Q. Is it true that the red maple trees written about last week in the Garden Tips column are poisonous?
A. The leaves of red maples are poisonous to horses, but not to other livestock or to humans. The leaves are highly toxic to horses, especially wilted leaves in the summer and fallen leaves in autumn. The toxin is believed to be gallic acid that causes methemoglobinemia, a type of hemolytic anemia that is deadly for a horse. Three pounds of leaves is likely to be lethal. Do not plant a red maple where the leaves will fall or blow into the area where a horse is pasturing or where the leaves could find their way into hay bales.
Q. Is there a chemical that will stop fruit production on fruit trees?
A. Florel is a plant growth regulator that, when applied during bloom, inhibits the development of fruit. The active ingredient, Ethephon, is nontoxic and converts quickly to ethylene when it comes in contact with plant material. The only nonchemical way to stop fruit production is by removing all the flowers by hand or remove the tree.
Q. There are bugs all over my pumpkin plants. The bugs are dark brown with a black spot on the back. What are they?
A. The insects attacking the pumpkins and other squash probably are squash bugs. Squash bugs will cause leaves to turn yellowish and cup downward. Fruit that has been attacked by squash bugs will become deformed and will not store well.
Q. How much does it cost to be a 4-H member and a 4-H volunteer?
A. No costs are required to join 4-H. Sometimes an individual club may assess a fee to seed their treasury for activities, manuals, insurance, special events, etc. However the club must ensure that the dues are never a barrier to joining. Members will have to purchase their own project manuals and materials. Each 4-H volunteer determines what his or her personal investment is, usually determined by the role and extent of involvement they have chosen. In exchange for their commitment of time, WSU Extension Leader materials, workshops and training seminars are provided at little or no cost.
* Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.