Yellow flower, cicadas prompt questions

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 13, 2011

By Darrell Blackwelder
For the Salisbury Post
SALISBURY — Plants are blooming, weeds are growing and insects are becoming an annoyance, sparking numerous e-mails and phone conversations. Below are some questions that Cooperative Extension has received over the past few days.
Q: I have a pasture that is full of a weed that has a yellow, tall flower. They are in full bloom now and are all over the county. How do I get rid of them?
A: “One man’s flower is often another man’s weed.” With apologies to Clyde, your weed is probably false dandelion. It can grow either as a winter annual or a biennial. Specialists at N.C. State University recommend you maintain a dense, active fescue through proper mowing, fertilizing and watering practices. It is best to control this biennial broadleaf weed in spring or fall, if actively growing at these times. Use a post-emergence broadleaf weed herbicide labeled for pastures.
Q: I have the strange noise in my woods that is driving me crazy. It goes on all night long. My neighbors are complaining. What is this noise and how do I control it?
A: Sounds like your cicadas have arrived. Some refer to these as 17 year locusts, but these are not true locusts. There are several species of periodical cicadas. Some emerge on 13-year cycles and some emerge on 17-year cycles. Periodical cicadas sing and fly in spring, whereas other species of cicadas are active during the summer. There is really no practical control for the insect. Go to for more complete information about the insect and its life cycle.
Q: My magnolia tree is dropping a lot of leaves. Is there a problem with the magnolia trees in our area?
A: Magnolias and other evergreen trees naturally drop leaves and replace them each year. It is very common and your trees should be OK.
Q: I have some squash that are rotting on the end. I am giving them plenty of water. What can cause them to rot like this?
A: Blossom end rot is commonly thought of as a problem that affects tomatoes but it can also affect squash and other vegetables. Blossom end rot in squash and other vegetables is due to a calcium deficiency. This can be exacerbated by lack of water, too much water, cold weather and other forces that can stress a plant. When a plant doesn’t get proper amounts of calcium while the fruit is developing, cells don’t develop correctly, especially on the end of the fruit which grows the fastest.
Make sure the soil is properly limed and irrigate correctly.
Darrell Blackwelder is the County Extension Director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Learn more about Cooperative Extension events and activities by calling 704-216-8970 or online