As I travel around the Florida parishes, I notice the cool spring weather has delayed growth of many fruit and vegetable crops.Tomato plants don’t seem to be as big, eggplants haven’t grown much at all, and cucumbers are maturing a little slower than normal. We are experiencing an unusually cool spring with a late freeze and a lot of rain. I expect there will be more disease problems with the cool, wet weather but do not dismay! Your vegetable crops should eventually pull through. Production may be set back a week or two but the weather forecast is predicting warmer weather this week and with that we should see a spur in plant growth.
Mayhaws and blueberries were hit hard by the late freeze. It occurred during the peak bloom period and blooms can’t handle a freeze very well.
If you have late blooming varieties you may still see a successful crop. Most of the early blooming varieties of both mayhaw and blueberries will have very little, if any, fruit.
Have you ever noticed a nasty, brown,leathery, rotten spot on the bottom of your tomatoes? This is a telltale sign of blossom end rot. Blossom end rot happens when the plant can’t take up enough calcium from the soil. It normally affects tomatoes but is occasionally seen in peppers and eggplants too.
There are different reasons for the plant not getting enough calcium. First, the soil may be deficient of calcium.This is an easy fix but requires a soil test to know for sure. Low soil pH is another cause of blossom end rot. Tomatoes like a soil pH of about 6.5. If the pH is too low, the plant cannot take up the nutrients it requires from the soil. Again, a soil sample is needed to determine soil pH. Lastly, soil moisture affects the plant’s ability to uptake nutrients. Periods of drought or over watering can cause the plant to have a calcium deficiency.
Here are some things I recommend doing if you have blossom end rot:
April through August is the best time to apply fertilizer to your lawn. A thick, healthy lawn is more resistant to weeds and other pests. I recommend taking a soil sample before you fertilize your lawn. This will give you specific fertilization requirements and also let you know if you need to apply lime or sulfur to adjust the pH of your soil. If you haven’t got a soil sample I can still give you some general recommendations.
First, you need to know what type of grass is in your lawn. Centipede and carpet crass are light feeders- they don’t need much nitrogen. Fertilizing centipede and carpet grass lawns twice per year will keep them happy. St. Augustine, Zoysia, or Bermuda lawns are heavy feeders and require a lot of nitrogen. Fertilize these 3-4 times per year. I always recommend that you make your first fertilizer application around April 15 and a second application around June 15. If you have a heavy feeding lawn, make a third application around August 15. Never make an application after mid-September because the grass needs time to harden off before the first frost.
Each species of grass has different nitrogen requirements. Centipede and carpet grass do well with one pound of actual nitrogen, per 1000 sq. ft., per year. Remember, the one pound of nitrogen needs to be split between two applications. If you use a general fertilizer, like 8-8-8, apply 6.25 lbs. of 8-8-8 per 1000 sq. ft. in April and again in June to equal the one pound of actual nitrogen required per year.St. Augustine, Zoysia, and Bermuda need about three pounds of actual nitrogen, per 1000 sq. ft., per year, split into three applications. Again, using 8-8-8, that would be 12.5 lbs. of 8-8-8 per 1000 sq. ft. in April, June, and August.
Lawn grasses do not need as much phosphorous as other nutrients. If you are consistent with fertilizing your lawn, use a special lawn fertilizer. Lawn fertilizers contain less phosphorus than nitrogen and potassium. The numbers will be different on the bag (phosphorous is the middle number) and if you have any trouble with the math, please give me a call!
The Leaflet is a newsletter for horticulturists. It is published three times per year. To subscribe to this publication please email Jessie Hoover at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessie Hoover is a County Agent with the LSU AgCenter covering horticulture in East Feliciana, West Feliciana, St. Helena, and Tangipahoa parishes. For more information on these or related topics contact Jessie at 225-683-3101 or visit the LSU AgCenter website.