deeply into the soil around the root zone. Lawn watering generally doesn't provide water deeply enough for the roots of older trees and shrubs. Use a soaker hose or "frog-eye" sprinkler placed at the root zone, and water thoroughly for 20 to 30 minutes. Water every two to three weeks in very hot weather.

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