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Friday, November 17, 2017

From the MDA: Update on Palmer amaranth

Reprinted from Minnesota Noxious Weeds - Palmer Amaranth

Palmer amaranth plant in western MinnesotaIn September 2016, Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) was initially discovered and confirmed in Minnesota. To date, isolated populations have been documented in first year conservation plantings in Yellow Medicine, Lyon, Douglas and Todd Counties. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), University of Minnesota Extension, USDA, landowners and other partners are working to eradicate these infestations before they can spread to new areas.  Efforts to this point have been very successful.  MDA is also working closely with other state, county and federal agencies, the MN Native Seed Industry and several non-profit organizations to regularly sample and test seed sold in the state for presence of Palmer amaranth.

Why the concern? 

Palmer amaranth is a fast growing weed native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, and has spread east and north through a variety of pathways including contaminated seed, hay, livestock feed and agricultural equipment. It has developed resistance to multiple classes of herbicides and their different modes of action, making it very difficult and expensive to control. Palmer amaranth is a prolific seed producer. Up to 250,000 seeds can come from one plant. It is also highly competitive.

It has a fast growth rate of 2- 3 inches per day and commonly reaches heights of 6- 8 feet, greatly inhibiting crop growth. Reported yield losses have been up to 91% in corn and 79% in soybean in some states. The weed can also significantly increase production costs for corn, soybean, and other crops. 
Arrest the Pest icon, report sightings by emailing arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us or call 888-545-6684Read  more about Palmer amaranth on the MN Department of Agriculture webpage

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Pollinator-friendly landscape? Share on Instagram!

Do you have a pollinator-friendly landscape? Did you see a plethora of honeybees, native bees, flies, butterflies and other pollinators in your yard and garden this past summer? Share pictures of your landscape with other pollinator enthusiasts on Instagram @flowers4pollinators

Not sure how your yard and garden measure up for pollinators? Take the survey "How Pollinator-friendly is your landscape?" and find out!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

MDA Weed of the Month: Oriental bittersweet

By Emilie Justen, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, 11/07/2017

https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/MNMDA/2017/11/07/file_attachments/909460/OB%2Bfruit.jpg
Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)

November’s Weed of the Month, Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), is a woody vine with colorful red fruit. It was brought to North America from the Asia and used as an ornamental plant. The attractive vines have been used for wreath decorations and in floral decorations; unfortunately, the plant has escaped cultivation and has become invasive in residential and natural areas in Minnesota.

Oriental bittersweet spreads by several means. The persistent red fruit is consumed by birds, which spread the seed to uninfested areas. People trained to look for Oriental bittersweet may look for places where birds perch. The areas beneath the perches may have Oriental bittersweet seedlings, juvenile vines, or mature woody vines and would be a place to target control efforts. Humans also spread Oriental bittersweet infestations by physically moving the plants. Oriental bittersweet was commonly propagated and sold in Minnesota through nurseries and retail garden centers before 2010. Its use in floral arrangements and wreaths also increased its spread.

Despite its ornamental characteristics, Oriental bittersweet is an ecological threat to forests, grasslands, and parks in Minnesota. The vines twine around trees, girdling them in a snake-like fashion. Though it prefers forest edges and sunlight, Oriental bittersweet can grow in forest understories, eventually reaching forest canopies, shading the trees and understory and preventing native plant species from flourishing. Infestations can become so thick that wildlife, such as deer, can have difficulty navigating through wooded areas filled with Oriental bittersweet.

Read more how you can help ....  MDA Weed of the Month

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

30th Anniversary highlights ornamental grasses trend for low-maintenance gardens

By Gail Hudson, Horticulture Extension Communications Specialist

As summer flowers fade and the leaves turn fall colors in Minnesota, many varieties of ornamental grasses are at their majestic peak and in full flower.  They stand from 3 feet to as much as 12 feet in height (although some are shorter), as vibrant kings of the perennial garden with their jaunty, yet graceful looks. Ornamental grasses have not only become key components in the driving trend toward sustainable and low-maintenance landscapes, but their strong vertical lines offer living sculpture in today’s native gardening mix.

 Mary Meyer, U of M Extension Educator
“Today there’s a real interest in native grasses and using native cultivars in the garden,” said Mary Meyer, the University of Minnesota Extension professor and educator who maintains the only collection of ornamental grasses accredited by the American Public Garden Association in the U.S. “We went from having exotics from the non-natives and huge numbers of Miscanthus [in the collection] to more and more North American native species. And really the grasses that are native in the prairie.”

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

From our Turf blog: November is the time to dormant seed

November dormant seeding helps promote
a healthy lawn next spring.
By Sam Bauer, Turf Extension Educator

The optimal lawn seeding window is mid-August to mid-September. If you missed that time frame, but you still want to seed this fall, my recommendation is to wait until November to seed. This practice is called dormant seeding and is certainly an effective way to introduce new species and/or varieties of turf into your existing lawn.

By far our most popular post on this site has been the one on this topic, so we are re-posting an article originally published on November 1, 2013.

If you are considering dormant seeding, read on to start planning for November: There’s Still Time to Dormant Seed Your Lawn.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Maple tar spot strikes again

M. Grabowski, UMN Extension Educator
Tar spot may look different on different
species of maple. M. Grabowski, UMN

For the second summer in a row, tar spot, a fungal leaf spot disease is showing up in large numbers. Tar spot causes large black raised spots on leaves. Black spots are often shinny and look like wet tar. Although the symptoms of tar spot are most dramatic in the fall, the fungus actually infects the leaves early in spring when wet weather coincides with spore release. The fungus can only infect leaves, and will survive Minnesota’s winter in fallen leaves within leaf spots.


M. Grabowski, UMN Extension
Tar spot is not a serious threat to the health of the tree. The leaf spots may cause leaves to drop a bit early but not early enough to do significant harm. Gardeners interested in reducing problems with tar spot in the following year should rake up leaves and place them in a back yard or municipal compost pile.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Prepare for boxelder bugs

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

Boxelder bugs are starting to congregate around the outside of buildings. Take action now if you wish to minimize problems with them later, especially if you have had a problem with them in the past. Although boxelder bugs are just a nuisance, they can potentially enter homes in large numbers. People can see them in their homes not only in the fall, but also during the winter and early spring.
Watch out for boxelder bugs trying to get into your home. 
Photo: Jeff Hahn, University of Minnesota Extension

It is not effective to spray the boxelder bugs found in the landscape. Adults have wings and can easily fly onto your property from adjacent areas. It is much more effective to take steps to help prevent boxelder bugs from entering a home to begin with.

There are two basic ways for dealing with boxelder bugs (and other insects, like lady beetles) that try come into your home seeking sheltered areas for the winter: sealing cracks and spaces and timely insecticide sprays. These are steps you can take yourself or hire a professional to do for you.

For more information on boxelder bugs, including control, see Boxelder bugs.
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