Don't give up on peaches

BACKYARD Q&A

control brown rot early

April 01, 2001

Q. Every year my peaches are ruined by brown rot disease. I spray Captan when I first begin to see signs of the problem but it doesn't seem to help. Should I just give up on peaches?

A. Don't give up. Brown rot is a serious problem on all the stone fruits. The answer is to control the fungus early in spring. Spray a labeled fungicide when blooms first begin to open and again when they are almost all open. Apply fungicides every 10-14 days thereafter until 2 weeks before harvest. In addition to Captan, there is a new fungicide with the brand name Immunox that is labeled for home orchards. Micro-fine sulfur is an organic fungicide that can be applied but will not be as effective. It's very important to discard infected fruit from the ground and infected fruit that shrivels and hangs on the tree. Call the number below to order a copy of EB 125, Maryland Home Fruit Production Guide.

Q. I planted some different kinds of liriope last spring to border my front walkway. It's getting overgrown and ratty in appearance. Will I weaken it by removing the foliage? How do I divide and replant it so that it doesn't grow into my walkway?

A. Liriope is a very tough plant. You can cut it back at any time and not weaken the plant. This is a good time to divide and replant. Simply cut back the foliage to 4 inches above ground level. Then drive a garden spade through the middle of each clump to divide them. You may want to replant the divisions a little further from the edge of your walkway. Give your extras to a neighbor or friend.

Q. I have three trees on the side of my house that appear to have a disease or insect problem. The bark just hangs from the branches in shreds. Nothing like this has ever happened before and I'm afraid I may lose these trees. What could be wrong?

A. Squirrels have been gnawing and removing the bark. They use it for nest building, and will eat it if no other foods are available. They tend to concentrate on smaller diameter branches, rather than large ones. Prune out the damaged branches. Even if the squirrels return to the same trees, they are not likely to cause serious damage.

THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST

1. Knock down and destroy the silken webs of the eastern tent caterpillar from the crotches of cherry and crabapple trees. Infested branches can also be pruned out.

2. Work compost into vegetable and flower beds and apply a 1-inch layer to perennial beds.

3. Regrade beds next to your house to ensure that water flows away from your house.

Backyard Q&A is by Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist for the Home and Garden Information Center, Maryland Cooperative Extension Services of the University of Maryland. For additional information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507, or visit its Web site at www.agnr.umd.edu / users / hgic.

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