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Jackson County Agricultural Questions

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The questions here are common ones we're frequently asked. The answers provided only give you a snapshot of how to handle the issue. If you need more information, you can contact our office or come in and visit.

Q. How can I keep deer out of my garden?
A. There are repellents galore and some of them actually work, but you have to spray after every hard rain. They have to re-applied in order to stay effective. Electric fencing is the most sure way to keep deer out. Deer have to be trained to the electric fence, meaning you need to keep high voltage on the fence at all times. Once your garden is finished, remove the fence so that the deer won’t grow accustomed to the fence.

Q. How can I tell a poisonous snake from a non-poisonous snake?
A. It is important that the snake is dead first. The best way to tell the difference is that the lines of the belly scales (below the rectum) are divided, where the lines of the scales above the rectum go straight across the belly. This is a non-poisonous snake. Snakes that have scales that go straight across all the way down are poisonous snakes. See also Avoiding Snake Encounters...

Q. How can I keep Borer/Carpenter Bees out of my house?
A. Borer Bees mainly like to bore into untreated wood around the outside of your house, or your outside buildings. They usually don’t bother treated or painted wood. Most people use a tennis racket to rid their place of Borer Bees, but Sevin Dust or spray works very well to kill all bees. When you see a hole develop, fill it with the dust or spray to prevent further damage. See also Carpenter Bees...

Q. When should I prune my fruit trees?
A. Fruit trees can be pruned any time of the year, but most people prefer to prune them during February or March before the leaves set, when you can better see the formation of the tree. The only time you truly do not want to prune is during a freeze, when there is a risk of damaging the tree due to frozen limbs (usually around January in this area).

Q. How do I know if I need to fertilize my lawn or garden?
A. It is very important before you begin your springtime planting to have a soil test done on your garden plot. The test is free through your extension office. You only have to pay for the postage. DON’T GUESS…SOIL TEST. See also Soil Testing...

Q. If I want to take advantage of the FREE soil test through the Extension Service, what do I have to do?
A. First, collect soil from 10-15 places around your plot. Dig about 2-3 inches deep and gather a small handful of soil from each place. All of the samples when combined should be roughly the equivalent of 1/2 a sandwich bag. Allow the soil to dry exposed to the air for a couple of days. Remove all sticks, rocks, and other foreign matter from the samples. Come to the WVU Extension Jackson County Office in your county to get your forms and mailing information.

Q. I have spots all over my apple leaves and the leaves are falling off. What is causing it?
A. This is a common occurrence at this time of the year. The two culprits are apple cedar rust and apple scab. Both are worse in wet years. Luckily, most of the damage is cosmetic. You will have premature leaf drop, but if the tree was already healthy, there will be no long-lasting side effects.
See also Fruit and Vegetable Diseases...

Q. How can I get rid of mosquitoes from my property?
A. The most important thing you can do is to drain or frequently change any water containers that you MEAN to have water in them such as birdbaths, puddles, pet water bowls, etc. Some of the worst culprits can be old tires, gutters, old bathtubs, etc. that hold water when it rains. You should drain them as often as possible to prevent mosquito larvae from growing to adulthood.

There are some commercial products that can be used to solve the problem. One such product is called Mosquito Dunks. These are pellets that can be put into water sources that cannot be drained, such as ponds and swamps. Mosquito Dunks containing Bt israeliensis float on water and will keep on working for 30 days or longer and are completely biodegradable. While floating, they slowly release a natural mosquito-killing bio control agent, Bti (Bacillus thuringienis israelensis) at the waters surface. Bti contains no poisonous chemicals and is completely harmless to other living things. When Bti is eaten by the mosquito larvae, it damages the gut cells, eventually entering the body cavity. Once this happens, the larvae die.

Q. I just bought a small farm. Where can I go for help and advice?
A. The best place to go is your local Extension office. Other valuable sources of information are the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS can help you with cost sharing on conservation practices to improve your farm, aerial photographs, spring and pond development and other topics. The Farm Service Agency can give you information on guaranteed farm loans, conservation programs, and agricultural disaster relief assistance. Your County Assessor’s office can help you with information on farm taxes. For assistance with getting your farm tax exempt status, contact the West Virginia Tax Department at 304-558-3333 or 800-982-8297. See also Small Farm Center...

Q. What is the Box Elder Bug?
A. The Box Elder bugs do not bite, but their piercing-sucking mouthparts can sometimes puncture skin, causing slight irritation. Their droppings make quite a mess and these pests can accumulate in great numbers in your home if left unchecked. Warm temperatures (found in buildings such as your home) interfere with their natural cycles and biology, causing them to reproduce year-round in unwanted areas—your home! The box elder bug is a common pest over much of the United States. Adults are about 1/2 inch long, bright red or black in color with narrow reddish lines on their back. These insects pests feed principally by sucking juices from the box elder tree, but are sometimes found on many other plants. In most cases, box elder bugs cause no major damage inside homes, but their droppings stain curtains and other resting sites. This bug also emits a foul odor when crushed. Adult box elder bugs will enter homes in the Fall, seeking winter shelter. They will over-winter in protected areas, often in wall voids or in attics. They will then emerge in the spring to seek out host trees on which to feed and lay eggs.

Q. Why are there black spots on the bottoms of my tomatoes?
A. They have blossom end rot, a condition that is neither bacterial nor viral. It is a physiological condition caused by several factors. The most determining factor is an uneven distribution of moisture in the soil. This often happens when we have had frequent wet weather followed by a dry spell. Tomatoes require a constant supply of water. Therefore, when we have a period of dry weather, you need to water your tomatoes frequently to prevent this uneven distribution. Drip irrigation is best, but often inconvenient and costly for a home garden. Mulching will help keep the ground damper longer during dry spells. It is also important to keep the pH in your garden above 6.3. Low pH soils lack the proper calcium needed to prevent this problem. Remember, DON’T GUESS…SOIL TEST. See also Fruit and Vegetable Diseases...

Q. What is the Asian Lady Beetle?
A. The Asian Lady Beetle, which was imported and released as early as 1916 in attempts to naturally control certain insect pests. But the first populations were not found in this country until 1988 in Louisiana near the busy port of New Orleans. Although they are a effective, natural control for harmful plant pests such as aphids, scale and other soft-bodied arthropods, they are now considered a pest by nearly any person whose house has been overrun by them in the spring and fall months. In order to PREVENT them, you can spray for them approximately two weeks before the first frost (generally around the end of September). However, once they are in your house, you can’t get rid of them unless you vacuum them up. When you vacuum them, it is important to empty your vacuum cleaner as soon as possible, otherwise, the smell will permeate it and spread throughout your house the next time you vacuum.

There are several commercial sprays available that can be used on the outside of your house that will help control them. You can find these sprays at your local farm supply or home supply stores. The size of the house and your ability to climb ladders may be factors in your decision to hire pest control specialists to do the spraying for you. See also Asian Lady Beetle...

Q. What is Creeping Charley?
A. This is a weed called Creeping Charley. Creeping Charley (Glechoma hederacea), also known as Ground Ivy and Cat’s Foot, is a low-growing perennial weed that thrives in moist, shady areas of the lawn and garden, but will invade sunny areas, too, if the lawn is thin. The four-sided stems grow to lengths of 15-30 inches with roots forming at the nodes, where leaves join the stem. Its leaves resemble those of the common geranium, round and scalloped, but are much smaller in size. In the early spring an abundance of tiny, lavender to blue flowers appear on 2 or 3-inch spikes. Try to maintain a healthy lawn by regular and proper mowing, watering, and fertilizing, and reducing shade when possible in excessively shady areas. These cultural steps will greatly contribute to a more weed-free lawn by encouraging thicker grass. (source: University of Minnesota Extension). For more information, see the Creeping Charley You Tube Video by the University of Illinois Extension.

Trade or brand names used in this publication are for educational purposes only. The use of such product names does not imply endorsement by WVU Extension to the exclusion of other products that may be equally suitable.

Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services does not imply endorsement by West Virginia University Extension nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your county Cooperative Extension agent.