Fall Defoliators and Fall Gardening
By John Fulton

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[August 11, 2016]  Fall Defoliators - Itís difficult to believe we are talking about fall already, but as we approach mid-August we start a different cycle in plant growth. Things are beginning to wind down,

Most fall defoliators come to us as the larval stage (caterpillars) of a moth. When we talk about controls of the larvae, the fact that they are larvae of moths or butterflies makes them susceptible to the use of B.t. products such as Thuricide. Other control options include the standbys such as Sevin, permethrin, bifenthrin, Othene, malathion, and others.

The way insects live also dictates some of the control doís and doníts. Fall webworms live inside a ďwebĒ all the time. They actually expand the webbing as they need to have more leaves to eat. They are usually worst on fruit and nut trees. You can even clip the nest (and the branch it is around) off the tree and burn it. I guess this tells you that defoliation caused by the insect isnít that great of a threat to the tree or you wouldnít cut the branch area off. If you want to spray fall webworms, you need to get the spray through the web. This may be a little harder than you think. If you donít have enough pressure, the spray just runs off the webbing.

In the case of Eastern tent caterpillars, they hatch out of a common nest. Another name for them is ďugly nest caterpillars.Ē They then leave the nest to feed, but generally return in the evening to congregate in the area of the nest. They are not covered by webbing, and the time they are congregated is a great time to spray since they are usually in one area on the trunk or main branches of trees.

In summary, control of fall defoliators isnít usually justified from the plantís standpoint. Add in the walnut caterpillars, various tussock moth larvae, and even the giant cecropia moth caterpillar, and there are quite a number of the defoliators. Forested areas have heavy pressure from this group of insects every year, and the trees are still thriving. The exception is newly transplanted or struggling plants. If appearances are important, consider a control spray.

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 Fall Gardening

Another fall topic to be covered in mid to late summer is fall gardening. The idea is to harvest in the fall, and that takes a little bit of planning, and planting, on your part. The fall garden planting season actually begins in June. Most of the dates are based on the ability to withstand frost, or not withstand frost. Since we are well past June, here are some of the things we can still plant in late summer for the fall harvest period Ė since they are in the frost tolerant category.

Letís start with the list for late summer planted crops. Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, cos lettuce, leaf lettuce, mustard greens, winter radishes and turnips are the group for late summer planting. This group is made up of frost tolerant plants which donít have a long life cycle. Examples of other frost tolerant vegetables which wonít have time to mature very well include cabbage, carrots, onions, and parsnips. They just wonít mature before we get a hard freeze Ė unless you are trying to get some green onions or turnip tops.

In about another month, we can plant some of the very hardy vegetables which would mature in time to use them. Some are in the late summer planting time, but most are in the early fall planting category. Here is the list: leaf lettuce, mustard greens, spring radishes, and spinach. Fall spinach is interesting, and it sometimes overwinters to begin an early harvest in the spring. Of course, you have to check carefully before tilling the garden. The other thing which puts spinach in this category is the fact the seed wonít even germinate if soil temperatures are too high. Local supplies of seed may be hard to find. That leaves having left over supplies from the spring or placing an order to your favorite seed supplier to have any type of fall garden.



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