Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Fall Blooms, Town Ants, Common Persimmon, & Summer Temperatures

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Azaleas blooming after storm stress. Photo: Birgitt Thurman

Fall Blooms

Here is another item related to recent hurricanes. Birgitt observed an unusual fall event and asked, “Can you tell me what about a hurricane causes plants to bloom completely out of season? I planted these native azaleas in the spring, they bloomed, and now they are blooming again. Right after Laura all the Bradford Pears in the neighborhood were covered in blooms, too.”

The Encore™ azaleas will bloom in the fall. However, Birgitt is correct in suspecting a relationship between storm stress and unseasonal blooming. AHA consulted with Dr. Heather Kirk-Ballard who brings the Get It Growing column, addressed this issue of storm stress on plants, “This can be a stress mechanism. Plants that are stressed flower earlier than normal to ensure their reproductive success. So, the flooding and high winds could lead to this high stress and induce flowering.” The winds affect plants in two ways: defoliation and root damage, and the blooms may be responding to those causes.

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A worker town ant. Photo: LSU AgCenter.

Town Ants

Wayne and Ruth are dealing with a regular pest and is looking for a treatment, “What is the best way to get rid of a huge town of chisel head ants? 🥴.” “Chisel head ants” is another name for “Texas leaf cutting” or “town” ants.

These ants clip leaves to grow a fungal crop underground to feed the colony. They can defoliate large trees and weaken roadbeds and home foundations. The AgCenter publishes the Louisiana Insect Pest Management Guide which reports these treatments for town ants:

  • Amdro Ant Block™; a dry bait formulation.
  • PTM™; a liquid treatment applied directly to the colony’s exit holes.

As always, follow the label instruction for safe and effective treatment.

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Leaves of a common persimmon. Photo: Barney Barger.

Common Persimmon

Barney regularly asks RSFF to help with identifying trees in a natural landscape. He sent an image of some leaves on a tree sapling.

The leaves in Barney’s picture is a common persimmon, a native fruit tree.

Dr. Heather Kirk-Ballard recently wrote about persimmons in her Get It Growing column, “Persimmons, in my humble opinion, are highly underrated fruit. I do not know many people who grow and eat them, but they are an excellent fruit. And they grow well in Louisiana…Some are astringent (the kind that make your face pucker), and some are sweet and juicy with a unique texture. We got to try both.

These beautiful, orange-colored fruits are packed with nutrients. They have a great deal of fiber and are a great source of vitamins A, C and E, potassium, manganese, thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folate, magnesium, and phosphorus. They have lots of antioxidants and other plant chemicals important to our health.” Also, we are entering the best season to plant trees and woody shrubs so if you are thinking about growing fruit trees, consider this native fruit as part of your edible landscape plants.

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A standard weather monitoring station at one of the Research Stations across Louisiana. Photo: LSU AgCenter.

Summer Temperatures

The AgCenter maintains a system of weather station across Louisiana to record weather condition with respect to agricultural production. Dr. Randy Price, a specialist in agricultural engineering, maintains and monitors the weather station at the Dean Lee Research Station south of Alexandria. He recently reported a summary of temperatures for the growing season in 2020, “For those of you interested in the effect of temperature on the seasonal yields, the mean (average) ambient air temperature from May 1st to August 31st was on average 2 degree colder than last year averaging 78.7 deg. F versus 81 deg. F in 2019. Also, the mean maximum temperature per day was much cooler than last year averaging only 87 degrees per day versus 97 degrees last year. In Louisiana, where heat is a large factor on crop growth, this year should have been a better year for crop growth. As more data is gathered next year, we will look at per region effects. Note that the LSU AgCenter weather sites can be found at: https://weather.lsuagcenter.com/ .

After losing air conditioning because of hurricane Laura and then cleaning up in the late August heat, AHA expected the opposite result about the summer in 2020. However, hard numbers speak for themselves, so our summer was a little cooler than the summer of 2019. Also, these data are available at the website listed if you want to factcheck the temperatures for yourself.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006 or khawkins@agcenter.lsu.edu. Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“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.”

11/30/2020 7:40:32 PM
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