Southeast Region (Hanson)
General Conditions: It has been a cooler than usual April with little rain. Hanson did receive 0.50 inchesof rain on April 26th but soils are still dry and could use more rain. The cool temperatures continue to slow plant development, and Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’, Magnolia ‘Wada’s Memory’, still in bloom, are just now starting to end bloom; after a dubious start due to cold weather, these magnolias have, surprisingly, been in flower for almost 3 weeks! Forsythia is still in bloom in some areas and ending bloom in others. Magnolia soulangiana (Saucer Magnolia), Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’, Cherry 'Holly Jolivette', Rhododendron ‘Olga Mezitt’, PJM Rhododendron, Pieris 'Brouwer's Beauty', Pieris floribunda (Mountain Pieris), Pieris japonica, Chaenomeles speciosa (Common Floweringquince), Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry), Spiraea prunifolia f. simplicifolia (Bridlewreath Spirea), Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’, Helleborus foetidus, Helleborus x hybridus, Glaucidium palmatum, Vinca, Pulmonaria, Trillium, Anemones, Lamium, Primula, Corydalis scouleri, Brunnera macrophylla, Ajuga, Lunaria, Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Multiplex’ (Double Bloodroot), daffodils,hyacinths, Muscari botryoides Grape Hyacinth), Chionodoxa luciliae, Stylophorum diphyllum (Wood Poppy), Phlox subulata, Pachysandra terminalis, Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman’s Breeches), Erythronium americanum (Trout Lily), Lathyrus vernus, Dwarf Bearded Iris, Violets and Tulips are in full bloom. With all these plants in bloom, we should be seeing a very colorful spring, but due to all the previously discussed cold damage to plants, this spring is decidedly lacking in spring color. Exochorda racemosa (Pearlbush), Epimedium sp., Saruma henryi, Corydalis lutea, and Arisaema (Jack-in-the-pulpit) are beginning bloom. Lonicera fragrantissima (Winter honeysuckle) which is just now ending bloom, began blooming in January, was injured by the cold in February, started blooming again February - March, was injured by the early April freeze and resumed flowering and is still in bloom. Strange spring. Lawns are green and mowing and cleanups are well underway.
Pests/Problems: As plants slowly start to develop, cold damage to them is becoming more visible. Flower bud damage was observed on: cherries, rhododendrons, peaches, apples, Corylopsis, Norway maple, blueberries, Arisaema, etc. Some branch dieback was also observed on Japanese maple, and some cherries. Butterfly bush and many cultivars of Hydrangea macrophylla are showing dieback to the ground with new foliage emerging from the base. The cool weather is delaying leaf expansion, providing a nice, safe, environs for winter moth caterpillars to develop and feed unnoticed (base 40 growing degree days are at 361). Look for leaves, Japanese maples for example, webbed together by the silk the caterpillars produce and find the tiny caterpillars (1st & 2nd instar) feeding within. Although the caterpillars are very small, they can cause damage, especially in this cool weather where the leaves are not expanding very quickly. In many areas, oak and red maple buds have not expanded but winter moth caterpillars were found down in the buds. Continue to monitor oak, tree lilac, birch, crabapple, apple, American beech, maples, and other susceptible plants, for winter moth caterpillars and manage as needed. Amelanchier (shadbush) is a good indicator plant for monitoring gypsy moth hatch and Amelanchier is now in full bloom. Bright red lily leaf beetle is active on true lilies; monitor and manage as needed. Black flies have emerged and are annoyingly very active. Monitor for European pine sawfly on pines, especially hard-needled pines, like Mugo pine, and manage when found, as these sawflies can devour the new pine foliage very quickly, if not treated. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) does not work on sawfly larvae. Monitor crabapples, cherries, etc. for Eastern tent caterpillars and their webs, and remove and destroy webs and caterpillars. Continue to monitor for Hemlock woolly adelgid, mosquitoes, deer ticks, wasps, carpenter bees, bumblebees, ants, honeybees, solitary bee, boxelder bugs and snowball aphids on viburnum. The following weeds are in bloom: veronica, ground ivy, Ranunculus ficaria, violet, dandelion and chickweed. Vole damage to the crowns of Hosta and Epimedium continue to show up; look for thinning crowns. With the recent rain, the orange, jelly-like galls of cedar-apple rust (Gymnosporangium) were found on Eastern red cedar. Hummingbirds have returned to the Plymouth County with a report from Kingston on April 27th; time to put out the feeders.