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Problem & Solution
September/October 2017

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Blackberry Mayhem
P I have thornless blackberries in barrels for easier weed control. I’ve noticed for a couple years the new leaves turning yellowish with green veins, possibly iron chlorosis. What can I do organically to improve this condition? Also, my berries were not as sweet last year.

Tony Manasseri

Solution: Dr. Keven Ong, Texas Agrilife Extension plant pathologist, has this to say about your problem:

“The symptoms described sound like iron chlorosis. However, one must be careful in making a diagnosis as nutrient deficiency symptoms appear due to poor functioning of the root to uptake the nutrient. So here are some suggestions:

  1.  Check pH. Perhaps even do a soil test to determine the nutrient levels of the soil in the barrel.
  2. Make sure that the plant is not root bound as this can limit root and root function. If this is the case, then consider pruning — both root and top to help the plant manage nutrient needs.
  3. Make sure that the soil is not too wet and roots are not rotted. If they are, you may have to deal with water and/or pathogen issues.

“If pH and nutrient levels suggest that iron is lacking, chelated iron can be used to supplement iron. Depending on the inquirer’s definition of ‘organic,’ there is ‘organic-based chelated iron’ that is sold commercially. I believe that the USDA NOP standard does allow the use of iron in organic production systems.

“Anytime nutrient levels are affected, the outcome could affect the taste, yield and flavor.

“Have inquirer look at possible root-related issues prior to any application of iron-chelate product. If roots are bad, addition of iron chelate will not be very helpful.”

Seeking ‘Rosborough’
Problem: Monte Nesbitt’s “Blackberries in Texas” article in the July/August 2017 issue was very interesting. I’ve been looking for the ‘Rosborough’ descendant of ‘Brazos’ that he mentioned but haven’t found a source. Any ideas?

Linda Burpee

Solution: Womack Nursery in De Leon carries ‘Rosborough,’ but they only sell and ship during the dormant season (winter). They sell primarily bare-rooted plants that have to be dug and planted when dormant. Womack also carries most of the other varieties Monte Nesbitt recommended in his article. You can contact Womack at, or (254) 893-6797.

Salvia not Blooming
Problem: Both of my salvia plants have stopped blooming. I have a large bed of ‘Hot Lips’ salvia and a pink varietal. Both are getting full sun and were healthy in the spring. I used fish emulsion and phosphates to fertilize in the spring.

Wendy Beswick
San Antonio

Solution: Like many salvias, yours would benefit from a good shearing back. Then fertilize again as you did in the spring. This will encourage new growth and more blooms.

Mystery Bug
Problem: Can you identify the bug in this picture? It looks like an overgrown aphid to me, but I found a cluster on asparagus “berries” and gave them a shower of soapy water. The one pictured is from the next day.

Jerry Ryals

Solution: From your picture, Skip Richter thinks it is a young nymph of a leaf-footed bug — a very common garden pest and more difficult to control as an adult. You may need a big stick to control them once their bodies harden!