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Showing posts from December, 2010

What Is Biting Me?

Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. Extension Entomologist

Photo 1: Bed bugs. Jeff Hahn.A common call that has been received recently has been from people that have been experiencing bites of an unknown source. It is challenging to correctly diagnose these problems. It is important to know that unknown bites can be the result of insects as well as non-insect causes. If it is an insect infestation, the most common causes are bed bugs and fleas.
Bed bugs have been on the increase over the last 10 or so years. Adult bed bugs are about 1/4 inch long, brown, and similar in size and shape to wood ticks; newly hatched bed bug nymphs are about 1/16th inch long or about the size of a pinhead. Bed bugs like to hide during the day and generally prefer to bite at night so it's possible to be bitten and not realize it. When looking for bed bugs, first check out bed rooms and other places where people sleep or rest. Other good areas to look are places where luggage is stored.
Bed bugs like to hide in cracks and …

Does climate affect the taste of apples? - Minnesota vs. Washington grown Honeycrisp Apples

Thaddeus McCamant

In November, the stores were running low on Minnesota Honeycrisp and started replenishing the shelves with Honeycrisp shipped from Washington. For a while, my local grocery store had Minnesota and Washington Honeycrisp in the same bin. At the time, a friend complained to me about some apples he had recently bought. "I don't even think they are Honeycrisp," he told me, "the store must be selling red Delicious."

Even before he brought me an apple, I told him that they were Honeycrisp, but they were raised in a low elevation area of Washington.

I always get a little defensive when people use Delicious as the ultimate example of a bad tasting apple. Some of the best apples I have ever eaten were Washington Delicious. Twenty years, ago, I worked with about thirty apple orchards along the Washington-Oregon border. Some orchards were planted in the true desert near the Columbia River, while others were high in the foothills of nearby mountains. W…

Hosta Virus X: New Information

Grace Anderson, MAg, UM Department of Plant Pathology
Hennepin County Master Gardener

Photo 1: Hosta 'Sum and Substance' infected with Hosta Virus X. Note the crinkled tissue between the leaf veins. Grace Anderson.HVX is a plant virus in the Potexvirus group first identified in 1996 by Dr. Ben Lockhart: Plant Virologist, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Minnesota. It is thought to be host specific and is not transmitted by traditional insect fungi or nematode vectors, or via seed or pollen. It is transmitted mechanically through wounds created during propagation or transplanting, or any time sap to sap contact is made through dividing or trimming plants. Vegetative propagation of infected plants, whether by tissue culture or division, will produce infected plants. Once a plant has HVX, there is no cure and it must be destroyed.

HVX reduces plant vigor and destroys foliage appearance through leaf distortion, color bleeding, and necrosis. Symptoms vary among cultiv…

What are your woody plants doing right now?

Karl Foord, UMN Extension Educator

Well, here we are in Minnesota where most parts of the state are sitting under several feet of snow. This led me to think about what was the state of my apple and maple trees.
The plants in our state are adapted to northern climates with harsh winters that are unfavorable to plant growth. One mechanism that these plants have adopted to survive involves a suspension of growth termed dormancy.

The bud that overwinters in an apple tree is a miniature shoot with apical meristem, leaf and perhaps flower primordial, and axillary buds enclosed by modified leaves termed bud scales. Bud scales protect the bud from mechanical injury, restrict gas exchange and prevent desiccation.

Preparation for winter and true dormancy
The buds are the photoperiod receptors and in preparation for winter undergo a series of physical and physiological changes triggered primarily by the shorter days of late summer. These short days (actually long nights) trigger the production of…

Calendar: January 1, 2011

Happy new year from the Yard and Garden News team!

Start the new gardening year by familiarizing yourself with the University of Minnesota Extension's source of reliable, localized information on the web. Visit Garden Info to learn about growing plants indoors, in flower or vegetable gardens, and in landscapes.

Keep holiday poinsettias in tip-top condition for months by placing them near a sunny window and rotating the pots a quarter-turn every few weeks. water the soil thoroughly whenever its surface feels slightly dry; don't wait until the leaves begin to wilt. Fertilize monthly at first, then every two or three weeks as the days grow longer in March. Always mix your fertilizer half strength to avoid problems.

Bring pots of amaryllis up from the basement to force them into bloom. Water them thoroughly, then put them in a sunny window. They usually bloom in six to eight weeks, depending on how warm you keep your home. Often, flower stems appear first, but don't be alarmed i…