Muscadines have devastating Pierce’s disease

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 28, 2015

With the weather being as hot as it has been the past few weeks, I am thrilled to have a little break. With the cooler weather and fair approaching, our office has received numerous calls concerning fair entries and curious items being found in gardens. Read further to see what the latest inquiries are all about.

Question: I have been tending to my muscadines all summer to make sure that they have good fruit. Now, my leaves are changing colors. Is this due to the drought?

Answer: Fortunately, the client provided great photos for me to look at. Unfortunately, I wish I had been able to provide better news; the client’s muscadine had Pierce’s Disease. Pierce’s Disease is one of the most devastating diseases to the wine grape industry, but it rarely causes issues with muscadines.

After asking a few more questions, the client stated that they had Carlos, a variety of muscadine that is susceptible to Pierce’s disease. The symptoms of the disease usually start showing in our hottest months, July and August. That is when we start receiving calls.

Pierce’s disease will eventually cause death of the vine and once infected. There is nothing you can do to cure the disease. The disease is spread by leafhoppers and spittle bugs that transfer the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. The only thing to do is destroy the vine and plant a less susceptible variety. For more information on growing muscadines, visit: http://www.smallfruits.org/Muscadines/production/MuscadineGuide2003.pdf

Question: What kind of fertilizer do I need to put on my greens?

Answer: I know many people hate when I answer this question, but I always answer it with another question: Have you taken a soil sample? Soil sampling is not difficult and once analyzed, it takes away the question of how much and what kind of fertilizer is needed. It also saves you headaches and money from using a product that you probably didn’t need.

There are numerous other reasons, such as reducing waste, protecting the environment, etc. etc. But the great news is that testing is free until the end of November. All you have to do is come by the office, pick up the kit, hear my little speech, take your sample, and pay to send it to the lab in Raleigh. Then, in one to two weeks, your sample is ready, and I can help you understand what you need. Easy, right? Come visit me in the office, so I can get you set up.

Question: Will the Extension Master Gardeners have a fall plant sale?

Answer: If you missed the grand spring plant sale, you definitely missed a great event, but don’t stress too much; my wonderful volunteers will have a fall plant sale on Tuesday, Oct. 13, beginning at 3 p.m. Fall is a great time to plant — it helps encourage the plants to develop strong roots and not use their energy to create flowers or fruits.

Question: When can I enter my vegetables in the fair?

Answer: Entries are due Thursday, Sept. 24 and must be turned into our office (2727 Old Concord Road) by Friday, Sept. 18 at 5 p.m. For more information or to get the entry forms, visit: http://rowancountyfair.net/

If you would like more information on growing muscadines, soil sampling, Extension Master Gardener fall plant sale, or the Rowan County Fair, call your local agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.

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