Saturday, July 17, 2010

garden update-tobacco-pests and issues

The tobacco is finally doing quite well and is in a nice growth spurt. Unfortunately, this also brings the pests in to wreak havoc on the crop. While we have been fighting a bit with aphids over the last few weeks, the worms are just beginning to show up. These fellers do a lot of damage in very little time so it is important to spend one on one time with each of your plants on a daily or near daily basis to keep issues under control.

The following  two  pictures are of damage done to a plant in approximately 24 hours by worms. The worms have tell tale signs that they leave behind on the leaves. Large holes and chunks are generally gone from the plant and there is almost always worm poop left behind. The poops  generally show up near the stalk and where leaves attach. The poops are little round balls  that are black. When finding worm  damage the easiest control method is to  physically inspect each plant carefully. This means looking at the tops and bottoms of every leaf on all of the plants. The worms  get very large and ugly if allowed to and will decimate a crop in short order.
The next picture is of the aphids. They are difficult to see in the picture but they are the little reddish colored  things on the lower right side. These fellers are always on the underside of the  leaves and while their damage is not near as quick to destroy  a crop they can and will if left unchecked over time. For these guys we use  one cup  of 70% or greater isopropyl alcohol  with a tablespoon of castile soap  in a quart of water and spray the plants on the underside of the affected plants. The spray will kill them and they turn a nice shade of black. Never spray plants with this in the heat of the day as it will kill them. Repeat the treatment as needed.
The last issue we tend to find with the tobacco is  a folding over of  the leaves on some plants. I have no idea why this happens as  we never see any damage on the plants  that this happens too but if left upside down, the leaves  snap off much easier in wind and rains.Do be sure to inspect the plant for any other signs or symptoms of disease or infestation to be sure it is simply a screwy leaf. To fix the leaf, gently turn  it back over  from near where it connects to the stalk and work it back to  the upright position. Once this is done they  generally are fixed.
Soon, suckering and topping the plants will be needed on a regular basis along with your inspections. Remember too that the tobacco is now getting all  its toxins so be sure to wash your hands well before playing in the rest of the gardens  and NEVER touch or go in to your tomato patch after  working the tobacco.

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