They have been making their “buzzing “sounds for more than a month at my house. We can now see both the live forms and the skeletons on trees. Are they locusts or cicadas? If you guess cicadas you are correct. Locusts are really a form of grasshoppers. I commonly hear of “locusts” making their appearance with the buzzing sounds but they are really seeing the annual or “dog-day” cicada. Next year we will probably see the 17-year crop of periodical cicadas in eastern Ohio. Cicadas can cause damage to young trees and shrubs when the insect makes incisions in small twigs to lay their eggs causing dieback. All cicadas spend most of their life underground feeding on roots.
Weather Has the Last Word
Without a doubt the single most important challenge for gardeners, farmers or anyone who likes to spend time outdoors has been the weather. Of all the weather challenges rainfall has posed the most problems. If you are a farmer who raises wheat (there are fewer and fewer of these due to economics) the rain ruined the crop for some with the wheat sprouting in the heads in the field before it could be harvested. Trying to pick a few sunny days for cutting and baling hay has been a real challenge as well. If you want good hay you might look into locking in some hay prices now as it may get higher in price. Soybean fields look in some cases to be an experiment in giant ragweed production. The result will be lower yields as the weeds compete for light and nutrients and more harvesting problems. The fields were not able to be sprayed with a herbicide (weed killer) in some cases while the products applied in other situations were negated by the extreme rainfall. More ragweed will not help the hay fever sufferers as its pollen is among the worst.
Corn got off to a good start but the rainfall may have leached away an estimated 30-40 percent of the nitrogen which the plants need to grow and produce seed in well-drained soils or sandy soils. Also the wet weather has left bare areas in fields where crops died from lack of oxygen to plant roots. Corn plants have shallow root systems in many cases due to the wet weather and will suffer greatly if the weather turns hot and dry or we have strong winds which can bend or break the corn stalks. Corn and soybean prices have dropped as economists still see a good crop for the Midwest this year.
On the flip side of the coin the weather has been cooler which has been good for animals and green pasture. However the mosquitoes have produced a bumper crop and many people tell me they cannot be out much after sunset for fear of getting eaten alive. Keep looking for those areas and items which can hold stagnant water and drain them if possible.
If you raise vegetables or fruit, this summer has been especially hard with all of the fungus diseases. Blight on tomatoes is common with the lower leaves dying while plants like melons and pumpkins are being ravaged by leaf diseases like powdery mildew. All the more reason to do your best to select varieties of plants which are resistant to fungus diseases. And for those tomato plants that need watering try to water at the base of the plant to keep water and soil fungus from reaching the lower leaves.
For homeowners the summer has brought more frequent mowing than normal (great for companies which mow lawns). The crabgrass is doing quite well and remember it is an annual which will be killed with the first good frost. Not sure if you have crabgrass? To ID log on to: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/resources/crabgrass-control-in-home-lawns. The grass is light in color. Control now is difficult at best and expensive. If you are determined to kill it consider contacting a lawn care company as they have access to products a homeowner usually cannot get. Best control is obtained in the spring with application of a pre-emergent crabgrass control product in early April.
Seed School is coming to Antioch College this fall
Reserve your spot for Seed School at Antioch College, Sept. 29-Oct. 4, in Yellow Springs. Offered in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, Seed School is a groundbreaking, six-day educational course that trains people from all walks of life to build local seed systems rooted in the ancient tradition of seed saving. Practiced by farmers and gardeners for thousands of years, seed saving strengthens food security at the community level, empowering people to reclaim control over their food supply. Students walk away from this innovative learning experience with the knowledge and inspiration to start their own independent seed initiatives, such as community seed libraries and exchanges, seed growers cooperatives, heirloom seed businesses, and participatory plant breeding projects. For more details log on to: http://rockymountainseeds.org/attend/seed-school/144-antioch.
Better Than Firewood
Jim Byrd will share his perspective on “yard trees” and what can be done with them at the Monday, Aug. 24 meeting of Greene County Farm Forum. He owns and operates a portable Woodmiser Sawmill which he uses to saw trees into boards and other useable forms of lumber. He is not in the business of felling trees or sawing trees but can show you the options available to homeowners to be able to use the wood from “yard trees “for something other than firewood.
The meeting will be held 6:30 p.m. at Union United Methodist Church, 393 Washington Road, Xenia. The cost of the meal is $10 per person. RSVP to Paul Ayres before Friday, Aug. 21 if you intend to have dinner. No reservations are necessary if you just wish to attend the meeting. For reservations contact Paul Ayres at 937-352-6379 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The meeting is open to the public and is sponsored by OSU Extension Greene County & Farm Forum.
Jerry Mahan is a retired OSU Extension Educator Agriculture and Natural Resources for Greene County. He can be reached by email at: email@example.com.