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Black cherry trees can be dangerous

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By Steve Moore

When you drive through the rolling land in Henry County, you can find many black cherry trees, including some in farm fencerows. While standing upright, there is not much danger, but if one of these trees or a limb falls in a windstorm, there can be problems for livestock.

The leaves of black cherry trees, especially wilted ones, are high in cyanic acid, which can kill livestock by depriving them of oxygen. You can reduce the likelihood of livestock losses due to wild black cherry trees by cutting them out of fencerows.

If you are going to take out a tree, it is important to do it properly to reduce sprouting and recurrence. Black cherry trees will sprout from the cut stump and from the roots. One of the quickest ways to eliminate sprouting is to use a ‘cut stump’ herbicide labeled for controlling black cherry in pasture or fencerows. If you don’t use herbicides, you can expect sprouting, and you’ll probably have to cut several times to exhaust the food supply to the roots. This could take several years.

Smaller trees can be taken out with herbicides that are labeled for foliage application of brush and trees. Foliar applications work best after trees have fully leafed out.

Check product labels for restrictions on pasturing and entry into treated areas. Generally, livestock should not be allowed access to areas where trees have been sprayed until the trees have been removed or wilting foliage is no longer present.

Cut stump applications generally carry less environmental risks than foliar applications because you apply the herbicide directly to the target plant with less risk of overspray and non-target exposure.

Once our trees have leaved out this spring and summer, livestock producers need to be watchful for every storm which may topple a black cherry tree, making sure livestock don’t have access to the wilted deadly leaves.

MOSS IN LAWN AREAS

We get calls from time to time about moss in lawn areas. While the caller usually wants advice on how to get rid of it, moss should not always be considered a weed pest. It generally doesn’t crowd out our grasses, and it does provide soil cover on unprotected soil surface.

Mosses establish in lawn areas where turf is thin or absent. It usually is associated with conditions such as: shady areas that remain wet for long periods of time; areas with poor surface drainage; and areas with poor circulation. With any of these conditions, turf grasses thin out and moss increases. If you can correct these conditions, then you have a good shot at tilling up the area and reseeding to turfgrass. Otherwise, it may be best to simply leave it alone and allow it to protect your soil from erosion.

SPRING FREEZE/FROST

Finally, it looks like spring! Folks are busy with lawn mowing and preparing for fruit and vegetable production around the home, getting forage seedings accomplished, and getting ready to plant corn. The question comes up: When might we be completely free of the risk of frost or freeze?

The National Climatic Data Center has weighed in on this question with some probability levels for temperatures which reach 28, 32, and 36 degrees F. Since we know that our temperatures in Henry County are usually somewhat colder than the Airport in Louisville, I’ve determined to use the Northern Ky Airport and Lexington Data instead. The probability that we COULD see a drop to 32 degrees exists till May 18.

That said, what is a gardener to do? To be pretty safe, we normally can put out frost vulnerable crops such as Tobacco and Tomatoes, etc. on Derby weekend.

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