Archive for May, 2013

Diseases of Cucumbers by George Giltner, Master Gardener


Diseases of Cucumbers

by George Giltner, Master Gardener

As the temperatures and bug populations continue to rise to their summertime highs, so rises the problems with diseases of the Cucurbitaceae family, including cucumbers.  However preventative measures go a long way in extending the growing season and overall health of your cucs.

To begin with, plant disease resistant varieties and try new varieties to determine their ability to survive the onslaught of the challenges of nature.  Also, just like the coach tells you in sports – first focus on the basics, like water, plant spacing, pH, porosity of the soil, weeds, and fertility issues.  Healthy plants are more disease resistant – no doubt – no discussion necessary.  Focus on these basics to reduce plant stress factors which affect natural defensive chemistry and mechanical resistance.

Water issues rank first and foremost, and it is the easiest issue to correct.  If you plant bush cucumbers on bare, flat soil, they will be exposed to continuous splatters of fungi and bacteria with rain and watering.  That bare soil will dry in the hot summer temperatures, exposing the plant to extreme water and heat stress variations which invite disease and insects.

A better planting plan would be to plant bush cucumbers in raised hills at least three feet apart with 1 foot spacing between plants on that hill.  Mulch the hills with three inches of loose pine straw that has not been compressed or shredded.  Air can easily flow around this type of mulch and rain splatter is eliminated while the soil underneath remains about 20 degrees cooler than bare soil.  The tannins in the pine straw are a naturally antagonistic to many pests.  The depth of composted organic matter in the mound should extend to two feet deep to optimally retain moisture and nutrients.  Worms will inhabit the mound providing nutrient rich, air exchange tunnels which allows roots to grow deep and extensively.

Check your water source for pH, chlorine, sodium, and other minerals that can affect plant growth.  Rain water reservoirs are an excellent alternative to tap water.  Always use a moisture meter to determine the correct amount of watering necessary.  Guessing leads to problems.

Avoid planting any member of the cucurbit family in the same soil location for at least three years.  Squash, melons, and pumpkins can leave accumulated pathogens in the soil.  Also this family, as others, will deplete the soil of specific minerals.  Therefore crop rotation is paramount.  Mineral depletions may appear as a biological disease, but soil testing or leaf analysis will detect the deficiency problem.

The worst and most common biological disease with cucumbers is the cucumber mosaic virus (CMV).  The developing young leaves become yellow and wilt, while older leaves have yellow green or dark green mottling.  CMV also infects clovers, nightshades, dandelions, and other plants.  Insects like aphids and cucumber beetles can easily spread CMV.  Remember that broad range insecticides will kill target the bad bugs, but also destroy nature’s balance by eliminating 95% of other beneficial and nondestructive life.  Always use the least destructive insecticide.  Remove infected plants to a distance of 100 yards for control.  Use repellants like garlic and pepper spays religiously.

Research and become familiar with the following cucumber diseases:

Fungal diseases – Anthracnose, belly rot, downy mildew, fusarium wilt, gummy stem blight, scab, target leafspot.

Bacterial diseases – Angular leafspot and bacterial wilt

Viral diseases – Cucumber Mosiac Virus (CMW), Papaya Ringspot Virus (PRSV), Watermelon Mosiac Virus (WMV), and Zucchini Yellow Mosaic Virus (ZYMV)

Nematodes – Root Knot

Moisture on leaves, wet soil, and insect vectors are your enemies of a successful and long term cucumber crop.  Therefore assure that your plants have an optimal growing environment (basic), plenty of beneficial insects are present in your garden and harmful bugs are under control.  Also remove and dispose of diseased plants.  Then healthy cucumbers can supply their complete healthy nutrient complement to your diet.

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The White-Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar

The White-Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar
By George Giltner, Master Gardener

2013 WMTM

The caterpillar of the White Tussock Moth

Ouch! Most of us in forested areas have come in contact with these little tuffed (tussocks) hair caterpillars with short, bristly, toxic pincushion hairs on their backs.  These stinging hairs cause a very irritating rash especially on the inner arms, neck, and stomach areas.  Where do they come from?  Look no further than trees and brush as these caterpillars feed on a large variety of leaves including oak, pecan, hickory, walnut, willow, rose, maple, pear, and many others, including conifers.

The population densities cycle from year to year with very high numbers one year, then possibly no reports the next year.  They can cause economic loses of newly planted trees (1-3 years old) when complete defoliation occurs.  Healthy developed trees usually recover even when they are completely defoliated.

A positive ID is made by observing the orange head, tuffs on the back, and red dots on the hind abdominal segments that are in line with a dorsal black stripe.  Also look for the brown, paint bush tail hairs. The white-marked tussock moth is related to the gypsy moth, family Lymantriidae, which also has the tussock stinging hairs on the larvae.

To control the young caterpillars (less than ¾ inches) use Bt products like Dipel or Thuricide.  For the larger caterpillar that can reach 1.25 inches, use pyrethroids (synthetics), pyrethrums (natural), or spinosad products.  Birds are voracious feeders on the large caterpillars.

The caterpillars first appear in early April after overwintering in the egg stage.  Then they go through several enlargement stages during 35 days to pupation.  The gray cocoons with silk threads may be noticed in the bark of host plants.  The adults emerge in about 2 weeks, mate, and then die.  The males are born with well-developed wings, but the females are forced to stay local with undeveloped wings. Three generations per year are normal for the white-tussock moth, Orgyia leucostigma.

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SW LA Beekeepers Association May Newsletter


Hello Fellow beekeepers,
Old man winter has hit us with a couple of late cool snaps this last month. The hardest one came the last week of March/first week of April with two mornings of heavy frost that really hurt some of the fruit bloom. The frost killed the white clover blooms, which took about a week to recover. Many people lost their tomatoes and pepper plants, even with them covered. The third week of April cooled down a bit with the north side of our area seeing temperatures in the thirties. By the end of May we will be pleading for the cool weather to return.
The bees are beginning to bring in surplus nectar and I am seeing some fresh wax starting to show up. This year the bees may not swarm as much a normal or the swarming has been delayed a little. I have had only three or four swarm calls where as last year I had a dozen or more by this time. On Saturday April 20, I had just added a honey super to a crowded hive and was adding to other hives when a swarm poured out and settled on a branch about twenty foot up. I gathered up my swarm bucket and extra box only to return and find that they had went on to greener pastures. Maybe a caring beekeeper has found them. Awesome sight to watch them swarm.
May is upon us and the tallow bloom in coming at the end of the month, better have the honey supers ready to add. We have had an average rain fall this year so the nectar flow should be good this spring. I love chicken trees!(Chinese tallow trees) The white clover will hang around till the temperatures get close to 90 degrees which is usually mid-may.
This month our club meeting will be on May 6th at my house, 4456 hwy 27 DeRidder la. Board member Suzie Langly will go over inspecting a hive and what to look for in a healthy hive. If you have a suit and veil bring it because we will open up a hive and go thru it. If you don’t have a suit, come on any way I have one you can borrow. The fun starts a 7 O’clock so we only have a little over an hour before dark then we will have to go inside for discussion and questions. Looking forward to seeing you there, so come on.
Mr. Jimmy Cooley had some fun when his hive swarmed only days before they were to be requeened. The cool weather had delayed queen shipment and put him later requeening than planned. O well “what man proposes, God disposes” Mr. Jimmy’s marked queen left with half or more of the workers. Plan B, Pull out the new queens and introduce the purchased queen. I have posted some on Jimmy’s photos of the requeening event.

Richard Hebert,

President, SWLABA

requeening 4

A few new Weaver queen bees.

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Installing New Queen Bees in Bee Hives by Jimmy Cooley & Richard Hebert


Installing New Queen Bees in Bee Hives


Jimmy Earl Cooley

Richard Hebert

requeening 3

Jimmy Earl Cooley has one bee hive designated, Hebert Hive, which was started in April of 2012. He purchased a complete bee starter kit from Mann Lake and assembled on April 16, 2012. Richard Hebert, president of the Beauregard Parish Beekeepers Association and long time bee keeping hobbyists captured swarm of bees in DeRidder, LA and placed the swarm, with queen, into Jimmy’s hive on April 25th. With help and assistance, visits, emails, telephone calls and personal contact, and beekeepers meetings Jimmy has managed the healthy hive through the spring and summer of 2012 and harvested one half gallon of honey in September 2012.  The hive successfully made it through the winter of 2012 in good shape.  It was decided to replace the queen bee in the spring of 2013 so several queen bees were ordered from RWeaver of Texas. The Queen bees were ordered; marked and clipped and delivered to us on April 17th.  The original plan, before the swarming, was to split the Hebert Hive into two groups with a new queen in each of two hives.  Hebert and Shirley Hives.

Unfortunately, on April 12, 2013 the Hebert Hive swarmed and   at least 50 % of the bees were lost, plus the queen. When I noticed the overhead swarming around 11 am on this morning and consequently the gathering of the swarm on a 40 foot tall pine sapling.  I decided to try to capture the swarm and truly I should have called for help in removing the swarm from the top of the young pine tree. This would have allowed for additional hands and knowledge in trying capturing the ball of bees that had settled near the top of the pine sapling. It would have allowed for one person to cut the tree and the other to slowly lower the tree, allowing for capture of the bees in a box, rather than what happened, which was: I cut the tree diameter too much and it fell and the bees dispersed and lost the queen in process. This resulted in the queen flying away to another tree near the original tree, but a sweet gum instead of pine. By time I tried to react the new swarm being formed, in the sweet gum tree and consequently the swarm leaving for unknown parts and The hive remained queen less (or we thought so) for two days before the new queens arrived and  we proceeded to open the hive and install a new queen on April 18th.  When the hive was opened we found many queen cells that were already opened and Richard retrieved two young queens from the open hive.  He captured and removed the 2 new queens and placed in plastic queen containers.  He then installed one of the new queens (Buckfast variety) at 6 pm on April 18 into the hive and closed it.  The Hebert Hive was opened on Saturday the 20th at 7 pm for inspection to see if the new queen had been released by the workers from the queen box into the hive.  The queen box was empty and the queen and workers that were shipped with her were gone and in the hive.  The hive seemed content with this arrangement.

For the Shirley Hive, Richard had a queen less group of bees that he removed from one of his hives so he installed this bunch of bees into my Shirley Hive (which was empty) along with one of the new queens (All American) and the hive closed, again around 6pm on April 18th .  This hive was also opened on Saturday, April 20th for inspection to see if the new queen had been released by the workers from the queen box into the hive.  The sugar was not completely eaten away and she was not released, so I carefully opened a small hole in the candy disc and she quickly left the queen cage and dropped into the hive.  I looked at the hive around dark and all seemed content.

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SWARM of JECs Hebert Bee Hive on April 12, 2013


SWARM of JECs Hebert Bee Hive on April 12, 2013

On April 12, 2013 my Hebert Hive swarmed and I lost at least 50 % of the bees plus the queen.  Hive is now queen less, unless they have created a new queen.  Lessons to be learned from this experience.

I never let the hive become overcrowded.

I should have reacted to my inspection a month ago, indicating a full hive and evidence of queen cell activity, and split hive even though I did not have a new queen bee.  The split could have made their own queen.

I should never have added the super to the two brood boxes in Hebert Hive.  Although I though this would give more room and discourage them reaching a swarm point, I think the addition of the super only triggered fright or sped up swarm process.

When I noticed the overhead swarming around 11 am on this morning and consequently the gathering of the swarm on a 40 fool tall pine sapling, I should have called for help in removing the swarm from the top of the young pine tree. This would have allowed for additional hands and knowledge in trying to capture the ball of bees that had settled near the top of the pine sapling. It would have allowed for one person to cut the tree and the other to slowly lower the tree, allowing for capture of the bees in a box, rather than what happened, which was: I cut the tree diameter to much and it fell and the bees dispersed and lost the queen in process.

This resulted in the queen flying away to another tree near the original tree, but a sweet gum instead of pine.  By time I tried to react the the new swarm being formed, in the sweet gum tree and consequently the swarm leaving for unknown parts and places.

Even though new queen bees had been ordered and were late being delivered, it would have been better to split the Hebert Hive and try to save old and split hive.

I should have anticipated this reality and planned appropriately,   now the status is the Hebert Hive has no queen but still has bees.  The new give (named Shirley Hive previously) is now without bees or queen.

Is there enough bees still left in the Hebert Hive to split with Shirley Hive??  Does the Hebert Hive now have a queen, new one made by inhabitants?   I have two queen bees ordered and coming in earmarked for replacement of the queen in Hebert Hive and the other to start the Shirley Hive.  Was going to place the old queen, from Hebert Hive in a queen making box and try to grow some queen bees using her as mother.  Now this has all been lost !   How to recover??

What will be the consequences of having the Hebert Hive left queen less for up to 4 to 5 days without a queen?  Will they start new queen cells and should replace these when mail order queen bee arrives, in approximately 4 days? DSCF1037

To many possibilities for one so inexperienced as myself.  I did look for dispersed swarm yesterday till almost dark and again this morning (Saturday, 13) but did not locate the lost swarm, but from what I read and discussion with Richard Hebert the swarm will usually travel far away looking for new quarters.
Much Obliged

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