Problems crop up with fruit trees and squash plants

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 31, 2013

SALISBURY — Temperatures are warmer, enticing plants to grow at a normal pace. Often accompanying our warmer weather are windy conditions. Make sure plants have sufficient supplies of water during windy conditions. Many plants will wilt at the heat of day.
Though wilting is normal in some conditions, plants that wilt in the early morning hours need moisture.
Many people have called or emailed this week with questions. Below are samples of questions that may be of interest.
Question: I want to recycle my plastic plant containers and pots but a friend of mine told me they could not be recycled. Is this true?
Answer: Yes, for now. There are a number of reasons why plastic flower pots and other containers cannot be recycled. Continue to include them in your normal waste stream.
Question: My fruit trees seem to be dropping fruit for no apparent reason. I sprayed them and the fruit looks very good. What could be causing my fruit to drop?
Answer: Fruit drop occurs any time the tree comes under stress. Survival is the priority for the tree and dropping fruit is a normal function. Stress from too much fruit set on the tree is a common problem. Both peaches and apples need to be thinned now to reduce fruit drop and promote healthy, flavorful fruit. Visit the website for more detailed information on fruit tree production.
Question: My squash plants are very healthy with large leaves. I fertilized them heavily, but the squash will not grow and get any size. What can be the problem?
Answers: Lack of bees for pollination is probably the problem. If there is no pollination, the squash fruits will fail to grow into larger fruits. Even though the weather has been warm the past few days, it has been relatively cooler in the evenings and the early mornings which can limit bee activity. Avoid use of pesticides around squash or other cucurbits. Bees will eventually come back and pollinate the plant. Also, in some situations, over fertilization will stimulate growth and limit fruit production.
Question: I have a strange weed that looks like snow in my yard. What is this weed and how do I control it?
Answer: The weed many have called about is facelis (Facelis retusa). It is commonly called tramp weed. The unusual weather patterns experienced over the past few weeks create perfect growing conditions for the weed. Weed specialists at N.C. State University reveal that this is a winter annual that has produced seed for next year and will die out in several weeks. The weed is non-existent in situations where the lawn is thriving and well irrigated. Mowing extremely close, less than 3 inches, also promotes weed growth. Glyphosate (Roundup) is the only logical method of weed control at this time, but since the weed is a winter annual, pre-emergence weed control in the fall is the other option. However, it seems like the best method of control is good cultural practices.
Darrell Blackwelder is the county Extension director with horticulture responsibilities with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Learn more about Cooperative Extension events and activities by calling 704-216-8970 or online at