AmericanFarm.com

Hot topics fill hot day at MNLA event

By CARYL VELISEK

Emerald Ash borer and Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs were still hot topics of conversation on a very hot day at this summer's MNLA (Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association) Field Day held June 21 at D. R. Snell Nursery's Dollyhyde Farm near Union Bridge, Md. Despite the intense heat, a large crowd turned out to hear the latest about MDA regulations, composting and nursery pests, and to take tours that included composting, pruning and digging demonstrations.
After a welcome from nurseryman Garet Bunting and introduction of some guests, including Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance, there was a review of new mulch and firewood regulations.
MDA Deputy Secretary Mary Ellen Setting spoke about Maryland's new lawn fertilizer law which takes effect Oct. 1, 2013, and includes new rules for homeowners and lawn care professionals.
"We are getting leaner and leaner at MDA," Setting said, "and are trying to maintain our outreach to other states about our services. We've been promoting seven dairies with on-site creameries throughout the state and also promoting our Chesapeake Bay Program and its cleanup issues and have introduced some nitrogen nutrient management rules."
The new guidelines are available on-line, she noted, and there is a great deal of help from the University of Maryland Extension Service, also.
Alan Jones and Warren Quinn gave an update on the American Nursery and Landscape Association, including a briefing on the 2012 farm bill and some Best Management Practices.
Nurserymen were urged to use native plants as much as possible because they require less fertilizer and often have a better survival rate. They were also urged to use a slow release form of nitrogen.
Brent Rutley, a Howard County nursery owner, and Bob Ensor from Carroll County spoke about the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, which Ensor said was his favorite soapbox.
"In the years I've worked with the program, we've seen some problems and some potential," Ensor said.  "But farmers in Maryland are doing an outstanding job. The bay is getting cleaner all the time. We have a proven scientific model farmers can plug into that tells if you meet TMDL limits. All six states in the watershed have TMDL loading regs, handled by MDA, and we try to figure out how to meet them."
Jason Pippen and Paula Shrewsbury of University of Maryland Extension, gave an update on invasive species and insects. Shrewsbury said the Emerald Ash Borer has been found in seven counties in Maryland and a lot of studies are being done to control them.
"There are guidelines available on the website," she said.
As for the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, "there are many stink bugs out there," Shrewsbury said, "and they are not all bad, but this one is one of the worst pests in 100 years. They are a nuisance to homeowners and we're still trying to figure out the damage to crops, although there is not as much damage on ornamentals as crops like corn and peaches."
Some pyrethrins are effective, she said, but it has been found the bugs recover from the sprays. Biological control is being looked at, also.
Susan Harrison, who is with the LEAD Maryland Foundation, thanked everyone for their support and noted LEAD is ramping up recruitment that is due Oct. 1, 2013, and encouraged application to the program.
Next on the program was an update on Japanese Maple Scale and the Asian Longhorned Beetle by Maryland Extension's, Stanton Gill, who brought with him some visuals including an enlarged model of the Asian Longhorned Beetle.
This particular pest is not in Maryland yet, but has been found in New York, Chicago  and recently in a 56-square-mile area in Ohio, Gill said. It is from China and is a "hitchhiker," he noted.
There is no good control as yet. The ALB prefers maples and horse chestnuts. Gill also had a trap being used with a mixture of maple leaves in effort to control the pest.
"It's a rather large beetle, so if it hits you in the face, you know it," he said.
Gill also gave a demonstration on the effects of the Japanese Maple Scale that has become epidemic in many states on the East Coast. It overwinters in Maryland, he said, as he explained the life cycle.
After lunch there were demonstrations on pruning, digging and composting. Jerry Faulring and Rick Snell gave the composting demonstration and Faulring noted, "In the nursery business we sell soil and we have to replace that soil and the organic matter in it."
He also noted that surface-applied compost gets the same results as that incorporated into the soil but over a longer period of time, and that it helps retain soil moisture.
In addtion to the speakers, there were brochures available on all of the issues discussed.