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March 10, 2011     Tri-County News
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March 10, 2011
 

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Thursday, March 10, 2011 Tri-County News Kimball, MN Page 11 Pruning fruit trees By lanelle Daberkow, O of M Extension A common question that comes up this time of year is, "When is it time to prune our trees?" This is actually a common question throughout the entire year, and the answer to this largely depends on the type of tree or shrub you are intending to prune. Mid-February through the first week in April is the recommended time to prune fruit trees. This time is known as the late dormant season. Pruning during this time minimizes the possibility of fireblight in cra- bapples, apples, and pears, as well as minimizes canker diseases in plum and cherry trees. When pruning dur- ing spring and stunmer months, the chance of infection and spread of diseases by insects increases. Autumn or early winter pruning is likely to result in drying and die-back at priming sites. Also, prtming too early in the dormant season leaves the potential for wounds to crack and dry out which delays the healing of the wound. Pruning fruit trees dur- ing the late dormant season reduces the potential disease spread and branch die-back. Pruning during this late winter time also promotes rapid wound closure when pruned prior to shoot emergence, and allows the pruner to see the tree's structure, hav- ing no leaves present during these months. Other trees such as oaks, ash and elms can also be pruned during this late dormant season. Some trees such as maple, wal- nut, honeylocust and birch are "bleeders" when pruned in late winter or early spring. This oozing sap is annoying when it drips on cars and sidewalks, but there is no conclusive research that supports it being harmful to the tree. If this sap flow is a concern, prune these species in early winter, or after they have leafed out in spring. If it is necessary to prime these trees dur- ing this time of year, they should be fine, if they have no more than one quarter of their canopy removed. When priming, it is important to use strong, quality, and well-sharp- ened tools. Quality equipment when cared for properly can last for many years. Making an investment into proper tools is a wise choice. The home gardener would not go wrong having these three basic pnming tools: a pair of lopping shears, a pair of pruning shears, and a good prun- ing saw. Use these tools as they are directed, and be sure to keep them sharpened and cleaned after use. Priming is a ~v.at way to promote plant health, improve plant appear- ance, and keep up with plant main- tenance. Start priming your fruit trees by removing any broken, dead or dis- eased branches. Cut out any thin or weak wood and remove branches that droop because of heavy weight loads of fruit from previous years. Remov- ing these types of branches will go a long way to promoting air flow and light penetration through the tree and improve plant health. Remove branches that have narrow or weak crotch angles, as these branches are more likely to split over time. When heading back branches, it is impor- tant to cut just before a bud on the upper side of the branch, so that the branch that develops will grow upwarcl rather than downward. When remov- ing branches, make cuts as close to the tnmk or branch as possible, but just outside of the branch collar. The branch collar is the swollen area around the branch where it attaches to the tree. Cutting outside of the branch collar is important so the stem tissue is not injured. This allows the tree to seal itself in a short amount of time and have the least amount of surface area disturbed as possible. Flush cutting against the tnmk will impair the new tissue and the wood will heal slowly. Never leave large stubs, as they encour- age rotting into the heartwood of the SWROC climate change grant A new $20 million grant will involve research onkeeping Mid- west corn-based cropping sys- tems resilient in the face of future climate uncertainties. The grant, announced Feb. 18, bythe Depart- ment of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) involves nine land- grant universities, including the University of Minnesota. A team of 42 scientists from the universities and two USDA Agri- cultural Research Service institu- tions in eight north-central states will collect and analyze data over the next five years. The region pro- ~duces 8 billion bushels of corn, which is 64 percent of the annual harvest in the United States. Researchers will begin, collect- ing data on carbon, nitrogen and water movement this spring from 21 research sites in the eight states. Special equipment will be used to monitor greenhouse gas emissions at many of the sites. The team will integrate field and climate data to create models and evaluate crop management practices. ]effStrock, UniversityofMinne- sota associate professor of soil sci- ence, will be collecting data from a site in southwest Minnesota on a cooperating farmer's field. The Minnesota research is focused on field-scale drainage water man- agement and will include mea- surements of soil quality, green- house gas emission, crop and plant production, and water qual- ity. Drainage water management has the potential to reduce the impact of climate change on the productivity of agricultural sys- tems by providing opportuni- ties to increase water use effi- ciency and decrease nitrogen loss through drainage systems. "This type of interdisciplinary research enables us to integrate and coordinate research, extension and education," said Allen Levine, dean of the U of M's College of Food, Agricul- tural and Natural Resource Sciences. "This project will help both scientists and the agricultural industry identify and define cornbased cropping sys- tems that are productive and resil- ient in the face of weather uncertain- ties and risks." The grant, one of three announced Friday, is part of USDA- NIFKs program on decreasing green- house gas emissions and increas- ing carbon sequestration. The long- term national outcome is to reduce the use of energy, nitrogen and water by 10 percent and increase carbon sequestration by 15 percent through resilient agriculture and forest pro- duction systems. The grant is part of the USDA- NIFA Coordinated Agricultural Program. This project's research- ers include agronomists, agricul- tural engineers, environmental sci- entists, hydrologists, soil scientists, sociologists, watershed engineers and natural resource scientists. Fol- low the project's progress on the SWROC website at htrp://swroc.cfans. umn.edu/ResearchandOutreach/Soil Management/index.htm. tree. To prevent tom bark and wounds when removing large branches, first undercut the branch about half way through at a foot from the tnmlc Then cut from above at a point an inch or two from the undercut, and finally cut offthe stub that remains. Consider hir- ing a professional to prone large trees as it can be a very difficult and a poten- tially dangerous job for a single or inex- perienced person. Finally, what about the wound- dressing question? Research has shown that wound dressings are not advantageous and may actually slow the formation of callous tissue that provides a seal over the wound. Trees do better healing themselves than when a paint or dressing is applied to a pruning site. An exception to this is oak trees that must be primed during the growing season. Such wounds should immediately be covered with two coats of a latex paint or shellac to discourage sap beetles from visit- ing the wound. Sap beetles, as their name indicates, are attracted to the flesh sap and may be carrying the oak wilt fungus. Kimball, Minn.. (320) 398-5000