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Can I eat that strange looking squash?

What does it mean when squash and melons have scabs, rings, and sunken spots?
The long awaited harvest of melons and winter squash has arrived in Minnesota. Many gardeners are surprised to find sunken spots, rings, unusual color patterns, or raised corky scabs on the fruit. What caused all of these unusual spots and can the fruit be eaten?
Fruit spots can be caused by a number of different factors including fungal and viral plant pathogens. Melons, cucumbers, winter squash, and summer squash are all in the same plant family, the Cucurbitaceae. As a result, these crops often suffer from the same plant disease problems. Although many of the vine crops share disease problems, how severe the disease problem becomes varies by crop and by variety. Below are a few common disease problems found on melons and squash at harvest in Minnesota. Mosaic viruses Several different mosaic viruses can infect squash and melon in Minnesota. Viruses may be spread by insects like aphids or cucumber beetle…
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A second life for Ash trees hit by the Emerald Ash Borer

What are the consequences of the invasion by the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) insect? The numbers are indeed staggering. We have a billion ash trees in Minnesota--many of them in our yards and gardens.  And once the invasive insect, the Emerald Ash Borer infests a stand of trees, experts say to expect a mortality rate of 100 percent.

Now University of Minnesota researchers are studying ways to make this storm cloud have a silver lining.  They are studying innovative ways to use that wood for good.

Read this article to learn more:
By Emily Dombeck, University of MN Extension Forestry Program Coordinator

It’s hard to avoid hearing about the emerald ash borer (EAB) and its effects on ash tree populations. Since it was first discovered in Minnesota in 2009, the beetle has continued to spread across our landscape, and the effects of the invasive insect are devastating: EAB attacks and kills nearly all ash trees greater than 1” in diameter.
I spoke with Extension forestry educator Angela Gupta to …

Foreign grain beetles are harmless

Very small, brown insects have been found in buildings during August and September. Foreign grain beetles, Ahasverus advena are especially found around sources of moisture, such as sinks, basins, and bathtubs.

How do you identify them? Foreign grain beetles are about 1/12 inch long and reddish brown. Under high magnification, you can distinguish this beetle from other small beetles by a pair of peg-like projections behind their head.

Because of their small size, foreign grain beetles are sometimes confused with fruit flies. While foreign grain beetles readily fly, they are hard-shelled (fruit flies are soft-bodied) and fold their wings out of sight when they land.

These insects have also been confused with bed bugs.  Because of the increase in bed bug problems, people have been sensitive to small insects they can not identify. Once these insects are examined closely, you can see the shape between these insects is different and that foreign grain beetles have wing covers, which be…

Emerald ash borer found in Wright County

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced today that emerald ash borer (EAB) has been found for the first time in Wright County. The infested trees are located on highway 24 at the Travel Plaza just of off I-94 which is about 15 miles south of St. Cloud. 
Quarantine in effectAn emergency quarantine has been enacted to reduce the risk of further spreading this invasive insect.

EAB was first found in Minnesota in 2009.With this finding, there are now 17 Minnesota counties that have discovered EAB.Nationally, this invasive insect was found in 2002 and is now found in 36 states. Where is EAB in MN? Although Wright County is directly adjacent to Hennepin County, the nearest known EAB infestation is about 40 miles away in Champlin. On their own, EAB can only travel a mile or two each year. For EAB to reach Clearwater, it was undoubtedly transported in infested ash wood, like firewood.
How can we stop the infestation? MDA reminds us that there are three easy steps we can take t…

Fall cleanup: Key to reducing risk for next year's plant diseases

Cool weather is a reminder that fall is not far away and soon gardeners will be preparing the landscape for winter. Many plant pathogens are able to survive winter in gardens in infected leaves, flowers, branches, and fruit. Gardeners can reduce the risk of plant disease next year by using the following steps to do a thorough fall garden clean up.
Trees and shrubs Examine leaves before they change color for evidence of a leaf spot disease. Leaf spots come in many colors, are randomly scattered across the leaf surface, and often are more severe on the lower and inner leaves. They will be easiest to identify when the leaves are green.If a leaf spot disease is found, leaves should be raked up and removed or mulched into the lawn with a mulching lawn mower after normal leaf fall. Look for branches with wilting or dead leaves. Discolored, cracked or blistered bark on these branches could indicate the presence of a canker infection on the branch. A large tumor like growth on the branch woul…

Fun Facts about Your First Kiss (Apple)

Well, not your first kiss exactly, but your first, "First Kiss®"!  It's the name of the new commercial apple introduced to Minnesotans by the University of Minnesota.

Here's the beauty of this scarlet red beauty: First Kiss® tastes like Honeycrisp, but, lucky for the fans of this popular apple, it is ready to harvest earlier. 
What's the story?This variety has been in the works since the late 1990s when UMN apple breeders David Bedford and Jim Luby set out to develop an apple that would be ready to pick and eat by Labor Day weekend.

After two decades of rigorous trials to evaluate hundreds of crosses and thousands of trees at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's Horticultural Research Center, First Kiss emerged as a clear winner. And with it, David Bedford says, "we got the best of both worlds!" 
Can I buy these apples?The new apple is available this fall (you can try one at the State Fair) but supply will be limited. As the trees mature and bear frui…

Podcast: How much do we know about Japanese beetles?

Many gardeners reading this article have either seen or dealt with Japanese beetles this season. Their population levels were high, and they could frequently be spotted enjoying the foliage of entire trees before moving on to the next palatable plant nearby.

As I have traveled the state to talk to gardeners and farmers, Japanese beetles were one of the most common questions I received. Many gardeners had stories and innovative ideas they have tried to control this invasive insect.

In response to this, I sat down with Jeff Hahn and Dominique Ebbenga in the University of Minnesota entomology department to get the scoop on what we currently know about Japanese beetles. In this recorded interview, Jeff and Dominique laid out what researchers have found, and where future efforts are going.

Some of the questions we discussed were:
Can you plant any flowers to ward off JB?
When might growers use nematodes to control JB grubs? Is it worth it?
Why do we advise against using traps for JB control?