Drought Causes Hay Shortage

Home and garden briefs

September 15, 1991

The Cooperative Extension Service University of Maryland System is warning horse owners of a shortage of hay due to the current drought.

The price of good quality alfalfa hay, one of the primary feeds for horses, is rising, and cheaper, lower-quality hay with a higher percentage of added concentrates may have to be used as a substitute.

Backyard horse owners should consider locking in a price now fromhay growers, and building extra storage for hay.

BEWARE NITRATE-POISONED PLANTS

Nitrate-poisoned forage feed plants, including corn, may be the result of the drought currently besieging the county.

Drought conditions immediately after pollination usually cause the highest accumulation of nitrates in corn plants, according to the Cooperative Extension Service University of Maryland System. The heaviest concentration is typically found in the bottom third of each stalk.

Resumption of normal plant growth after a heavy rainfall will reduce the accumulation considerably, and the Cooperative Extension advises corn growers to delay harvests until three or four days after a heavyrain.

LATE SUMMER GARDENING TIPS

The Cooperative Extension Service University of Maryland System offers the following tips on late summer gardening:

* Blossom end rot, the blackening and rotting of the bottom of tomatoes, is caused by uneven soil moisture and/or lack of calcium. To ensure even soil moisture, incorporate organic materials into the soil and mulch the surface. A mulch of shredded paper, salt straw, landscape fabric or grass clippings (only if the grass has not been treated with weed killers) can be used. If you suspect your soil is calcium deficient, spray the plants to run-off with two ouncesof calcium chloride mixed with three gallons water.

* Scales: several varieties of scales hatched in June and need immediate treatment. Euonymus, white peach and white Prunicola scale can be sprayed in early September with a 2 percent rate of horticultural oil summer spray, Orthene or Dursban. Scale also can be treated with dormant oil, which smothers the wintering scale eggs after the plant has gone dormant for the winter.

* The adult Japanese beetle emerged in mid-summer and will feed until late fall, when it lays eggs in the soil. The adult attacks roses and other ornamentals, fruits and vegetables. The eggs hatch 10 to 12 days after laying, and the grubs feed on grass roots. Adults can be controlled by use of companion planting using chrysanthemums, gladiolus and phlox, Sevin or by picking them up and dropping them in a bucket of soapy water. Grubs can be controlled by treating the lawn area with Oftenol or granular diazinon or use of milky spore for a more environmentally-friendly approach.

* Tomato plants often suffer from early blight this time of year. Blight appears asbrown leaf spots, which progress from the bottom of the plant upwards. The older leaves will yellow and drop. Mulching will help eliminate the initial infection, but no chemical control is available.

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