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[MARCH 28, 2005]
One of the main things to
discuss today is the removal of nuisance fruit. You may be thinking
about those apples or peaches, but really the nuisance fruit
category includes things that are much more a nuisance, like sweet
gum balls, maple seeds and crab apples. I used this topic a few
years ago in a column and then there was a product shortage locally,
but I think that has been taken care of.
There are several products available to
eliminate nuisance fruit. The most common is ethephon, and it is
used as a foliar spray to reduce or eliminate undesirable fruit or
seeds. Some of the trade names include Florel and Ethrel. The
product is effective at eliminating much of the fruit without
affecting leaf growth and color, and it does not harm other plants
that get some spray drift on them. It also does not affect the
actual flowering of the treated trees.
With ethephon, the key is in the
timing. The application must be made during flowering but before the
fruit set in. For most flowering trees there is a 10-14-day window
of opportunity. Sweet gums are a little tricky since there are no
showy flowers involved, so effective sprays should occur just as new
leaves begin to emerge. Sprays should leave leaves wet, but not to
the point of dripping. Good coverage of the tree is needed, so keep
in mind the size of the tree when you are weighing this option.
This product is a growth regulator
that naturally occurs. Its natural production is stimulated by
stress, so make sure you aren't treating a tree that is under stress
from drought, high temperatures, diseases or other environmental
stresses. Treating stressed trees can cause severe injury to the
plant, such as leaf loss or scorching.
Pest season comes again
With some warmer days come some of
the many nuisance pests. Over the years, we have battled many
nuisance pests, such as boxelder bugs, elm leaf beetles and
crickets. None of them compare to the multicolored Asian lady
beetle. These ladybugs are everywhere, and they'll find a way inside
the home whenever we get warm spells.
top of second column in this article]
Right now they alternate between
resting and sunning. These are the beetles that overwintered as
adults and are looking for a place to stay and something to eat. The
place to stay is on the side of something in the sun (in order to
warm up) and the something to eat is soft-bodied insects such as
aphids. Without aphids present, these ladybugs will chew on about
The best control in the home is a
vacuum cleaner. If you have numbers too large for that control, area
sprays of an aerosol flying insect killer will knock down the ones
it hits. If you are terribly bothered, try a perimeter spray of the
foundation, door areas and window areas on the home with a pesticide
that will last for a while. Color test the material on siding first,
and hope for the best. The pesticides are effective, but they are
sometimes overwhelmed by the number of ladybugs that you are trying
to control. Permethrin is probably the most commonly used pesticide
for perimeter sprays.
several other items to keep track of this time of year, if you're so
inclined. Following is a brief list:
- Finish lawn seedings quickly --
normal cutoff date is April 1.
- Aerate or dethatch lawns by April
- (Grub control is ineffective in
- Uncover strawberry plants as you
notice yellow leaves.
- Start your own transplants about
six weeks before you need them ready.
- Get that mower ready for use.
- Apply crabgrass preventer when
Fulton, unit leader,
University of Illinois Extension,
Logan County Unit]