Q. My sweet corn has large black puffy growths on the ear. What is this and what should I do about it?
A. The large black puffy growth is probably corn smut (Ustilago maydis). The smut galls should be removed from the plant on detection and burned, buried or thrown away. Some varieties are less susceptible to this fungal organism. The spores can travel great distances when airborne and can survive in the soil. Removal before the galls burst is important to mitigate further outbreaks. Corn smut galls are considered a delicacy in some parts of Mexico.
Q. Do we have brown recluse spiders in our area?
A. No, the brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa) is only found in south-central United States. Outside of that area, 80 percent of the brown recluse bites diagnosed by physicians based on the symptoms are false reports. Rod Crawford, arachnid curator for the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, indicates that “in such areas as the Pacific coast states, it is safe to say that 100 percent of the reports of brown recluse bites are errors, and the vast majority (perhaps 95 percent) are not spider bites of any kind.”
Q. I’ve had my walnut tree for two years and it’s always been fine, but this year I have big blisters on the bottom of the leaves. What is wrong?
A. The blisters are usually caused from a blister mite. These mites do not damage the walnut, but can make the leaf look ugly. The best control is to actually not treat the tree, but to avoid broad spectrum pesticides that kill the predatory mites. On young trees like this, you can also remove and dispose of the infected leaves.
Q. I’m new to 4-H and plan on having a large animal project. For animal health products, what are “withdrawal times”?
A. Withdrawal time refers to the amount of time that is required for a health product to be metabolized and cleared from the animal’s body. You can find this information on the drug packaging and the label insert. The label will tell you the number of days that must elapse from administration of the product before an animal can be slaughtered for food. It is extremely important for all producers to follow the label directions regarding the specific product, dosage, route and frequency of administration to prevent violative drug residues in the meat. Following label directions and applicable laws ensure safe and wholesome meat products for consumers.
To submit a question for this column, please call the WSU Extension office in Kennewick at 509-735-3551.