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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Homeowners face plant issues

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Linda Tinnin looks at tomatoes she picked from her garden.
SIKESTON -- Wondering if that pecan tree needs water or why the skin on those tomatoes is cracking? And is it normal for the lawn to look so stressed?

These are just some of the horticultural issues local gardeners are facing this summer or should be preparing for this month.

"Pecans are sometimes forgotten about this time of year, and this is the time that homeowners should help them along," said Anthony Ohmes, agronomist for Mississippi County Extension Office.

In order to stay cool, pecans lose water at a much more rapid pace when temperatures increase. A pecan tree needs about two inches of water every week.

"There are basically two stages of pecan development which require adequate water: nut grow, which is the end of July, and kernel fill, which is the end of August through shuck split," Ohmes said.

Pecans can only tolerate a two-week drought. Lack of water during this period of time in a pecan's nut development will not only affect kernel fill, but also shuck opening and nut drop.

"If you have not watered your pecan tree(s) and have access to water, this is the time of year to water," Ohmes said.

Water within the area shaded at high noon, but avoid concentrating water at the trunk. The trees will require two inches (a little over an hour daily with most standard hydrants) a week evenly distributed around the tree.

"Hopefully, rains will help supplement this need as we move into fall," Ohmes said.

A popular fruit grown by many residents is tomatoes.

"I have had some questions earlier this season about skin cracking. Not much is known to exactly why this occurs. However, it is understood that root development and water play an important role," Ohmes said.

Early in the season tomato roots are small and inefficient compared to the rapidly growing plant which results in less water uptake. Uneven, infrequent watering early in the season will result in an increase incidence of blossom end rot, which is a calcium deficiency.

Late in the season, the root system is massive and in some cases too efficient, Ohmes said. Large amounts of water from excess rain or over watering can increase water levels in fruit faster than cells in skin can expand resulting in cracks. Some varieties are more prone to cracking than others. "One more thing, heat will stop or decrease fruit set on tomatoes. Temperatures above 95 degrees during the day and 75 degrees at night will decrease pollen viability," Ohmes said.

Now is also the time of year when many lawns go dormant, Ohmes said. "This is a survival mechanism for grass."

Check the area above the soil where grass blades emerge for green tissue, Ohmes advised.

"If it's green then when cooler weather arrives your lawn should rebound," Ohmes said. "If grass has been stressed all summer from short mowing (less than two inches) then you may experience some turf loss."

Make sure to have a good seed-to-soil contact and frequent watering to germinate seed, Ohmes said.

"A yard is as stressed as it gets right now," said Lyman Dame of Sikeston. "September is a good time to rejuvenate your lawn, fertilize and plant it," Dame grows cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, peas and carrots in his garden. But unlike some area residents, Dame hasn't experienced anything too terrible with his plants, he said.

"Everything's doing good now," Dame said about his plants. "It's getting to be the time of year to do the fall feedings."

As homeowners prepare the next phase of their lawns and plants, Dame said to remember: "You can't change weather. You have to try to get along with it."