Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Ailing Blackberries, Lawn Irrigation, Okra Pests, and Fruit Identification

Damaged blackberries.

Blackberries white drupelet syndrome. Photo: Susan Ham, DeRidder, LA

Ailing Blackberries

Susan of DeRidder wanted to help her sister, “My sister would like to know what is affecting her blackberries. She is in northern Missouri. “Sarah Bailey, a Master Gardener Coordinator with the UCONN Extension Service, identified this condition as “as White Drupelet Syndrome, or disorder. There are a few possible reasons why this happens. The most common reason for blackberries and raspberries with spots is sunscald. Unseasonably warm and windy weather can cause this issue.”

Bailey recommends a couple of possible remedies for this disorder, “To prevent white drupelets, avoid planting in sunny areas that are prone to scorching summer winds. It may also help to orient your rows in a north-south facing position to minimize the effects of sunscald. Shading may be helpful as well; however, it is recommended only after pollination has already occurred. Shade-cloth to protect the plants from the afternoon sun can help.

Some [specialists] advise to use overhead watering twice a day to cool plants during hot weather (for 15 minutes between morning and afternoon) to help alleviate sunscald. The limited watering cools the plants but evaporates quickly. This method is not recommended in evening hours as there must be adequate drying time to prevent the onset of disease later.”

Common aquatic weeds.

Common aquatic weeds in Louisiana. Image: LSU AgCenter

Lawn Irrigation

Becky of Colfax asked a pro-active question about her yard, “We have a place in Toledo Bend and got a notice that the [Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF)] will be spraying the bay with florapyrauxifen-benzyl for aquatic vegetation.

We use an irrigation system using lake water. Will this be harmful to our plants?”

This herbicide is probably ProcellaCOR™, and it has low toxicity for people and fish according to the US EPA and various state agencies. It is also used in rice agriculture for broadleaf weeds and sedges.

Dr. Christopher Mudge, a research biologist with the US Army Corp of Engineers, offered this guidance, “I would play it safe and not irrigate. Foliar applications do not put much product out into the environment and most [of the herbicide] stays on the foliage, but surface applications result in sufficiently more herbicide into the water column. This will be an issue for most nontarget plants until product breaks down or goes away. The label has info on when the water can be used again but will be dependent on rate/concentration and how much of the water (%) is treated. LDWF should be contacted for this information.”

Damaged okra leaves.

Damage to okra leaves. Photo: Fred Carter, Jennings, LA.

Okra Pests

Fred, a gardener in Jennings, LA, asked, “[I have] damage to okra plants. Can you identify please?”Dr. Joe Willis, a horticulture agent in Orleans Parish, wrote a column about okra gardening, and in this article, he mentions specific pests attacking foliage:

Caterpillars (armyworms (beet, southern, and fall), cabbage looper, and corn earworm): The larvae of these lepidopteran insects chew on the leaves and cabbage looper, and corn earworm will also bore into the stem. Regular scouting for damage is the best means of monitoring. Control: All these insect larvae are effectively controlled using B.t. or Spinosad. Insecticides containing carbaryl or bifenthrin are also effective.

Greenbriar fruit.

Laurel greenbriar. Photo: Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter.

Fruit Identification

Charles visited the AgCenter and brought a fruit specimen for identification. His sample came from his landscape. He knew it was not a native grape.Charles has laurel greenbriar, and it grows well in wet areas, but it can grow on drier sites. This sample is from a female plant, and a male plant is needed for pollination.

According to the NC State Extension website, “The dense vine tangles provide nesting and hiding cover for birds and other wildlife. Black bears, songbirds, ruffed grouse, wide turkeys, and quail eat its fruits. White-tailed deer browse the leaves and twigs, especially in the winter.”

This website shared an interesting paragraph about its edibility, “The cooked root is rich in starch and can be dried and ground into a powder to be used as a flavoring in soups or for making bread. The young shoots when cooked can be used as a substitute for asparagus.”

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits, and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337.284.5188 or

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

7/19/2023 6:42:08 PM
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