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Gardener News

Proudly Serving the Agricultural, Gardening, Landscaping & Nursery Communities

August 2021


TAKE ONE No. 220

Does Your Vinca Flower Look Like This?

Tom Castronovo/Photo

As I drove around the great Garden State delivering the July Gardener News, I noticed annual vinca flower leaves turning yellow in quite a few counties. Annual vinca flowers are a popular Several thoughts came to mind. The first thought was they were choice for corporate and home planted way too early in the spring. landscapes in hot, sunny locations. Vinca plants perform best in warm Unlike perennial vinca, which prefers weather and don’t tolerate chilly weather. shade, annual vincas bloom only one season. I’ve always been told to hold off planting

By Tom Castronovo Executive Editor/Publisher Gardener News

vinca until early summer when the days are consistently warm. Vinca plants also perform best in dry weather. This spring and early summer, we had a large range of environmental factors in the landscape. Vinca plants are hardy and tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions. I know it is important that their planting site is well drained. Soil that is excessively moist

may cause a yellowing vinca plant. While a yellowing vinca plant does not necessarily indicate disease, it is possible. After seeing multiple locations with the same yellowing, I thought I should reach out to a few of my greenhouse grower friends for some consultation. The first grower told me that vincas don’t grow well in (Cont. on Page 10)

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Around The Garden By Tom Castronovo Gardener News

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Farm Fresh. What a Way to Spend a Day! I really enjoyed spending a day on a farm. Several times a year I head out to Melick’s Town Farm in Oldwick, Hunterdon County, N.J. This farm has a special meaning because Pete Melick, who is a featured columnist for the Gardener News, is a co-owner of the farm along with his brother, John, and his sister Rebecca. These siblings are 10th-generation farmers with support from their parents, George and Norma. What a great family. They have traced the family tree back to the period between 1725 and 1735, when Johan Peter Moelich arrived in the area with his two brothers. I met Pete at the Oldwick Farm Market location at 170 Oldwick Road. The market was loaded with farm fresh fruits and vegetables, plants, shrubs, and an extensive selection of country store favorites like jellies and jams. I picked up a new Jersey Fresh t-shirt for myself. Pete led me over to his grey pickup truck. He told me to hop in. My excitement level rose as he drove off into the cut flower fields. There were perfectly manicured rows of ageratum, celosia, dahlias, snapdragons, statice, and sunflowers. He uses these for cut flower bouquets in his farm stands. As we drove through the farm field, we passed high tunnels on the right. They were full of tomato plants just turning red. He told me that tomatoes in high tunnels mature about two weeks ahead of the open field-grown plants. At the bottom of the field, his farm hands were harvesting cucumbers. We made the turn to head back passing the fieldgrown tomatoes and basil plants. I could just taste it. A fresh tomato slice with a few basil leaves topped with olive oil. Yum! Before he drove down the street to another one of his farm fields, he showed me where his fully picked-out strawberry field was earlier in the season. Right across the street from the Oldwick Farm Market is the Oldwick Firehouse, where he is a volunteer member and a past chief. We made a left and followed his dad, George, in his red pickup truck for a short distance. He went left as we slightly went right passing through apple trees. Melick’s Town Farm is the largest apple grower in New Jersey, with over 30,000 apple trees. Pete pointed out the different varieties as we slowly made our way through. Next up were cherry trees that had just finished producing fruit. I asked him why they were fenced in and in high tunnels. He said it was to protect them from birds and deer. He made a sharp right and asked me if I wanted to see something cool. I said yes, of course. We drove

a short distance along the high tunnel to the end. Without warning he stopped at the end and said, “Get out.” He walked over the end of the tunnel, opened the fence and said, come in. I was amazed. There was freshly harvested garlic lining the ground in between the cherry trees. I asked him why. He told me after it was harvested, he allowed it to sit outside during the rain to wash the dirt off it. He uses the covered high tunnels to protect it and the heat of the tunnels helps dry it out quicker. He then reached down and handed me a fresh clove. The aroma was teasing my taste buds. We were back in his truck passing plumb and peach trees that were ripe for the picking as we headed up to the top of his mountain. All along the ridge were grape vines. He pointed out the baby grapes on the neatly trained mountain top vineyard. I asked him why the grapes were planted at the top of his farm. He said the mountain top gets a lot of sun and it has good air circulation. Pete continued to tell me the location helps manage insect and other problems. The view from the top of the farm is breathtaking. I could see the whole farm and beyond. There are rolling hillsides, old church steeples and outbuildings. I felt like I was up in the clouds. In my mind, I was. It was almost lunchtime. We were both hungry. The next stop was the Tewksbury Inn. The restaurant sits right behind the Melick family’s Cider Mill on King Street. As we drove off the farm, we followed Pete’s son on a tractor for a short distance. He was headed off to the corn field. It was nice to get into the air conditioning again. It was one of the 90-plus degree days with ugly humidity. Lunch was delicious and relaxing. Just as we finished, Pete’s fire pager went off. It was a car fire just up the street. We were off to the firehouse. I hopped out of his truck as he headed into the firehouse. I walked across the street back to his farm stand to retrieve my SUV. As I drove off, the volunteers were arriving. Pete was in the engine’s driver’s seat waiting for a crew. As I approached the traffic light down the street from the firehouse, I saw Pete’s son again. He was driving the tractor toward the firehouse. I learned afterward that he is also a volunteer firefighter. I was a volunteer firefighter for over 25 years. The brotherhood lasts forever. And, farmers are the greatest. Thanks for another fun-filled day, Pete. You have a great family. Jersey Fresh all the way!!!

Editor’s Note: Tom Castronovo is executive editor and publisher of Gardener News. Tom’s lifelong interest in gardening and passion for agriculture, environmental stewardship, gardening and landscaping, led to the founding of the Gardener News, which germinated in April 2003 and continues to bloom today. He is also dedicated to providing inspiration, and education to the agricultural, gardening, landscaping and nursery communities through this newspaper and

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4 August 2021

Working with farmers, I get amazing insights into the routines of their world and the complex, delicate, daring, and challenging aspects of the tasks they perform daily. Think of your garden and the struggles you encounter to benefit from its existence. Those of you who garden (I hope that is everyone reading Gardener News) know a plot of roses or peonies, a patch of pumpkins, or a plot of tomatoes requires lots of preparation and tending for a respectable outcome. Now, on a much grander scale, there is the amount of thought, energy, and time it takes to make a living in agriculture, to provide for your family, and to take care of society’s basic need for nourishment and enjoyment. Every crop has special requirements that must be catered to for the desired results. That’s one of the amazing things about New Jersey farmers. They grow hundreds of crops in any number of varieties that thrive here in the Garden State, as well as farmers who are tending livestock that provide meat, milk, and other agricultural products. Every year, I visit a number of farms and get an up-close view of new techniques and products that make up New Jersey’s diverse agriculture. With recent

AeroFarms in Newark. An allindoor operation epitomizing “vertical agriculture,” AeroFarms uses LED lighting and other high-tech approaches to grow, year-round, a variety of greens and other fruits and vegetables that are highly sought after by the food trades around the country. Visiting New Jersey farms and getting to see what makes them unique and fascinating is one of the highlights of my job. Helping them thrive is among the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my professional career. And when you buy from a New Jersey farmer’s production, you are helping in a big way, too.

NJ Dept. of Agriculture By Douglas H. Fisher Secretary of Agriculture

Visiting New Jersey farms is invigorating

years’ limitations on visits due to the pandemic, it was especially gratifying to get back to visiting more farms recently. One of those inspiring visits was to Spring Run Dairy in Hunterdon County, in earlyJune, to kick off National Dairy Month. Spring Run features its own creamery and is now selling Jersey Fresh milk. Dairy farming is especially challenging in a state like New Jersey, with limited options for selling into large, nearby commercial milk processors. One way the NJDA has been trying to help that sector is to encourage more on-farm processing and the creation of Jersey Fresh-labeled milk and milk products. One such farm is Spring Run Dairy, owned and operated by Dan Lyness. He farms 250 acres and started this operation eight

years ago, opening the on-farm creamery and bottling facility earlier this year, and selling its Jersey Fresh Cream Line Whole Milk brand at the farm’s market on weekends. June is also the Month of the Horse in New Jersey, where the horse is the official State Animal and equine activities add an estimated $3.2 billion annually to the state’s economy. Accordingly, we visited the Halka farm in Monmouth County. Chet and Bonnie Halka have long been involved in the equine industry. Bonnie is skilled in dressage, competing nationally and internationally for the past 13 years. Chet is accomplished in Combined Driver Competitions, which feature a carriage being driven as it is being pulled by one or more horses. The Halkas are owners of Halka Nurseries, including

a location in Millstone. Chet Halka is also on the Board of Trustees for the Horse Park of New Jersey and has served on Monmouth County Agricultural Development Board. Of course, the produce sector is intricately linked to the Garden State. Another visit took us to Katona Farms in Burlington County. First established as Rolling Acres in 1950 by Walt and Betty Katona, it later became Katona Farms and is now in its third generation. Along with asparagus, the farm grows sweet corn, market tomatoes, and watermelon for direct-to-consumer sale. They also sell vegetables wholesale and have a grain operation that includes wheat for grain and straw, soybeans, corn, hay, and rye for straw. More recently, I visited with an operation that fascinates me,

Editor’s Note: Douglas H. Fisher is New Jersey’s Secretary of Agriculture. He is the department’s executive officer, secretary to the State Board of Agriculture and a member of the Governor’s cabinet. Secretary Fisher fulfills executive, management and administrative duties prescribed by law, executive order or gubernatorial direction. He can be reached at 609.292.3976. For more info, please visit: http://

USDA AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE NEWS The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $17 of economic impact.

Four Nutrients in Flower Pollens Improve Honey Bee Gut Health For the first time, four nutritional compounds found in different flowers have been directly proven to enhance gut health of honey bees, boosting their immune system and increasing lifespan, based on a study by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service scientists. “We found that feeding caffeine, kaempferol, p-coumaric acid or gallic acid—all nutritional compounds found in the nectar and pollen of various flowers—improved the abundance and diversity of bacteria in the honey bees’ gut,” explained entomologist Arathi Seshadri. She is with the ARS Invasive Species and Pollinator Health Research Unit in Davis, California. Seshadri chose these four nutrients to test because they are naturally present in flowers favored by honey bees, and they had already

been shown to improve honey bee lifespan and tolerance to a common pathogen, Nosema ceranae. Caffeine, for instance, also has been shown by researchers to make bees better learners and improve their memory of rewarding floral scent and nectar quality. This study is the next step in more specifically defining how some nutrients in flower pollen can help bees by showing a connection through improving the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is the total amount and species of all the microorganisms and all of their collective genetic material present in the gut. “The beneficial impact of these nutrients, found in a wide variety of flowers, has implications for healthier hive management through designing better dietary supplements. It also reemphasizes

the need for flowering habitats that can provide bees with access to a rich diversity of pollen and nectar sources,” Seshadri said. While the mechanism is not known for how these four nutrients enhance honey bees’ gut microbiome, p-coumaric acid has been suggested by other researchers to alter gut microbiome diversity by increasing the activity of honey bees’ immunity genes. This perturbs the growth of pathogens acquired while foraging. Example flower sources for these nutrients include: caffeine: citrus and coffee; gallic acid: mint, raspberry, sunflowers and apples; kaempferol: petunias, asters, canola and poppies; and p-coumaric acid: buckwheat, roses, and clover. While caffeine had the single greatest impact, all the four nutrients resulted in the increase in abundance

of Commensalibacter, Snodgrassella and Bombella bacteria, all of which are considered important core bacteria for a healthy honey bee gut. Changes in the honey bees’ microbiome were seen immediately, just three days after they received the supplements. The growth spurt in the gut microbiome reached a plateau by six days after supplementing the diet with each of the floral nutrients and the levels reset to the original baseline levels when supplements were discontinued. “This fast response shows how much of an impact manipulating honey bees’ diet may have on their microbiome and reiterates the need for diverse flowering plants that can provide bees with ready access to these nutrients,” Seshadri said. The study was published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.

August 2021 5

6 August 2021

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Rutgers Cooperative Extension Phone Directory Atlantic County Phone: 609-625-0056 Bergen County Phone: 201-336-6780 Burlington County Phone: 609-265-5050 Camden County Phone: 856 216 7130 Cape May County Phone: 609-465-5115 Cumberland County Phone: 856-451-2800 Essex County Phone: 973-228-2210 Gloucester County Phone: 856-224-8040 Hudson County Phone: 201-915-1399 Hunterdon County Phone: 908-788-1339 Mercer County Phone: 609-989-6830

Middlesex County Phone: 732-398-5260 Monmouth County Phone: 732-431-7260 Morris County Phone: 973-285-8300 Ocean County Phone:732-349-1246 Passaic County Phone: 973-305-5740 Salem County Phone: 856-769-0090 Somerset County Phone: 908-526-6293 Sussex County Phone: 973-948-3040 Union County Phone: 908-654-9854 Warren County Phone: 908-475-6505

From the Director’s Desk

Rutgers Outreach Provided by Brian Schilling Director

Recognizing the Common Wood Borers of Ash Trees It is understandable for arborists, landscapers, and homeowners to assume that emerald ash borers (Agrilus planipennis) are the cause when they observe branch dieback and decline of ash trees (Fraxinus genus). During the 21st century, this invasive Asian tree borer beetle has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees as it spread across much of the eastern half of the United States. Although emerald ash borer will eventually find and kill most unprotected ash trees, other common ash borer species may infest some of the trees first. This article will discuss the symptoms to distinguish between the emerald ash borer beetle, the ash/lilac clearwing moth borer (Podosesia syringae), the banded ash clearwing moth borer (Podosesia aureocincta) and ash bark beetle borers (Hylesinus species). Only the ash bark beetle species will have more than a single generation per season. The symptoms for an infested ash tree with emerald ash borers (EAB) are well known and have been documented extensively in the literature during the past 15-plus years. They include the following: 1) blonding or flecking of the trunk and major branches by woodpeckers; 2) branch dieback and thinning of upper tree canopy; 3) capital D-shaped exit holes in the trunk and branches; 4) epicormic twig growth emerging at trunk base and major branches; and 5) vertical splitting of bark where extensive shallow serpentine mining by EAB larvae has occurred. Short of identifying active larvae, if most of the above symptoms are observed, this usually confirms EAB as the cause of the ash decline. Confirming the presence of other species of wood borer infestations is not difficult. Arborists and landscapers should be familiar with the two clear-winged moth species that commonly attack ash. They are the previously referenced banded ash clearwing moth and the ash/lilac clearwing moth. Both borer species will cause some of the same symptoms seen from emerald ash borers. Like EAB, these clearwing moth borers (CWM) will cause upper crown thinning, which may eventually result in the death of major branches. The symptoms often produce a “staghorn” type appearance of the tree canopy. Multiple dead branches may be seen sticking out above the leaf canopy. Other than uncovering bark and identifying larvae, the easiest way to determine the identity of the species is by observing the size and shape

of borer emergence holes in the trunk and branches. EAB exit holes will have a capital D-shape, with a diameter of approximately three millimeters, or one-eight of an inch. During the first two or more years, most of the exit holes will be found in the upper tree canopy branches. As the infestation advances, emergence holes can be seen in the trunk. Since ash trees have deeply furrowed bark, it is difficult to find these exit holes. The best way to find them is often to examine the smooth, lighter flecking areas created by woodpeckers. The emergence holes created by both CWM will be more oval shape and about twice the diameter size (six millimeters a quarter-inch) compared to the EAB exit holes. Furthermore, these holes will be concentrated within the lower main trunk of the trees, with fewer found in the scaffold branches. Also, unlike EAB, the clearwing moth tunneling larvae will expel sawdust-like frass from trunk openings they create. This frass can be observed down the trunk and can also accumulate at the bottom of the tree. As CWM adults exit the tree, they will push their pupal skins out of the holes and these skins may be seen extruding from the trunk. These pupal skins are ephemeral and will break apart easily. The lilac/ash clearwing borer adults emerge in the spring (May), while the banded ash clearwing adults emerge in late summer (September). There are two species of ash bark beetles (Hylesinus species) in the northeastern United States and the symptoms they produce on infested ash trees (green and white spp.) are distinct from the other borers previously discussed. Ash bark beetles infest stressed trees and concentrate activity within lower branches, although they can also be found in the trunk. Ash trees experiencing infestations by ash bark beetles can typically maintain a relatively healthyappearing upper crown but show symptoms of numerous dead or dying lower branches. Adult ash bark beetles will cut egg galleries across the grain perpendicular to the branches one inch in diameter or less. These branches are girdled and that can cause them to easily break off the trees two or more years later. After egg laying, dozens of hatched larvae will tunnel at right angles away from their galleries along the grain of the branch. When ash bark beetle adults emerge from the tree, they create numerous round exit holes (less than two millimeters) in the wood.

Editor’s Note: This month’s contribution was written by Steven K. Rettke, Agriculture & Natural Resources Program Associate, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Monmouth County.


August 2021 7

Coreopsis – The Preferred Name for a Preferred Plant The common names of plants are invariably the names we prefer since it is in a language that makes sense and is easy to recall. The biggest challenge they pose is the lack of consistency, as the names often vary from one location to another. In addition, sometimes the name simply does not embody much appeal. For example, Tickseed is the accepted common name for the genus Coreopsis. Coreopsis is a wonderful genus of gardenworthy plants, yet having a common name associated with a feared insect can drive gardeners in search of alternatives. Coreopsis is a member of the Asteraceae or Sunflower family, with 75 to 80 species stretching from North America south into Mexico and South America. The genus name was crafted by Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) in 1753 from the Greek Koris, meaning “bug” and Opsis, meaning “like.” Yes, even the botanical name references an insect, but

fortunately most gardeners do not understand Greek. The botanical and common names stem from the loose resemblance of the seed to that of an insect or tick. Coreopsis verticillata, the Whirled Tickseed has proven to be a long-lived species that spreads slowly via a rhizomatous root system to form a respectable groundcover. This species is predominantly found in dry, open woodlands from Maryland south to Georgia. The plants consist of closely spaced, slender upright stems reaching two to three feet tall that are clothed with very narrow, oppositely arranged foliage. In fact, each leaf is actually divided into three narrow leaflets, each approximately one-eighth-inch wide by two to three inches long, giving the plant a fine textured appearance. The stems are crowned by clusters of two-inch golden yellow flowers, opening from late June through early September. The most popular cultivar is most likely “Moonbeam,” a cross of unknown parentage that sporadically appeared in nurseries

during the 1950s or earlier. It was brought to light by Léonie Bell in the 1960s when she shared the plant with Donald Allen of Sky-Cleft Gardens. Together, they named it “Moonbeam” in honor of the pale yellow flowers produced from June through September. It produces a beautiful mounding habit to 18 inches, which, combined with the unique flower color and length of bloom, make it a garden winner. Another outstanding selection is “Zagreb.” It was introduced in 1997, oddly enough from the University of Zagreb in Croatia. It is a very compact plant, growing to one foot tall and slowly spreading to three feet in diameter, making it a very effective and dense groundcover. The one- to two-inch diameter flowers are bright yellow, with slightly darker central florets. Both selections flourish best in full sun and gritty soils that drain well, especially during the winter. In fact, overly fertile soils will often shorten the lifespan of “Moonbeam” to one season. Coreopsis tripteris is a far taller species and in my opinion,

Bruce Crawford Receives National Garden Club Award

Bruce launched his career after graduation at Rutgers by starting Garden Architecture, a landscape design business. His business began integrating interesting and lesser-known plants that provided yearround interest and created a pallet of plant material that was distinctly fresh and low maintenance. Bruce began consulting on more public garden venues. His talent caught the eye of local garden clubs in New Jersey, and he began receiving requests to be a guest speaker at their meetings. His work was ultimately noticed by the Department of Landscape Architecture at Rutgers University, where he became a guest lecturer teaching courses in Herbaceous Plants and Public Gardens Management. In 2005, Bruce became director of Rutgers Gardens. It was here that he was able to develop an “outdoor classroom” where Rutgers students, gardeners, school children and the public could learn about plants, gardening, and the environment. “Having the gate open to youth is a tremendous achievement. These are our future gardeners,” stated Diane Genco, executive director of the Rutgers Gardens Advisory Board. In 2020, Rutgers appointed Bruce to the new position of State of New Jersey Program Leader for Home and Public Horticulture. By combining his innovative gardening ideas, knowledge of horticulture, and advocacy for sustainability with his desire to share and educate, Bruce Crawford has made those who encounter him better gardeners who are aware of the impacts of their gardening decisions and their ability to create a more environmentally friendly world. “Bruce has been a steadfast teacher and his enthusiasm is contagious. He never forgets to serve the community and lend his expertise in horticulture to anyone who calls. In my mind, He is Mr. Garden State,” declared Laura J. Lawson, interim executive dean at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers. “As I suspect everyone already knows, I am rarely without words or a comment to be made,” said Crawford. “ However, I was very happily shocked and surprised when I opened the note from Donna Rouch and discovered I had received the Award of Excellence from the National Garden Clubs. I am very humbled and honored that everyone felt my efforts have in some way made an impact worthy of a National Award. To everyone, thank you. After a rather unusual year, I should note how this award has given me the inspiration to enhance my efforts to continue to share what little I know with more audiences of all ages.” About National Garden Clubs, Inc. National Garden Clubs, Inc. currently has over 5000 local clubs, with 145,000 members, and over 330 international affiliates. The organization provides education, resources, and national networking opportunities for its members to promote the love of gardening, floral design, civic, and environmental responsibility. Learn more about National Garden Clubs, Inc. The Award of Excellence is the highest award of National Garden Clubs, Inc. presented to a nonmember. It may be awarded to an individual, organization, or institution that has made a significant contribution toward the advancement of goals and purposes of National Garden Clubs, Inc.

far too little seen in gardens. Commonly called Tall Tickseed based on its three- to eight-feet tall stature, this species grows naturally in moist meadows and along streams. Unlike its cousins, the flowers are sweetly scented and the foliage often assumes attractive red and auburn fall colors. The plants are native from Florida west to Texas, north to Ontario and Quebec. Named by Linnaeus in 1753, the species epithet is a mix of the Latin Tri, for “three,” and Pterus, for “wing” or “feather.” It refers to the appearance of the foliage, which is divided into three narrow leaflets of up to five inches long and three-quarter inches wide, loosely resembling feathers. The one-and-a-half to two-inch diameter flowers appear from late July well into September, with clear yellow outer ray florets and reddish-brown central disc florets. The plants appreciate moisture retentive soils in full sun and effectively provide seasonal screening with a wonderful bonus of fragrant flowers. There are obviously many

more species and cultivars for gardeners to consider. However, the selections and species described herein will provide a variety of heights, textures, and even fragrance that allow the summertime garden to come alive. Yes, the common name may not conjure up images of beauty, but Coreopsis is indeed a plant of great beauty and merit for the garden. Editor’s Note: Bruce Crawford is a lover of plants since birth, is the Rutgers State Program Leader for Home and Public Horticulture, a part time lecturer in Landscape Architecture at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, regularly participates in the Rutgers Office of Continuing Professional Education Program, and Past President of the Garden State Gardens Consortium. He can be reached at crawford@njaes.

In Memoriam: Rich Obal, Former Monmouth County Agricultural Agent Richard G. Obal, 73, originally from Sayreville, NJ, passed away on June 30. He was the agricultural and natural resources agent for Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Monmouth County for 34 years, before retiring in 2011. Early in his career he worked at his family’s nursery operation. Obal received a bachelor’s degree in biology and physiology from C. W. Post College and a master’s in horticulture from Rutgers University. During the early 1970’s he managed Obal Garden Center and Nursery in Princeton and Turner Brothers Nursery in West Long Branch. In 1977, he took the position of county agricultural and resource management agent in Monmouth County and in 1993, also served as the county Cooperative Extension department head. During this time, Obal established many important regional education programs in nursery, greenhouse, landscape and turf management. He implemented the county Master Gardener program in 1999. Obal provided key assistance in the development of the NJAES Cream Ridge Station as a state-wide research and demonstration facility for ornamental plants. Over his 34-year career with Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Obal educated thousands of homeowners, farmers, nursery owners, landscapers and residents. He trained municipal, county, state and federal employees and was an advisor for the County Board of Agriculture and the curriculum committee of Brookdale Community College. Obal received numerous awards throughout his career including the Blue Ribbon Award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, the Distinguished Service Award and Achievement Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents, the James T. Howard Team Award from the Monmouth County Water Resources Association and the Outstanding Professional Conservationist Award from the NJ Association of Conservation Districts.

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Increasing Tree and Shrub Survival by Avoiding a Few Common Mistakes It’s important to remember that proper tree care starts when you select a tree. And what you do to your tree in its first few years of life will affect its shape, strength, and even its lifespan. Proper placement of trees and shrubs is critical for your enjoyment and their long-term survival. Before planting your tree or shrub, consider the tree’s ultimate size. When the plant nears maturity, will it be too near your house or other structures? Troy Lipani, co-owner of Central Jersey Nurseries in Hillsborough, Somerset County, N.J., proudly displays a new sign that will hang inside his garden center, reminding his customers how to properly install plant material. Lipani says the biggest cause of tree and shrub death and decline that he sees on landscape sites is that have been planted too deep. Plants need drainage and oxygen to survive. “Plant it High, it won’t die,” and “Plant it Low, it won’t grow” is a mantra to which everyone installing plant material should adhere. In most cases, plants should be installed with the root collar at least three to four inches above grade. Installing your plants with a quarter of the root ball above grade is another good rule of thumb. Sometimes the root collar is actually buried in the root ball. If this is the case, it’s important to carefully remove the soil from the top of the root ball to expose the root collar to determine the correct planting depth. Dig a hole twice as wide as, and slightly shallower than, the root ball. Roughen the sides and bottom of the hole with a pick or shovel so that roots can penetrate the soil. Lipani also said not to place more than one inch of mulch directly over the root ball on newly planted trees and shrubs. Piling mulch against the bark should also be avoided to Tom Castronovo/Photo prevent decay. When you read this article, I wonder if it will be as hot, dry and humid as it is today in many parts of the country. The excessive heat and drought is going to affect the grass seed industry yields during harvest time this summer. The strong demand in the last year has also impacted grass seed supplies and market prices. What’s going on? Starting in spring 2020 at the height of Covid-19 scare, we were not sure if people would be seeding their lawns as much as normal years. What we found out is that everyone seemed to be working on their lawn and other home improvement projects and the grass seed industry sold a lot more grass seed. The majority of the world’s supply of grass seed comes from the Pacific Northwest states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Grass seed is harvested only one time a year during summer months. However, there are many factors that come into play that affect the farmers grass seed yields of pounds of seed per acre. We’ve certainly had some hot weather streaks and as August goes, we expect a few more. Many of us have irrigation systems and others like to handwater their properties, but how much do you know about the generally accepted practices of watering your lawn, flowers, plants, trees and vegetables? Properly watering your property will help your plants and turf thrive and keep out disease, fungus and other unwanted pests. But before you are even thinking about the water, if you are having new plants installed, try to plant similar watering types together. Those that need less water versus more water. And do you know what type of soil you have? If it’s sandy, you will need more water versus a loam or clay, which retain water longer. Now that we’ve got the right plants in the right place, let’s discuss the basics. Watering should be performed in the early morning before 10 a.m. This will allow plants and grass to absorb the water before heat and wind are a factor. Watering during the day can evaporate too quickly. Watering in the evening is not ideal, as it can

August 2021 9 Turf ‘s Up By Todd Pretz Professional Turf Consultant

The State of the Grass Seed Industry The fall season needs to supply enough rain to allow the grass seed production fields to grow and become established before winter cold sets in. An application of fertilizer and weed control are generally used in the fall. The growing regions prefer a healthy dose of snow, which also provides much needed moisture for the grass plants to growth vigorously. Spring weather also affects the grass seed crops. Another application of fertilizer and weed control takes place and sometimes fungicides are needed. Enough spring moisture is the key to allow proper pollination from late spring to early summer and then the seed heads form and harvest takes place in late June

and early July. There was so much grass seed sold in the last year that the industry actually ran out of seed waiting for this summer’s harvest. Annual and Perennial Ryegrasses sold out, as did most fine fescues. Shortages were realized in Kentucky Bluegrass and Tall Fescues markets, as well, due to overall worldwide demand for grass seed. The Oregon Grass Seed Bargaining Association met in late June to negotiate the agreed upon minimum contract price for Perennial Ryegrass and Tall Fescues under the supervision of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Needless to say, the price of grass seed is going to be higher this fall and into

next spring, perhaps 20- to 30-percent higher due to the demand and lack of carryover supply. Remember, you cannot increase the supply of grass seed until next summer’s harvest. While the grass seed growers in the northwest are going to plant more grass seed acres this fall, it still may take a year or two for supply to catch up to demand. The grass seed acres available to plant are affected by other crops. Market prices and demands for various food commodities such as radishes, hops, and other grains are way up in price, so the grass seed marketers are competing for their acres to be planted too. It’s all about the yield per acre and the dollar return

Editor’s Note: Todd Pretz is Vice President of Jonathan Green, a leading supplier of lawn and garden products in the northeast. For more information, please visit:

won’t see those sprinklers during a downpour. There is nothing worse than seeing someone’s sprinkler system going full blast during a rain event! Not only is it By Gail Woolcott a waste of water, but it is not good for the plants and turf at all. Executive Director Smart Irrigation Systems can also be installed to recognize moisture sensors installed in your turf, so it knows exactly when to water. Your irrigation water through its roots and you’re recommends a good watering professional will also be able to not causing fungus or disease on one to two times per week. program your timer to water the the plant. An obvious example Note that container plantings proper amounts. of this is to look at peonies or often need more watering as they Stay cool and “See You in fall mums and what happens to dry out faster than those planted September!” them after a heavy rainfall. The in the ground. I have found that flowers quickly turn brown and those water globes really do work Editor’s Note: Gail Woolcott die off. in keeping your container plants is the Executive Director for Make sure you are not healthy, but if you don’t want the New Jersey Landscape overwatering your plants. to buy them, you can recycle Contractors Association. Sometimes when we see a plant water bottles. Just take the bottle, She was presented with a with brown or yellow leaves, we remove the cap, cut a hole in the community service award from think it’s thirsty. Sometimes it is bottom. Stick the neck in the soil, the Borough of Fairview for because the plant has received then fill it through the bottom her assistance in leading the too much water. Stick your finger hole and it should act in a similar 9-11 Memorial Park project in the soil and see if it is dry manner as the store-bought and the Legislative Champion before watering. globes. Why not have your kids of the Year award from the Dr. James Murphy of Rutgers decorate them so they look nice Federation of Employers and Workers of America. She is states, “A healthy durable in your container plantings? lawn that can withstand minor Finally, have a professional currently the State Licensee drought is achieved by watering irrigation system installed and Chair on the National thoroughly, but as infrequently as take out the guesswork. New Association of Landscape possible.” In his best management Jersey requires rain sensors on Professionals International practices papers, Dr. Murphy all new irrigation systems, so we Certification Council.

The NJLCA Today

To Water or Not?

keep the soil too wet. You should be watering an established lawn one to oneand-a-half inches per week. Established trees and shrubs should get one to one-and-a-half inches per seven to 14 days and flowers and vegetables 1one to one-and-a-half inches per week. Of course, this does depend on the plants’ watering needs, but the above are basic guidelines. Test your soil moisture to see what works best. There are several easy ways to do this, just do an internet search for “DIY soil moisture test.” One thing to note is that if your grass is newly installed, you want to water it at least twice a day. When watering plants, make sure to water at the base of the plant and not the flowers/leaves. This ensures the plant is getting

to the farmer per acre. If radishes or canola are paying more per acre to the farmer than growing grass seed, the placement of new grass seed acres will be more difficult to come by and potentially more expensive. How is your lawn looking right now? Will it survive the summer weather and still look good going into the fall? Start to evaluate if you think you need to do some re-seeding this fall. Don’t wait until late fall, start your seeding project in the next few weeks. Utilize the warm months of September through November to grow a great lawn. Wait on applying fertilizer until it cools down in early September. Warm days and cool nights are coming. Good luck with your lawn. Go to the beach one more time!

10 August 2021 As the heat of the summer becomes a regular daily occurrence in the garden, summer annuals and tropicals really start to take hold and start to grow exponentially with luxuriant growth. Every year, I try many new species and cultivars in the garden, but also most years I have some of my favorites and undoubtedly will add them if I can find them at the local garden center. One of the “best of the best” is the red Abyssinian banana, Ensete ventricosum “Maurellii.” This fast-growing banana has skyward facing, large, tropical leaves that are green on the surface and dark red on the undersides, with the mid-rib of the leaf being an even darker red. At the end of the summer, I always overwinter a couple dormant specimens in my basement and bring them out the subsequent May and plant in them in the garden. These one-year-old plants can reach close to 12 feet tall by the end of the summer. I also buy young plants that might only be two feet tall when I purchase them, but even these will reach eight to 10 feet tall by the end of the summer. Ensetes are great additions to the annual border, augmenting the perennial beds or used in large containers. Another favorite banana is Musa “Thai Pennsylvania Horticultural Society By Andrew Bunting Vice President of Public Horticulture

Summer Color Favorites

Black.” This is harder to find at the garden center, but worth the hunt if you can find it. It has a very upright habit with green leaves and stunning violet-black stems. Naranjilla, Solanum quitoense is a native to Ecuador and Colombia and the fruits, while related to potatoes, have a tropical flavor described as a blend between lime and rhubarb. I grow this summer annual for its amazing large, velvety leaves that have purple hairs that adorn the stems and leaf petioles. Protruding through the surface of the leaves are these amazing deep-purple spines. Because of all the spines, grooming of yellowing leaves can be a bit of a chore and will require gloves. From a small plant, it can reach up to four feet tall in a growing season. The fruits turn bright orange and when ripe can be harvested and the seed collected and then germinated for future seasons. A great South African

flowering plant are the bulbines. They have slender, succulent leaves and an abundance of wand-like flowers that keep sending up flowering stems throughout the summer. Because of their narrow foliage and flowering stems, I love to use them in containers or windowboxes. Bulbine frutescens “Tiny Tangerine” and “Hallmark” have bright orange flowers, while the “yellow form” has bright yellow flowers. Because of the succulent leaves, it would also make a great addition to summer plantings at the New Jersey shore. The flowering salvias have gone through an amazing renaissance and there are so many new series and cultivars on the market these days that bloom all summer long and literally until Halloween. The Rockin® series has a myriad of colors. Rockin® Fuchsia has black calyces and bright magenta flowers.

Rockin® Deep Purple can reach 40 inches tall and has deep violet flowers. All salvias are one of the best attracters of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The Salvia Wish Collection® has many selections with long, tubular flowers. Of all the new series, this one performs the best for me in my garden. “Wendy’s Wish” was one of the first introductions with magenta-pink flowers. Other great selections have followed, including “Amber Wish” with coral-orange flowers. “Wishes and Kisses” has pink flowers and “Love and Wishes” has deep purple flowers. The Salvia Skyscraper™ series is yet another exceptional series that produces an amazing abundance of flowers throughout the summer. Some of the best include Skyscraper™ Orange Salvia, which also has coral-orange flowers. Skyskraper™ Pink Salvia has clear pink flowers. While it has been on the market for a

while Salvia “Purple Majesty” is a favorite for its larger stature and the profusion of deep blackpurple flowers. There are so many great annuals and tropicals that can be used to adorn the summer landscape, and most of them will also continue to the first frost. Editor’s Note: Andrew Bunting is Vice President of Public Horticulture for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. He is one of the most recognized horticulturists in the Philadelphia, Pa., region and a highly regarded colleague in the world of professional horticulture. Bunting has amassed a plethora of awards, including the American Public Gardens Association Professional Citation, Chanticleer Scholarship in Professional Development, Delaware Center for Horticulture’s Marion Marsh Award, and the Certificate of Merit from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. In addition, Bunting has lectured extensively throughout North America and Europe, and participated in plant expeditions throughout Asia and Africa. Learn more at andrew-bunting

Does Your Vinca Flower Look Like This? soggy soil, and wet, humid conditions often promote diseases that may cause yellowing to black leaves. Various types of root rot and stem rot may cause discolored leaves, often followed by stunted growth, wilting and eventual plant death. Too much rain can also contribute to fungal diseases that cause lesions on the leaves, followed by discoloring and leaf drop. This answer made a lot of sense with all the wet weather we’ve had. The second and third growers spoke about fertilization and soil pH. I learned that vincas with yellowing leaves are often reacting to a lack of iron, which is a common problem in alkaline soil. A lack of nitrogen in the soil can also cause yellowing leaves. Use of a fertilizer containing nitrogen, iron, and sulfur helps to replace the nutrients while balancing the pH like an 18-6-18. Vinca performs best in acidic soil with a pH of 5.4 to 5.8. An alkaline soil with a pH above 6.0 may cause the leaves to turn yellow. A soil test, available at most garden centers or a Cooperative Extension office, can determine the pH of the soil. If the numbers are too high, incorporating several inches

(Continued from page 1) of peat moss or other organic material into the soil at planting time is one way to lower the pH. I also learned about mulch. Sour or acid mulch can quickly damage plant tissue and lower the soil pH, causing injury or death. Bedding plants and low-growing woody plants are most easily damaged. Symptoms include yellowing of the leaf margins, scorching or dropping of leaves and occasionally entire plant death. Although it may be several days before symptoms appear, spreading sour mulch can damage plants immediately. Sour or acid mulch is caused by poor handling or storing of mulch, resulting in anaerobic conditions. Mulch piles need to breathe to prevent anaerobic conditions from occurring. In the absence of air, microbes in the mulch (mostly bacteria) produce toxic substances, such as methanol, acetic acid, ammonia gas, and hydrogen sulfide gas. Sour mulch smells like ammonia, sulfur, or vinegar. Good mulch smells like freshly cut wood or has the earthy smell of a good garden soil. Another way to determine if mulch is sour is to test its pH. Toxic mulch will have a pH of 1.8 to 2.5.

I hope this information helps to correct the problem for this year. This fall would be a great time to have the soil tested and amended for next year’s planting. I learned a lot by having conversations with the folks who actually grow vinca flowers for us, the consumers. Vinca flower is one of my summer favorites because they are available in a range of shades including, white, pinks, red, purple, and lavender. And they don’t require deadheading. Deer seem to stay away from them as well. Editor’s Note: Tom Castronovo is executive editor and publisher of Gardener News. Tom’s lifelong interest in gardening and passion for agriculture, environmental stewardship, gardening and landscaping, led to the founding of the Gardener News, which germinated in April 2003 and continues to bloom today. He is also dedicated to providing inspiration, and education to the agricultural, gardening, landscaping and nursery communities through this newspaper and

August 2021 11 TM

Introducing the The New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association and the NJLCA Education Fund are excited to announce that we are back in person! On October 1st and 2nd of this year, we will be holding a two-day trade show/demo days/in-person event for all to attend! This event will be like no other in the entire northeast, which is why we have named this new and exciting event, the Northeast Green Industry Showcase! The Northeast Green Industry Showcase is so much more than a trade show. So, what is different? • Outdoors – Booth space will be available in open air pavilions and on a grass concourse. • Demo space – All equipment vendors will be provided with an equal amount of demo area space to match their booth space for attendees to try out equipment. • Live music – There will be a live band on Saturday (don’t worry, it will be far enough away from the booths for you to have normal conversations). • Food trucks – Instead of the usual concession stand fare, this event will host several food options from multiple food truck vendors. • Location – The Hunterdon County Fairgrounds are within minutes of a great nightlife in Lambertville, NJ and New Hope, PA. Plus, we expect attendees from throughout NJ, NY, PA and DE to come to this centrally located event. • Limited education – Means more time for you to spend with attendees and exhibitors, networking, demonstrating and discussing products and services. • Space – With over 1 acre of covered exhibit space, 1.5 acres of outdoor space and 1.25 acres of demonstration area, this will be the biggest event on the east coast. Attendance at this event will be to the level permitted under New Jersey Executive Orders in effect at the time of the show. Additionally, all participants must adhere to all CDC and state guidelines regarding COVID-19. However, we are back and better than ever and invite you to be part of the beginning of the northeast’s biggest green industry event ever! Plus, we’re still hosting our Landscape New Jersey Trade Show and Conference at the Meadowlands in February. So, you will now have two opportunities to meet and greet, network and learn. Exhibitors should reserve their booths at the Northeast Green Industry Expo today! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 201-321-5111 or Sincerely,

Richard Goldstein President

Gail Woolcott Executive Director

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Available Only at Locally-Owned Garden Centers, Hardware Stores and Feed Stores. In the past couple months, we have seen several public instances of companies having their computer infrastructure hacked and held hostage by organized groups of cyber criminals. For a sizable fee or ransom, these groups will then re-enable the owner’s technology systems, leaving the companies bewildered, shaken and quite a bit poorer. Meanwhile, these ransomware groups seem to be able to slither back into the shadows of obscurity with relative ease, and start hunting for a new, softer target to shake down. Recently, a large international meat processor was successfully targeted by one of these groups. And to be honest, the effects of this attack were downright chilling. This attack disabled the company enough so that it had to curtail or severely slow down meatprocessing operations for a period of time. And because this company was so big, the fallout from this rippled through the beef industry like a wayward tsunami. Farmers and ranchers were left with no place to send their cattle. Stores and distributors were left without meat. Prices rose for the consumer but fell for the producer. These hackers

I open my front door and am immediately hit with a blast of hot, humid air. Like I really need to be reminded it is August. Within seconds, sweat begins dripping off my nose and down other places not to be mentioned in polite company. I fire up the lawnmower, and with each pass of the lawn, I do a slow striptease until I’m finally down to my bathing suit – much to the horror of my neighbors. All through the neighborhood, sounds of central air units whir away. It made me wonder. How did our ancestors stay cool during a hot summer? The obvious answer is that since they never experienced air conditioning, they literally did not know what they were missing. However, through ingenuity, they found ways to cope through the dog days of summer. Home architecture played a big role in determining comfort. Many homes in Colonial America were built with thick walls of brick or stone. These types of materials are hard to conduct heat, consequently they tend to maintain the structure’s internal temperature. Known as Centerhall Colonials, the center hall with a door at both ends served

August 2021 15 The Town Farmer By Peter Melick Agricultural Producer

Food Security

were able to locate and exploit the weak link in the entire U.S. beef industry. Just a few years ago, I would have thought that agriculture would have been all but immune to these types of situations. Perhaps financial companies or businesses with large computer networks would have been vulnerable, but agriculture? No way, I would have said. Agriculture in the United States is very decentralized and way too diverse to be meaningfully impacted by one specific targeted attack. Probably, back in the day, that was the case. But no more. Agriculture in my opinion, is just as vulnerable to a cyber attack as any other industry. The reasons for this weakening are actually quite obvious. If

you look back over the last 20 or 30 years, the great majority of the advances in the agricultural industry have been technology related. Improvements in ag equipment, like satellite guidance systems, “just in time” distribution and the consolidation of ag suppliers and processors, which have unquestionably made the ag industry more efficient, have all come with a price. All of these improvements, and countless others like them, which at one time, had been done mechanically or manually, are now being done virtually. Robots are now milking cows. Drones are scouting crops for insects and disease. One person, in the right machine, can now harvest as much lettuce in a day as 20 laborers could 30 years ago.

Automation, which has allowed family farmers across the country to actually spend time with their families instead of relying on them to do all of the work, has made farming much more productive and efficient. But if some nefarious group can gain access to and commandeer these systems, we are in for a heap of trouble. But with all of this having been said, we cannot go backwards. There is no way that American society can forego all of these advancements that have made the United States the envy of the world in terms of agricultural technology and efficiency. We can in no way afford to reverse course in terms of efficiency and productivity just so that we can reduce our cyber-security risk. If you thought that there were hiccups

Editor’s Note: Peter Melick is co-owner of Melick’s Town Farm in Oldwick and a 10th-generation New Jersey farmer. Peter is Mayor of Tewksbury Township, Hunterdon County, NJ. He also served as a director for the New Jersey Farm Bureau and is a past president of the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture. Peter has also been featured on NJN, News 12 New Jersey and on the Fox Business Network.

Pittsburgh. While staring at the fog, he realized that he could dry air by passing it through water to create fog. Doing so would make it By Al Murray possible to manufacture air with Executive Director specific amounts of moisture in it. Within a year, he completed his invention to control humidity – the fundamental building block for modern air conditioning. As I finish my lawn work, I In urban areas, municipal got a little cooler and then work fountains were a frequent sight. until dark. Today, many farmers retreat into the cool confines of More like troughs than a fancy pull their laborers out of the field my home. I crack open a cold fountain, people could get a drink during the hottest part of the day. beer, and silently give thanks to or dunk their heads to cool off. Milk and butter would stay Mr. Carrier – my patron Saint of Unfortunately, this also helped fresh by being placed in a bucket August. spread illness. Like today, people and lowered into a well where dressed lighter, but clothing of the the cold spring water acted as era remained natural materials a primitive refrigerator. Many Editor’s Note: Al Murray such as cotton, linen, or wool – all dairy farms had a spring where is the Executive Director of which were effective in wicking farmers would store the milk jugs the New Jersey Agricultural away sweat. before sending them to market. Society. Established in 1781, Farmers and others who earned Vegetable farmers also dug the Society is New Jersey’s their livelihood working outdoors root cellars, or if they were lucky oldest organization whose also had ways to cope through the to have a natural cave, it would be purpose is to advocate, heat. There is a reason they still used to store fruits and vegetables. educate and promote on get up before the crack of dawn Conversely, in the winter, these behalf of New Jersey’s to begin their day. The farmer areas would be virtually frost- agricultural industry. Mr. and their fieldhands would take proof, enabling food storage Murray previously spent advantage of the cooler, early- throughout the long, cold months. his entire career at the NJ morning hours before leaving the It was not until 1902 when Department of Agriculture, fields at the height of the day’s Willis Carrier invented the serving as the Assistant heat. It was not an uncommon air conditioner. He gained his Secretary. He can be reached sight to see them all napping inspiration while standing at njagriculturalsociety@ under the shade of a tree until it on a foggy train platform in

NJ Agricultural Society

Cool Thoughts on a Hot Day

as a natural breezeway. During hot summers, the inhabitants would spend their days in the passageway and enjoy the cooler air. The front and rear doors were typically aligned in an east/west position, and trees would be planted on both sides facing the doors. The trees helped shield the harsh sun and cool the summer breezes before entering the house or the porch area. At nighttime, the inhabitants would forego their bedrooms and drag mattresses into the basement, or onto a front porch. My father would recount how his parents and siblings would spend many a summer night sleeping on the porch, and up and down the street snoring would be just another common summer sound, along with the crickets and cicadas.

now from ransomware attacks, just wait and see what a 20-percent loss in agricultural productivity would do to our economy. We have no choice but to continue moving forward utilizing as much technology as possible to ensure that the United States has the most efficient and productive food supply system in the world. Sure, mistakes will be made and problems will arise, but we must be able to quickly minimize any damage, take corrective actions, and make certain that these issues do not happen again. After all, if we have the technology to build and use all these impressive machines, we ought to be able to keep them safe.

16 August 2021 When a Middlesex County gun club recently announced a 24-hour predator hunting competition with cash prizes for the heaviest coyote and fox, it reignited discussions in the Assembly Agriculture Committee of the ethics of hunting strictly for profit and prize money. Like many issues the Agriculture Committee addresses, the question of whether hunting competitions for prizes should be restricted or banned requires balancing human, wildlife, and environmental needs. In June, we heard from people for and against hunting competitions during a hearing on a revised version of A1365. The legislation would prohibit harassing or taking of certain wildlife at competitive events. The committee took testimony on the definition of wildlife that was revised to include bobcat, coyote, crow, fox, mink, opossum, rabbit, raccoon, skunk, squirrel, weasel and woodchuck. The bill revision also exempts competitions that are part of a field trial of hunting hounds or field day authorized by a state license. Opponents of competitive hunting for prizes say it violates the fundamental rules of ethical hunting and is inconsistent with our understanding of natural systems. They argue that the hunts are Agriculture and Natural Resources By Eric Houghtaling New Jersey Assemblyman

Examining the Ethics of Hunting Competitions inhumane, often with the animals that are killed simply being thrown in a dumpster, as an undercover study by the Human Society of the United States (HSUS) found. The hunts leave wounded animals that crawl off to die horrible deaths and orphaned offspring left alone to die. They also point out that in the eight states that have banned hunting competitions, only one state agricultural society or farm bureau, in Oregon, opposed the ban. Proponents of banning hunting contests say the majority of the public and most hunters share their opposition. They point to a South Jersey squirrel hunting contest two years ago that drew a large public outcry, including many hunters. Competitions like the squirrel hunt, whose sponsors allowed children to participate, send the wrong message to kids about respecting

wildlife and the environment. Environmental and animal rescue representatives testified that the hunts can have unintended consequences. They disrupt population age, which can lead to overbreeding that increases litter sizes and can throw off the balance of the ecosystem. Supporters point out that hunting contests generate revenue for small businesses, from gun shops to taverns that sponsor them. New Jersey sportsmen and sportswomen generate $22 million in licenses, purchases and excise taxes, or about 80 percent of the state Division of Wildlife Management budget. The hunts are conducted during the legal hunting season and participants must have New Jersey hunting licenses to participate, they argue. The animals they hunt in these competitions often are pests that can devastate farmers’ crops

and livestock such as chickens and sheep and can destroy a home garden in hours. The Agriculture Committee approved the revised version of A1365. We wanted to take a scalpel, not a hammer, to address the problem, which this revised bill does. It doesn’t stop a father and daughter who go hunting and have a competition to see who shoots the first squirrel. It is a narrow bill targeting large-scale, organized competitions that are not for legitimate wildlife-control purposes or for food to eat. This bill will not affect the overwhelming majority of people who hunt, but does reflect the values of most New Jersey residents. The hearing on A1365 also illustrates the need to educate people, including legislators, of the complex relationships between people’s actions and the ecosystems

of which agriculture is an integral component. That’s why the Agriculture Committee also approved A1578, to establish the third week of March as New Jersey Agricultural Literacy Week. The bill would require the Departments of Agriculture and Education to establish a program by designating a children’s book and activities that teach kids about farming and where their food comes from. Knowledge is power, and when we help children learn about the importance of agriculture and its impact on the health of the state’s ecosystems, we are building a stronger and more sustainable Garden State for all of us to enjoy. The Agriculture Committee welcomes your ideas and suggestions, and you can contact me at (732) 695-3371. I look forward to hearing from you.

Editor’s Note: Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling is Chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in the New Jersey State Assembly. He can be reached at 732-6953371 or AsmHoughtaling@, or by mail at 802 W Park Ave, Ste 302, Ocean Township 07712.

This Pepperbush Is Not For Eating By Hubert Ling Although Clethra alnifolia is frequently called sweet pepperbush, humans do not utilize this plant for seasoning. The mature fruits of sweet pepperbush resemble miniature peppercorns but cannot be used as pepper. Instead, sweet pepperbush is used as a magnificent, flowering, landscape shrub, which will grow and bloom well in a semi-shady location. The genus name is from the Greek ‘”klethra,” which is the name given to the alder tree. The species name alnifolia also refers to the leaves, which resemble those of alder. Actually Clethra is only distantly related to the alder tree. Other common names of Clethra are summer sweet and alder leaf pepperbush. Sweet pepperbush is native to the entire Atlantic Coast from New Brunswick, Canada, to Florida and west to

Texas. It is generally restricted to about 100 miles from the sea coast and is found in every county in New Jersey. The shrub grows normally to about four to eight feet tall and thrives in damp, shady, slightly acid, rich soil. However, it tolerates medium moisture, full sun, clay, sand, salt spray, fire, soil compaction, deer, and heavy shade. Its natural habitat is the sea shore, swamps and stream banks; sweet pepperbush will not do well on calcareous soil and may need watering during a drought. This multi-stemmed shrub is covered with towto four-inch spikes of white (rarely pink) fragrant flowers in August. This makes the plant unusual, since few other flowering shrubs are in bloom at this time. The individual flowers are only about a quarter-inch wide, but the densely packed spikes make a spectacular display. The bisexual flowers have a whorl of five petals and 10

stamens located in two whorls. Each flower has a three-lobed ovary, a common fused style, and three stigmas. These flowers are avidly sought ought by bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators for nectar and pollen and sweet pepperbush is considered an important honey plant. The flowers are followed by one-eighth-inch fruits, which at maturity turn brown. These peppercorn-like fruits contain numerous small seeds and are used for food by several birds and mammals but not humans. The simple, glossy, dark green, aromatic, three- to four-inch leaves of sweet pepperbush are deciduous, toothed and oval in outline. As is common for most woody plants, the leaves are borne alternately. They turn a pleasant pale gold in fall. The dry seed capsules persist long into winter and help identify this wide-spread, common shrub. The dark, grey-brown, exfoliating bark is also

distinctive in winter. Sweet pepperbush is a very easy-to-grow plant in most gardens; when given the proper conditions, it is disease resistant. However, if the growing conditions are too dry, the plant may be susceptible to spider mites. Sweet pepperbush may be propagated slowly by seed, or more quickly by clump divisions and cuttings. The seeds do not need any type of pretreatment to germinate well but getting sizable seedlings may take two years. Left to its own, the plant does tend to spread to be a wide mound, so it needs some space for easy maintenance. However, since it only has a moderate growth rate, spread can be restricted with a good pair of clippers to remove suckers and maintain the desired size or shape. Numerous cultivars of sweet pepperbush have been developed; there are dwarf, pink, more floriferous ones, and cultivars which bloom

earlier and later than the wild type. In damp, shady areas, the plant can be used for hedges. They also do well in pollinator and raingardens. It was the Virginia Native Plant Society plant of the year for 2015 and will do well in almost everyone. Visit sweet pepperbush in a coastal park such as Cheesequake State Park in Matawan, N.J. in August. You might just find that you would like to buy one or more at your local nursery. These plants are also useful in specialized coastal gardens because of its resistance to salt spray. Add interest to your garden with this versatile native flowering and do our essential pollinators and yourself a favor. This plant deserves greater use in our landscape. Editor’s Note: Hubert Ling is President of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey. He can be reached at

August 2021 17



STOP THE SPREAD OF THE SPOTTED LANTERNFLY. CHECK YOUR VEHICLE Search for all spotted lanternfly life stages

Egg mass Sept.-June

Early nymph April-July

Late nymph July-Sept.

Adult July-Dec.

SCRAPE. SQUASH. REPORT. For Reporting and More Information in New Jersey Scrape

egg massess into a container of rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer


any bugs you see


any sightings

Spotted lanternfly is a serious invasive pest with a healthy appetite for our plants and it can be a significant nuisance, affecting the quality of life and enjoyment of the outdoors. The spotted lanternfly uses its piercing-sucking mouthpart to feed on sap from over 70 different plant species. It has a strong preference for economically important plants and the feeding damage significantly stresses the plants which can lead to decreased health and potentially death. While it does not harm humans or animals, it can reduce the quality of life for people living in heavily infested areas. For more information visit

18 August 2021

Growing Gardeners By Diana Dove Environmental Educator

What Young Gardeners should know about groundhogs and rabbits

What mammal whistles in the daytime while another cools itself with its ears? Children may encounter many wildlife species in a garden. Wild Garden Visitors fascinate GROWING GARDENERS. Here is information for children about two common mammals of New Jersey’s gardens. There’s a diurnal mammal (active in the daytime) who whistles across a field, lives above and below ground, and has several names, including a groundhog or a woodchuck or a whistle-pig. It belongs to the large ground squirrel family known as marmots. It is often seen eating in a garden or on the run into one of its burrows. By burrowing under fences, groundhogs have access into their favorite garden restaurant, complete with several entrances and exits, often causing extensive damage as they devour their plants of choice. Groundhogs might be kept out of a garden when a perimeter garden fence is embedded 18 inches into the ground. However, the burrows dug by groundhogs may be beneficial by aerating the soil. Groundhogs still play an important role in the ecosystem as prey for hawks, eagles, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, and weasels. Sometimes young children confuse groundhogs with beavers. Both have brown fur but beavers live near water and have large, black flat, scaly tails; groundhogs have brown furry tails that are about one fourth of their body length and may range from 3.7 inches to 7.4 inches long. Groundhogs thrive in open spaces and fields. Primarily plant eaters, called herbivores, they might eat a pound or more of vegetation daily. They mainly

enjoy wild grasses, berries, clover, dandelions, buttercups, plantain, and agricultural crops including timothy grass, buckwheat, and alfalfa. Research shows they may eat grasshoppers, June bugs, grubs, baby birds, bird’s eggs, and snails, but not often. Their four incisor teeth grow daily because eating constantly wears them down. They get most of their water from the plants they eat. Without fresh green plants in the winter, the groundhog hibernates underground. Did you know groundhogs can swim and climb? Another mammal commonly seen by children in a garden is the Eastern cottontail rabbit, which gets its name from the white fur on its tail that resembles cotton. Their reddish-brown or greybrown fur helps this animal to hide, camouflaged in the habitat where it lives, though its underside has white fur. Generally, they weigh about 2.5 pounds. Most rest in the daytime but can still be seen during the day and are classified as both crepuscular (active at dusk and dawn) and nocturnal (active at night). Rabbits make sounds: they purr, grind their teeth, growl, and they can make a wheezing sound. At night, you might hear them making a shrill loud scream if in distress. Their favorite habitat is open, grassy areas, farms, and fields with grasses and vegetation. They often eat while standing on all four legs, so they use their nose to move their plant to their mouth. Up to 145 plant species make up their diet in the form of grasses, seeds, buds, bark, twigs, leaves, and flowers. Did you know that rabbits digest their food twice to get the maximum nutrition? First, they digest their

food and drop green moist pellets which they eat and swallow without chewing. Then they digest that food again into brown pellets…which they don’t eat. Rabbits head for the edge with shrubs, which is ideal escape-cover as a hiding place from predators. They seek empty burrows dug by other animals. Their sense of smell is keen enough to smell some predators coming. In a garden with tall grasses, they make a nest hole called a form, lined with grass and fur; about five inches deep and fiveby-seven inches around. Children recognize rabbits from their long ears, which act as a cooling system on hot days, called thermoregulation. Using their sense of hearing is so important in detecting predators that they don’t eat on windy days; its too dangerous when they can’t hear over the wind. Research lists predators as: the great horned owls, barred owls, bobcat, raccoon, fox, coyote, weasels, mink, some hawks, crows, snakes, black bear, cats, and dogs. Baby bunnies are sought by skunks, opossums, and raccoons. The Eastern cottontail rabbit generally has three to four litters, averaging five babies per litter. Even though rabbits are prey to a wide variety of predators, the rabbit population in New Jersey is strong and in the conservation level of “least concern.” I tell children to watch wildlife and observe their behavior from a distance. Never feed animals in the wild. That will be the focus of another column. It is important for GROWING GARDENERS to learn the role wildlife species play within an ecosystem and to understand their connection with the environment and people.

Editor’s Note: Diana is an Environmental Educator who can be reached at dianadove13@ She co-teaches, “Wildlife & Litter” programs with her husband, Mike. They offer this and Wildlife Education booths, free, with kids’ crafts, fully funded by County and Local NJ Clean Communities for Pre-K through all grade levels and adults. Please “Like” the Facebook page of the Karen Nash Memorial Butterfly Garden she founded in Washington Borough, Warren County. Diana is Co-Youth Chair on the Board of the Garden Club of NJ and is the 2021 National Garden Club Youth Leader Award Recipient. She has a BS in Forestry & Wildlife Mgt, with a concentration in Biology, plus a BA in Communications from Virginia Tech. She is a former Senior Naturalist for Somerset Co. Parks and has been teaching since 1975.

Be On the Lookout for Sick Songbirds in New Jersey A morbidity/mortality event has been occurring in nestling and fledgling songbirds in the mid-Atlantic, extending into the Southeast and eastern upper Midwest. Since mid-May, numerous young birds - mainly blue jays, starlings, and common grackles, but also robins and cardinals - have been found with eye and neurologic issues, and in some cases these birds have been found dead in large numbers. Some (but not all) of the affected birds are showing neurologic signs consisting of head tremors, leg paresis (partial paralysis or weakness), ataxia (falling to the side) or inability to stand at all, and excessive vocalizations. Also, most of the birds are in good body condition - likely still being fed by their parents. Cases have been reported in Washington, DC, TN, KY, VA, WV, MD, DE, IN, OH, FL, PA and NJ. Many theories have been posed as to the cause of this event, however no cause has been determined at this time. If you observe birds with any of these symptoms or find dead birds on your property, please contact the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Nicole Lewis ( or call 877-WARN-DEP for any additional instructions. Dead birds should be handled with gloves, double-bagged and kept cool until picked up. In addition, any bird baths or feeders should be cleaned and removed if you find sick or dead birds on your property.

Organic Fresh Produce Sales Up 4 Percent in Q2 2021 Organic fresh produce sales and volume in the second quarter of 2021 continued to show year-over-year growth despite the fact that the second quarter of last year was when the COVID pandemic shuttered most foodservice outlets, causing supermarket sales to soar. By contrast, conventionally grown fresh produce sales and volume declined. Organic fresh produce sales totaled $2.296 billion for the quarter, up 4.1 percent in sales and 0.2 percent in volume, while conventional produce saw dollar sales decrease by 3.3 percent and volume off by 8.6 percent compared to the same period a year ago. For the first time, the berry category (which includes strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries) displaced packaged salads as the number one organic category in dollar sales. Overall, year-over-year berry sales increased by a substantial 19 percent in the second quarter, with volume up 16 percent during the same time frame. Total organic berry sales topped $435 million for the quarter. The top 10 organic produce categories showed mixed results in both sales and volume for the second quarter of 2021, with berries, apples, lettuce, bananas, and citrus registering sales gains, while packaged salads, herbs, carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes showed modest declines. Berries were also the star performer in volume growth, joining citrus, lettuce, and tomatoes in gains for the quarter. During the second quarter, year-over-year organic sales and volume declined in the Western part of the United States, where normally the region leads the nation. Compared to the second quarter of 2020, where the West region showed organic sales soaring by 17 percent and volume up by 18 percent, Q2 2021 showed a small decline in dollars (0.2 percent) and a volume decrease of 3.9 percent. While the West continued to lead in total sales and volume, the strongest year-over-year gains for the quarter were seen in the Northeast region, where dollar sales jumped by 7.7 percent and volume increased by 3.6 percent. Source: Organic Produce Network

August 2021 19 Unique Plants By Bob LaHoff Nursery Specialist

Reflecting in Our Garden “I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it” – Jack Dawson, Titanic. I love movies and I love this quote! Every morning I wake up to a Ginkgo tree deliberately planted outside our bedroom window simply because it brings me happiness. When my wife and I built our home together, we were cautioned as to the stress construction may bring. Nothing could be further from the truth for the two of us. Excited at the opportunity and open to the adventure, my wife and I see most everything the same. A true gift, we have thrown so much of ourselves into our home and its surroundings over the years. It often puzzles me how many are so cursory when it comes to landscaping their homes. Now, I’m not saying that everyone should have the appreciation for plant material that I do, far from it. That would be like me understanding every nuance that every other profession has. There simply is a learning curve that, in many professions, would take years to understand, let alone appreciate. I’m just amazed at how capricious some are about “buying plants to fill a void.” While it may all start with a master plan, the research, subtle distinctions in cultivars, and excitement of a particular plant’s attributes continues to hold my attention. In a world where you simply can’t know it all, as new plants are being discovered every day, why would anyone just settle? Dumping into a landscape a cute, little, yellow mop cypress, the size of a pillow, only to discover that the dwarf varieties grow larger than most cars, perplexes me to this day. Every selection in our garden brings

me joy and in many instances tells a story, connecting me to someone in my industry. Building our home, my wife and I had certain criteria we openly shared with our architect. Important to my wife was to not see our garage doors from the street and equally important to me was to open my eyes, every morning from our bedroom, and see the unique foliage of a Ginkgo tree, my personal favorite. The fact that our Ginkgo tree was a selection from one of the country’s premier growers, at the time, and that it was slated to be on the property of Anheuser-Busch tells only one story in our book. A novel that would have plant enthusiasts brimming with anticipation to turn the page. Sauntering around our garden past the likes of herbaceous perennials, woody deciduous ornamentals, unique conifers and a handful of evergreen counterparts, our garden has purpose, personal style and deliberate decisionmaking predicated on science and bliss. Like any garden, ours is a work in progress and not without its fair share of adjustments. Our home, originally screened from the street by a handful of ornamental European hornbeam, Carpinus betulus “Fastigiata,” I soon learned that “Fastigiata” isn’t so fastigiate in the long run. A lesson I had learned early on and clearly forgot or overlooked. Punctuate that with a visit to Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton Township, N.J. and you can begin to understand the need to “rip out” our perfectly healthy hornbeams for the architecture and drama that an American sweetgum cultivar, Liquidambar styraciflua

“Slender Silhouette,” can provide. Much to the amazement of my neighbors and even my wife, my decision to reintroduce a new screen, when one was perfectly fine, fostered frustration and bewilderment to many who passed by. However, now that the “pencil” trees have begun to fill in, the doubters now understand the vision. Perhaps if I had selected a hornbeam cultivar like “Frans Fontaine” or followed pleaching techniques of French and Italian landscapers of the 17th and 18th centuries, I could have saved myself time and effort? Alas, I did not! The depth of our plant material, and the stories associated with them, simply cannot be captured in a single article. Endless garden outings across our country and Europe, numerous conversations with some of the world’s most brilliant horticultural minds, veracious readings on my part to appreciate and understand the subtle differences in plant cultivars have all helped frame our garden beds, creating a comfortable outdoor living space for our family. A space that continues to fill in and flourish rather than implode because price dictated the decision-making. My wish is to see more people use plant material to their fullest potential, understanding their usefulness, not basing decisions merely on dollars and cents. “Plants are not static pieces of furniture,” (Eileen Ferrer) meant to be dumped into a corner to fill a void. Rather they are living, breathing things that when nurtured will not only fill space, they will exceed expectations and inspire you and the next generation.

Editor’s Note: Bob LaHoff is co-owner of Hall’s Garden Center and Florist in Union County, a member of the Union County Board of Agriculture, the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association, past member of Reeves-Reed Arboretum Buildings and Grounds Committee, a lifetime member of the Conifer Society and past member of the retail council for Monrovia Growers. He can be reached at (908) 665-0331.

Bobcat Company introduces new R2-Series E88 compact excavator

Owners and operators looking for exceptional power, leading lift capacity and productivity in an efficient package will meet their match with the new Bobcat E88 compact excavator. This workhorse has up to a 14 percent increase in over-the-side lift capacity, as compared to the previous generation, which is perfect for a variety of demanding tasks. The E88 comes equipped with dual-flange track rollers, integrated counterweight, extra machine weight and added track on ground. These new undercarriage improvements offer increased over-the-side lift capacity allowing operators to dig with greater confidence over the side of the machine. Like other Bobcat compact excavators, the E88’s Tier 4 turbo charged Bobcat engine achieves emissions compliance without the use of a diesel particulate filter (DPF) or selective catalyst reduction (SCR). This means fewer components for easier maintenance, plus no work stoppage due to DPF regeneration. Peak Performance and Uptime in a Compact Package Owners and operators looking for leading lift capability will find it – and then some – within the narrow footprint of the new Bobcat E88. Along with the added confidence in over the-side- performance, the excellent slewing ability lends the ability to push productivity higher. Increased distance from sprocket to idler puts more track on the ground, which adds stability and helps to prevent a rocking sensation while lifting heavier loads. Improvements to the track design increase uptime and the overall life of the tracks as well. In addition, increased machine weight gives operators a rock-solid base for strong productivity, especially during the tough digging and heavy lifting tasks. The E88 is powered by a newly redesigned Bobcat engine that delivers efficiency and performance, plus simplified routine maintenance. It also improves cold-weather operation and includes a variety of features that make maintenance and service more convenient. The new low-effort joysticks coupled with the new hydraulic control valve offers improved metering, movement and controllability, enabling a quick, smooth and precise work group for ultimate operator control. Achieve More with Operator-Focused Features Built Throughout For generations, Bobcat equipment has been known for being one of the most versatile compact equipment choices on the market. That tradition continues with the E88, designed to help operators get more utilization from one machine to tackle a variety of demanding tasks. Key new features include integrated lift eye, optional clamp diverter valve and an add-on counterweight option to propel lift capacity even higher. In addition, the E88 features an optional angle blade, important for fast backfilling and grading. This feature allows operators to angle the machine’s backfill blade 25 degrees left or right to direct spoil from one side to the other – without forming windrows on both sides of the blade. A great range of downward positioning ability enables the perfect angle for stabilizing the machine on uneven surfaces or while trenching at an angle. The blade is also ideal for “dust panning” material into the bucket, providing extra versatility for jobsite cleanup. Experience a Superior Cab Environment Everything about the E88 cab is designed to enhance operator efficiency, performance and comfort. The spacious interior houses an easy-to-reach control pattern selector right underneath the seat, so operators can switch between ISO and standard controls without getting up or over-reaching. The optional automatic heating and air conditioning adjusts depending on the temperature of the cab, keeping operators in a comfortable environment. An optional high-back, heated seat with headrest provides added support for long hours of operation and serves as an ideal complement to the automatic climate control feature. Owners have the option to add on a waterproof, chemically hardened 7-inch touch display; the most advanced compact equipment in-cab display available. Via a wide and easy-to-use touch screen, operators can access their mobile devices via Bluetooth™, connect with their dealer or customer easily through a quick contacts option and secure convenient touch operation without the inconvenience of glove removal. For more information on the Bobcat R2-Series E88 compact excavator, visit your local Bobcat dealer or

20 August 2021


Secretary of Agriculture: $300,000 Available to Promote Pennsylvania Agriculture Sales, Export Markets Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today called for proposals for projects designed to increase consumer awareness of Pennsylvania agriculture products and increase sales and exports. The department will award up to $303,000 in matching funds to PA nonprofits to reimburse up to 50% of costs for promotional and educational projects. Prioritization will be given to projects that improve food security in the commonwealth by improving access to nutritious food. “The strength of Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry is in its diversity – from hardwoods to honey, wine to wool – the industry is food, fuel, and fiber to sustain our everyday essentials and indulgences,” said Redding. “This program aims to find skilled, innovative marketers and educators who can tell that story to consumers here and abroad. With prioritization for food security-related projects, we hope to put the abundance of Pennsylvania agriculture to work for the most good across the commonwealth.” Grants will be awarded to Pennsylvania nonprofit agricultural promotion and marketing organizations. Eligible projects can promote a wide variety of Pennsylvania agricultural products grown, processed or manufactured in Pennsylvania including dairy and artisan cheese, wine, hardwoods, honey, fruit, vegetables, herbs, proteins, or fibers. Guidelines for the Pennsylvania Agricultural Product Promotion, Education and Export Promotion Matching Grant Program can be found in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Grant applications must be submitted online through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development Electronic Single Application. Applications are due by Friday, August 6, 2021 at 4:59 PM. Potential applicants with questions about eligibility should contact Grants Manager Morgan Sheffield at


Second Specialty Crop Block Grant Request for Applications Announced The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Bureau of Agriculture seeks Specialty Crop Block Grants (SCBG) program applications from Maine’s specialty crop industry to present for funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is the second Request for Applications (RFA) this year, made possible due to the provision of H.R. 133 (the Consolidated Appropriations Act) Stimulus Funding by the USDA. The SCBG program is specifically designed to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture. Funds will be awarded through a competitive review process. Grant awards will be for a one-year term. The H.R. 133 funding is anticipated for 2021 only. Agricultural organizations, educational institutions, commodity groups, municipalities, producers, and state agencies may download the 2021 SCBG application by searching under DACF online on the DAFS Procurement Services website at The application deadline is August 17, 2021. Please consult the RFA for more information. Questions may be submitted to; responses will be published on August 6, 2021.


New State FFA Officers Take Seats after Elections at Convention The 2021-2022 State FFA officer team was recently elected as part of the 92nd Annual State FFA Convention. The state officers represent New Jersey FFA at several state and national functions throughout the year, including visiting FFA chapters throughout New Jersey. The new officers with the chapters they represent are Abigail Goodenough (Northern Burlington), State President; Ivan Moore, (Salem Tech), State Vice President; Emily Sadlon, (Northern Burlington), State Secretary; Jonathan Finney, (Salem Tech), State Treasurer. “I know each of our officers are dedicated to the FFA mission and have the best interest of all of our chapters as a top priority,” said New Jersey State FFA Advisor and Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Education Program Leader Erin Noble. “I know this group will represent New Jersey by being outstanding ambassadors at state and national FFA events. We are anticipating a great 2021-22.” Some of the state officer duties include assisting chapters in the execution of their program of activities; encouraging FFA members to participate in food, agriculture and natural resources education and FFA programs; maintaining positive relations with members, the agribusiness sector, the public and others interested in agricultural education; traveling to FFA chapters around the state 2-3 times per month; assisting at career development events, including fall, spring, and summer; and representing the New Jersey FFA Association at events of other state agricultural organizations. FFA is a component of a food, agriculture and natural resources program of instruction that prepares students to pursue fulfilling careers in the business, science, education and technology of agriculture. There are more than 2,300 FFA members in New Jersey and nearly 760,000 members across the nation.


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August 2021 21


New York State Announces $600,000 Available in FreshConnect Checks to Help Low-Income Families and Veterans Access Healthy Foods The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets today announced more than $600,000 is available to help low-income families enrolled in SNAP, as well as Veterans, Servicemembers, and their immediate families who participate in the FreshConnect Checks Program. This program increases the purchasing power of food stamps used at participating farmers’ markets. More than 257,000 checks have already been issued to 82 sites across the state to help eligible New Yorkers access healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables, while also providing a boost to the agriculture industry. State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Our farmers’ markets have seen an increased number of visitors, particularly over this last year during the pandemic as more New Yorkers turned to their local markets to do their food shopping. We want to ensure that everyone who is eligible knows that they can

tap into the FreshConnect Checks program and use this benefit to purchase healthy fruits and vegetables. The program provides for these healthy alternatives while helping farmers expand their reach into new markets.” The FreshConnect Checks program encourages recipients to use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at participating farmers’ markets. The program provides $2 incentive coupons for every $5 in SNAP benefits spent with the market, increasing the purchasing power of SNAP consumers by 40 percent. In 2020, more than $2.9 million in SNAP sales occurred at farmers’ markets throughout the state. A full list of participating markets can be found at https://agriculture. . $200,000 in FreshConnect Checks will again be available to Veterans, Servicemembers, and their immediate family members at all of the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services

(DVS) offices statewide, and at Division of Veterans’ Services outreach programs conducted throughout New York State, on a first-come, firstserved basis. There are no income restrictions, combat service requirements, or length of military service requirements for a Veteran, Servicemember, or eligible family member to receive an allotment of FreshConnect Checks. Each eligible Veteran, Servicemember, or family member receives $20 worth of FreshConnect Checks for redemption at farmers’ markets. DVS and the Department of Agriculture and Markets have joined together every year since 2014 to distribute FreshConnect Checks to Veterans, Servicemembers, and their immediate family members. In 2019, the program received national recognition when it received the highly respected Pillars of Excellence Award from the Secretary of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, praising the program’s innovations and statewide successes.


Deadly Poison Hemlock and Spotted Water Hemlock Found in Delaware The Delaware Department of Agriculture is warning all residents about two deadly species of hemlock recently found in Sussex County. Environmental scientists have confirmed the presence of poison hemlock (Conicum maculatum) and spotted water hemlock (Cicuta maculata). All parts of the plants – leaves, stems, flowers, and roots – are poisonous to humans and animals. Both hemlocks are in bloom from June through August. As members of the wild carrot family, both plants have small white flowers in umbrella-like groupings. People may mistake these plants for wild carrot, commonly called Queen Anne’s lace, or wild parsnip or wild celery. People who like to forage for natural foods or cut wildflowers are advised to avoid wild carrotlooking plants to prevent the possibility of being poisoned. Both the poison hemlock and spotted water hemlock were found in wetland areas in Sussex County. Poison hemlock is also known to grow in ditches, meadows, pastures, and the edges of cultivated fields. Poison hemlock is an invasive biennial that grows from six to eight feet tall. The stems are hairless and have purple blotches. The plant emits an odor, but people should not crush any part of the plant to smell it because toxic

alkaline oils can be released, poisoning the person. Leaves are alternate, dark glossy green, fern-like, triangular, lacey with veins running through the tips of the leaf serrations. Native to Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, poison hemlock was introduced into the United States in the 1800s as an ornamental garden plant. Spotted water hemlock is a native plant that grows up to six feet tall. The stems can vary in color from solid green or purple to green with purple spots or stripes. The leaves are lacey and fern-like, with veins ending at the base of the notch of the leaf edge. If residents suspect they have found either of these plants, take a picture and email it to DDA. for identification. Residents should not try to eradicate these plants themselves. Residents should find a licensed aquatic pest control company at https:// to treat for poison hemlock or spotted water hemlock. It is recommended that people wear long sleeves, long pants, and gloves when working with these toxic plants and with any unknown plant life in general. The sap can cause skin irritation or a rash in some people, and others may experience serious illness. Mowing the plants is not recommended because toxic particles can be released and inhaled in the air. Depending on the exposure – direct contact,

ingestion, and inhalation – signs and symptoms of poisoning by spotted water hemlock and poison hemlock in humans can appear as soon as 15 minutes to hours and can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, irregular heartbeat, dilation of the pupils, respiratory distress, muscle damage, renal failure, and central nervous system involvement causing seizures, with potential for death. If a person may have ingested either of these plants or cut one of the plants inhaling the toxic particles, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 or 911. The identification and eradication of these plants are crucial in meadows and fields where livestock and horses graze. If any part of the plant is ingested, toxicity can occur in animals. All classes of livestock are susceptible to poison hemlock. Ingestion of the plant may lead to death within just 2-3 hours, depending on the amount consumed. Fresh leaves of poison hemlock are unpalatable to animals, so livestock and horses seldom eat hemlock if other feed is available. Clinical signs in livestock usually begin within 30-60 minutes after ingestion. There is no antidote. When animals ingest the plant, the toxin affects nerve impulse transmission to the muscles, and animals die due to respiratory failure. Animals often will be found dead before the illness is determined.

22 August 2021

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Full Moon August 22, 2021 Eastern Daylight

TIP OF THE MONTH Be on the look-out for sawflies. There are many different species of sawflies, each of which feeds on specific plants or groups of related plants. The common name of the sawfly usually includes its host. Sawflies are related to wasps and bees. Their name comes from the saw-like ovipositor (egg-laying structure) of adult females. Adult sawflies are small, stoutbodied, non-stinging wasp-like insects, although they are seldom noticed in the landscape. Caterpillars have two to five pairs of prolegs on the abdomen. Sawflies have six pairs of prolegs or more. The prolegs on slug sawflies are small and may be overlooked. Sawfly larvae are smooth with little or no hair and are no more than one inch long when fully grown. Moth and butterfly caterpillars can be smooth, hairy or spiny, and vary in size when mature. They may often be larger than one inch long. Sawfly feeding can vary from slight to severe. The larvae typically feed in groups, and it is not uncommon for feeding to occur on just a few branches, although a severe infestation can cover an entire plant. Sawflies attacking conifers feed on the surface of needles at first, leaving needles discolored, distorted, and straw-like. Handpicking may be the only control measure you need to control light infestations. Sawflies have several natural enemies that keep them in check, including predatory beetles, parasitic wasps, and viral and fungal diseases. Avoid using broad spectrum insecticides that will damage the beneficial insect population.

August 2021 23


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Gardener News August 2021  

Serving the Agricultural, Gardening, Landscaping and Nursery Communities

Gardener News August 2021  

Serving the Agricultural, Gardening, Landscaping and Nursery Communities

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