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Agriculture Today

Prevent hypoxylon with adequate water

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South Texas Gardener
November 7, 2012 | 3,104 views | Post a comment

Q. What is that disease that is killing oaks and other trees because of the drought? You talked about it on the Gardening South Texas radio show a few weeks ago. The bark sloughs off and a black or brown smooth area shows up under the bark. Is there any prevention or cure?

A. The disease is hypoxylon. The spores are everywhere and develop in stressed trees. Once a tree has the disease and the symptoms appear, it is doomed. The main prevention is to provide growing trees adequate water.

Q. My nurseryman recommended against planting Bermuda grass seed now because it is too cold to germinate and develop. Surely that is incorrect. It has been over 80ºF everyday.

A. I agree with your nurseryman. Bermuda grass requires hot weather to germinate and to grow. It is cool at night in the fall, and even if it germinates, it will be susceptible to freeze damage unless it has a growing and hardening off period. Wait until May 1 to plant Bermuda grass by seed.

Q. What are our options for winter color in the flower garden?

A. In the shade, consider growing cyclamen and primula. In the sun, you have a large choice. Pansies, snapdragons, petunias, dianthus, stocks, and calendulas all do well. Protect the low-growing plants, such as pansies and primula, with slug and snail bait.

Q. My tomatoes are tennis-ball sized and still very green. How much more time will they need before the first freeze to reach full size and color?

A. I think that three weeks will do it. You can also protect them from the first freeze and give them some extra time. Check out the “planket” freeze-protection product at the nursery, or have your blankets and agricultural fiber (Insulate and others) on hand. If the forecast calls for temperatures under 28ºF, provide a heat source -- holiday lights or a mechanic’s light work well.

Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the director of the Water Conservation and Technology Center at Texas A&M-San Antonio. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays noon to 2 p.m., and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Or, email him at reader@wcn-online.com.

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