Temperamental summer brings lots of questions

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 18, 2014

SALISBURY — Even though the temperatures have been hot, people are still going outside checking their gardens and visiting local farmers. This week we have received quite a few questions about insects, disease and what is going on in the farming community.

Question: Is this a beneficial insect?
Answer: Yes. Since the previous article on good bugs and bad bugs, our office has received numerous calls, samples and photographs from clients wanting insects identified. In this submitted photo is a great example of a wheel bug. This beneficial insect will eat numerous insects and sometimes even other beneficials. They will eat caterpillars, Japanese beetles, fall webworms, cabbageworms and have been reported to eat numerous other insects. In the photo submitted, this wheel bug is on a corn stalk, possibly looking for corn ear worms and other caterpillars. If you see this beneficial insect, do not pick it up. It will pierce your skin with their mouth piece and it can be quite painful.

Question: I believe I have a disease on my tomatoes. All of them have black spots on the bottom. What is this and how can I get rid of it?
Answer: This is not a disease, this is actually blossom end rot and that is why the “rot” is on the bottom of the tomatoes. This is a calcium deficiency and is usually the problem if gardens are not limed properly. It can also happen when there is infrequent watering. We always recommend a soil sample to make sure the soil is at the proper pH. If you have this problem, there is not a cure. Calcium foliar spray (spray to apply to the leaves of the tomatoes) will help alleviate the symptoms, but it will not remove them entirely. I also want to mention that disease has been rampant this year and we have already received cases of blight on tomatoes, so if you think you have a disease, you need to get it identified as soon as possible.
Question: I was traveling through South Carolina and some of the peach growers stated they had a hard winter and lost some peaches. Will we have some North Carolina peaches this year?
Answer: Peaches are in full swing. I spoke to one of our peach growers, Kevin Huffman, who owns Huffman’s Peaches located at 4825 Goodman Lake Road, and some of the best peach varieties are being harvested right now. July is the best month for peaches and some of the varieties being harvested right now are Winblo, Redhavens, Clayton’s and Norman’s.
A few white peaches will be picked at the end of this week.
The famous Contender’s should be ripening up by the end of next week as long as the weather cooperates.

For more information on pests, disease and produce coming in season call the Extension office at 704-216-8970.