July 21, 2000

The Use of Gypsum and Lime on Lawns and Gardens

Lime and gypsum are valuable soil amendments in certain areas of the United States. Many gardeners in the eastern U.S. apply lime to their soils to improve plant performance. Gypsum can help overcome problems associated with sodic soils in arid regions of the west. In Iowa, however, the addition of lime to gardens and lawns is often unnecessary. Gypsum provides little or no benefit to most Iowa soils.

Growing, Harvesting and Storing Popcorn

Popcorn is currently one of America's favorite snack foods. However, it has been cultivated for several thousand years. Popcorn is one of the oldest types of corn with some types dating back to 3600 BC. There are two types of popcorn, pearl and rice. Pearl types have smooth and rounded kernels, while rice types have more elongated kernels. In addition to the variation in kernel shape, popcorn varieties are available in red, pink, blue, yellow, and multi-colored ears.

Collecting Samples for Vascular Wilt Testing

Oak wilt, Verticillium wilt, and Dutch elm disease are examples of vascular wilt diseases. The fungi that cause these diseases impair the treeÕs ability to conduct normal water flow, causing the classic wilting symptoms. Field diagnoses of vascular wilt diseases can be difficult, making it necessary to have an accurate laboratory diagnoses to determine proper management. There are a few easy collection guidelines that will help diagnosticians make an accurate diagnosis.

Flying Fuzz-Balls: Woolly Alder Aphid

A peculiar phenomenon reported around Iowa during early July, 2000, has been the unmistakable sight of small cottony white fuzz-balls flying through the air under their own power. If you are deft enough to gently catch one of the apparitions you see a plump bluish-black body and transparent wings pulling the cottony tuft through the air.