Agriculture

Ask UConn Extension: Biodegradable Plastic Mulch

green head of lettuce growing on white biodegradable plastic mulch at Gresczyk Farms in New Hartford, Connecticut
Photo: Stacey Stearns

Farmers: Are you considering biodegradable plastic mulch (BDM) for your crops? Shuresh Ghimire, UConn Extension educator for vegetable crops, visits Bruce Gresczyk Jr. of Gresczyk Farms in New Hartford, Connecticut to discuss biodegradable plastic mulch (BDM), and the advantages and disadvantages of BDM for vegetable farmers: youtu.be/kyvB1QxHAtE

#AskUConnExtension

Fall is a Great Time to Plant Trees

Autumn is an ideal time to plant a tree is as the airtemperatures have cooled but the soil is still warm. Warm soil temperatures encourage root growth while decreasing light and day length signal the plant to stop producing top growth. Roots will continue to grow until the soil freezes and the tree enters dormancy. Growth will pick up again in spring as the plant continues to get established in its new location.

The mechanics of planting a tree are pretty standard: dig a hole, put the tree in the hole (root end down) and backfill the hole. Just how each step is done will determine the long term success of the tree’s survival. New trees may be sold as bare-root, container grown, or balled-and burlapped. Trees purchased through the mail typically arrive as a bare-root stock. Local garden centers and nurseries often sell smaller trees in a plastic container filled with a soilless mix. Balled-and-burlapped trees are larger, field-grown specimens. They are dug and the root-ball is wrapped in burlap, which is then tied around the base of the trunk. Sometimes balled-and burlapped trees also have a metalcage placed around the burlap to make transport easier and hold the root-ball together.

The planting hole should be dug only as deep as the root ball or bottom of container but two to three times as wide. Most trees do not grow taproots, but rather the majority of roots will grow in the top 12 to 18 inches of soil, spreading out in all directions. Planting depth is the most critical part of the planting process. Roots belong below ground and all bark should be above the soil line. Look at the tree to find the point where the bottom of the trunk flares out. This basal flare should always be exposed and not buried in the soil. More trees are killed each year by planting them too deep. Don’t let your new tree become one of them.

Before planting, remove the plant from the container and examine the roots. Loosen the roots slightly by gently pulling them apart. If the roots are circling the inside of the container, coax them apart and give them a trim. This will encourage them to leave the circular shape in which they were growing and enter the new surrounding ground. Bare-root trees should be placed atop a cone of soil mounded on the bottom of the planting hole before spreading out the roots.

Balled-and-burlapped trees must have all of the burlap, caging and twine removed for long-lived success. Today’s burlap is treated with chemicals to keep if from decomposing and lasts much longer in the soil than the old, untreated version. The burlap will restrict the roots from reaching into the surrounding soil. Twine can girdle the tree, eventually killing it. Root cages are made of metal and will take many decades to decompose. Roots can become girdled once they grow through the openings in the cage, effectively choking the tree after a decade or more. There is also the danger of broken and rusty metal poking up when working around the tree. Cut all packing material off, even if this has to be done after the tree is placed into the hole.

Loosen the soil in the hole and water well to prepare the hole for the placement of the tree. Adding compost or other organic matter is not needed. Limestone and phosphorus may be mixed with the backfill soil if determined necessary by a soil test. Set the tree’s basal flare slightly above the soil line to account for any settling. Back fill hole with existing soil. Create a ring or berm of soil about a foot away from the trunk to hold water and let it soak into the root area. Mulch can placed outside of the berm to retain moisture. Never place mulch against the bark or root of the bark can happen. Water again immediately after planting and then weekly, if no natural

precipitation occurs, for at least one year during fall, spring and winter to ensure a well-developed root system. Do not add water if the ground is frozen.

Staking plants is no longer a recommended practice as trees develop stronger trunks and root systems when allowed to sway and move with the wind. Trees can be fertilized once a year in the spring. If the tree is planted within a fertilized lawn, it will usually receive adequate nutrients from lawn fertilizer applications so additional sources of nutrients may not be needed.

– Carol Quish, UConn Home & Garden Education Center

Originally published by the UConn Home & Garden Education Center

Canine Circovirus in Connecticut, Identified by UConn Researchers

CVMDL vet lab blue sign on the UConn campus with the brick Chemistry building in the background
Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory on Jan. 14, 2019. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

Investigators at the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL) at UConn recently reported a new canine disease, identified for the first time in New England. This is the same group, same laboratory, that recently reported eastern equine encephalomyelitis in horses and birds and earlier recognized epizootic hemorrhagic disease in deer (September 2017) and West Nile encephalitis in crows (2001).

The published case report (Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, September 2019) documents the death of a 5-month-old dog that originated in Mississippi, was shelter-housed in Texas for a time, and then was delivered for adoption in Connecticut. The disease was characterized by severe bloody gastroenteritis and rapid progression to death. Autopsy was followed by electron microscopy and molecular techniques which demonstrated a circovirus as the cause of disease and death. First recognized in California in 2013, the appearance of canine circovirus disease in New England, in dogs shuttled among shelters, raises concerns for dog owners and veterinarians.  At this time, it is hard to know if this disease will spread, like parvovirus disease in the 1980s, or remain sporadic.

CVMDL, part of the Department of Pathobiology in UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, is on the frontlines of research and testing to keep humans and animals safe. For more information visit http://cvmdl.uconn.edu or call 860-486-3738.

Article by Dr. H. J. Van Kruiningen

UConn Beef Auction – Nov. 3rd

black cow
beef steer

The UConn Beef Auction will be held this year on Sunday, November 3 at the Cattle Resource Unit (heifer barn) located on Horsebarn Hill Road, Storrs campus.

The auction will be held at UConn’s Storrs Campus at the UConn Cattle Resource Unit (Heifer Barn) located on Horsebarn Hill Road. The event is free and open to the general public. Preview of animals begins at 10 a.m.; auction will be held at 12:00 noon; donuts/coffee and pizza will be available for purchase. Please contact Mary Margaret Cole, Executive Program Director, UConn Livestock Units at Mary_Margaret.Cole@uconn.edu with any questions. Please visit http://animalscience.uconn.edu/join.php to join the email list if you would like to receive a digital copy of the animal sale list. Approximately 25 UConn animals are expected to be auctioned and may include Angus and Hereford heifers, steers, bulls and pregnant cows. The auction does not accept consignments. A list of UConn animals to be sold as well as pedigrees are posted on our website at s.uconn.edu/beefauction.

Have your Soil Tested for Macro & Micro Nutrients

cup of soil being held in Soil Nutrient analysis lab at UConn

Send your soil sample in for testing now. Our standard nutrient analysis includes pH, macro- and micro nutrients, a lead scan and as long as we know what you are growing, the results will contain limestone and fertilizer recommendations. The cost is $12/sample. You are welcome to come to the lab with your ‘one cup of soil’ but most people are content to simply place their sample in a zippered bag and mail it in. For details on submitting a sample, go to UConn Soil and Nutrient Laboratory.

Information About EEE from CVMDL at UConn

mosquito biting a person
2003
CDC/James Gathany
Photographer: James Gathany
This is an Ochlerotatus triseriatus mosquito obtaining a blood meal from a human hand.
Also known as Aedes triseriatus, and commonly known as the ”treehole mosquito”, this species is a known West Nile Virus vector.
Photo by James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is a disease caused by a virus that mosquitos transmit. The name of the disease is misleading in that this virus can infect and cause disease in humans and a wide variety of animal species, including birds as well as horses and other equids. Horses that have not been vaccinated for EEE die within days of being infected as there is no treatment. There is an effective equine vaccine for EEE, however not for other species. Researchers and veterinarians UConn’s Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL) encourage equine owners to consider vaccinating their animals, and other animal owners to implement measures to reduce mosquito habitats and thereby potential contact with mosquitos.

Mosquitos that feed on infected wild birds transmit EEE to horses and humans. Once infected, the virus attacks the central nervous system of the host. For horses, disease signs usually appear within five days and the clinical signs include fever, a dull or sleepy appearance, muscle twitches, and a weak staggering gait. Fatality in horses is 90% or higher as horses often go down and are unable to stand again, and those that do survive may have permanent brain damage.

EEE is transmitted by two main types of mosquito vectors; the primary vector and the bridging vector. Culiseta melanura, the primary vector which feeds almost exclusively on birds, serves to amplify and maintain the virus within wild bird populations. Other mosquito species, which indiscriminatingly feed on birds, horses, and humans, serve as the bridging vector capable of transmitting EEE from wildlife to horses and humans.

With the location of horse barns and pastures in rural areas the animals have increased exposure to mosquitos. Horses cannot pass EEE to humans, or to other horses, and are therefore referred to as a dead-end host. If an infected mosquito bites a human, that person can be infected and may develop disease. According to the Center for Disease Control, illness in humans due to EEE is rare, but when disease develops, it is serious.

Proactive steps can be taken to prevent EEE virus infection in humans and horses. A vaccine is available for horses, talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating annually for EEE. Mosquito control techniques include eliminating standing water, cleaning water troughs weekly, avoiding mosquito-infested areas, and using insect repellent.

CVMDL, part of the Department of Pathobiology in UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, is on the frontlines of research and testing to keep humans and animals safe. For more information visit http://cvmdl.uconn.edu or call 860-486-3738.

 

Reference

LSU Ag Center Research and Extension: http://www.lmca.us/PDF/pub2834eee.pdf

Fall Updates from UConn Extension

food, health and sustainability venn diagram

UConn Extension is pleased to share the following updates with you:

  • An update on the strategic planning process for the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, as well as internal re-organization of Extension program teams.
  • Our UConn CLEAR program worked with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on a sea level rise model map viewer, and a webinar is being offered on October 16th.
  • UConn Extension, and our Connecticut Trail Census program will be at the Connecticut Trails Symposium on Thursday, October 24th at Goodwin College in East Hartford.
  • We have two part-time positions open at the Hartford County Extension Center in Farmington. Applications are due by Thursday, October 3rd.
  • We are growing food and health with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in Ledyard through a USDA-NIFA grant.

Read all of our updates.

10 Tips for the October Gardener

  1. Dig and store tender bulbs, corms, rhizomes, and tubers in a cool, dark, place.
  2. Remove plant debris from the flowerbeds. Bag any diseased plant parts and put it in the trash or take it to a landfill but do not compost.
  3. Take a scenic drive to observe the changing fall foliage. The CT DEEP has fall foliage driving routes for Connecticut.
  4. Rosemary is not hardy in most areas of Connecticut. Bring plants in before temperatures drop too low but check plants thoroughly for insects such as mealybugs. Rinse the foliage, remove the top layer of the soil surface, and wipe down containers.
  5. Squash and pumpkins should be harvested when they have bright color and a thick, hard skin. These vegetables will be
    butternut squash stacked on a table at a farm stand in Connecticut
    Butternut squash. Photo: Stacey Stearns

    abundant in farmer’s markets and will make a colorful and healthy addition to fall dinners.

  6. As tomatoes end their production cut down plants and pick up any debris and put in the trash or take to a landfill. Many diseases will over-winter on old infected leaves and stems, so these are best removed from the property.
  7. Remove, bag and trash any Gypsy moth, Bagworm, or Eastern tent caterpillar egg masses or spray them with a commercial horticultural oil to smother them.
  8. Cold-hardy fruit trees including Honeycrisp and Cortland apples, Reliance peach, Superior plum, most pawpaws and American persimmon can still be planted into October. Continue to water until the ground freezes hard.
  9. Outwit hungry squirrels and chipmunks by planting bulbs in established groundcovers.
  10. Drain garden hoses and store in a shed, garage, or basement for the winter. Turn off all outside faucets at the inside shut-off valve, turn on the outside faucet to drain any water left in them, and then shut them off.

For more October gardening tips, visit the Home and Garden Education Center resources, or one of our nine Extension Master Gardener offices statewide.

Article: UConn Home and Garden Education Center

Job Openings

Extension banner

Join us! We have two part-time positions open, both located in our Hartford County Extension Center in Farmington. We are seeking a part-time program aide, and a part-time Extension eLearning developer. Apply online at https://hr.uconn.edu/jobs/ – click on staff, and search Job IDs 2020125 and 2020126.

Sheep Shearing School

sheepThe Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association Inc. in conjunction with the UConn Extension are again offering a one-day shearing school.
 
Saturday, October 26, 2019
UConn Beef Barn (Livestock Unit 1)
Horsebarn Hill Road
8am-4:30pm
 
This program is offered for those individuals who have a strong interest in learning how to shear sheep and have a basic understanding of sheep husbandry and handling. As sheep shearing is a physically demanding skill, it is highly recommended that you be able to perform a squat and touch your toes without discomfort and hold for an extended amount of time.
 
Class is limited to 12 students
Preregistration is required: Deadline for registration is October 7
 
CSBA members and UConn student: $20.00
All others: $40.00
Audit course: $10.00
Send: Name, address, email and phone # along with registration fee payable to CSBA to:
Natalie Cohen, Secretary
36 Broad Brook Road
Ellington, CT 06029
 
Instructor: Matt Best
Equipment: provided
Outline:
8am-classroom, introductions, registration, waivers, brief overview of the day.
8:30am-classroom, first principal of shearing, know the equipment. Shears, combs and cutters, shearing area, etc, Q and A.
10:30am- Laboratory, Handling sheep. Catching, proper position, leg work, shearing pattern. Second principal, know the pattern.
Lunch (plenty of places to choose from!)
Shearing, Third principal, know the contour of the animal.
Close: 4:30pm
Questions?  hillviewdorpers@gmail.com or 860-819-8339