Spring Gardening News

The following Agriculture & Natural Resources articles originally printed in the 2018 Spring edition of the Oldham County Extension Newsletter.

Two Problem Weeds – Control Them Now

Poison hemlock and Buttercup are two problem weeds that can be controlled in March with herbicide sprays. An herbicide containing 2,4-D as the active ingredient is usually the most economical spray choice that will give good control.

Poison hemlock can be found in pastures, hay fields, and on roadsides. It has a biennial life cycle, meaning each plant lives for two years. This weed spreads by producing many seeds. While mowing can prevent seed formation and spread of this weed, the plant is toxic to livestock. So care should be taken to control it in pastures and hay fields. The poison hemlock in this photo was growing around an old tree stump, adjacent to a hay field. Spraying this patch now will save headaches down the road.

Buttercup is a problem mostly in overgrazed pastures. There are several types of buttercup in Kentucky, and leaf shapes may look different than what’s pictured here. Buttercup is also toxic to livestock. Best control is achieved when sprayed before these plants begin blooming, which is tricky since these may go unnoticed until flowering. Scouting pastures by walking diagonally or zigzagging through each will give a good overview of what’s growing.

When it comes to toxic plants, it’s important to note that animals usually don’t choose to graze these unless they are limited on good forages. But sometimes they don’t read the book and may graze on these plants out of curiosity.

The UK Weeds page is a great resource for more information, including videos and weed identification guides: weedscience.ca.uky.edu/forages

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Training Has Changed

Kentucky Extension agents are in the process of being certified to teach the new ‘Produce Best Practices Training‘ which replaces GAP training for vegetable and fruit growers.

Note that video training is no longer available. Any producer needing this training must attend a live presentation, given by a certified trainer. If you completed GAP training in the past, your diploma is valid until January 1, 2019.

Please help spread the word to fellow growers. Check the new Kentucky Farmers Market manual online for details. At time of print, there are currently two trainings scheduled here and nearby. Call (502) 222-9453 to register or to get information on other sessions in other counties.

  • Oldham County Extension Office March 10, 9:00 a.m.
  • Shelby County Extension Office April 12, 9:00 a.m.

Interesting Insect Pests

A client recently sent this photo for identification. While cultivating the soil in his vegetable high tunnel, he found these insect pupae about four inches deep in the ground. University of Kentucky Entomology confirmed that these are the pupal stage of the tomato hornworm.

garden pest tomato hornworm

There are typically two or three generations of this pest each year, with the final generation overwintering in the soil and emerging as a moth in spring. The adult stage of this pest belongs to the insect family often called Sphinx or Hawk Moths. This family also includes the unusual hummingbird moth.

During the caterpillar stage, the tomato hornworm feeds on tomato plants and fruits and can cause substantial yield loss. Tips for controlling hornworms and other garden pests are included online in the UK Home Vegetable Gardening Guide. Print copies of this guide are available at the office.

Photos of the caterpillar and moth stage of the tomato hornworm are available online at UK Entomology or by searching ‘Kentucky Critter Files.’

Written by Traci Missun, Oldham County Ag Agent.

One thought on “Spring Gardening News

  1. Pingback: Upcoming Oldham County Events | Oldham County Cooperative Extension Blog

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