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Archive for Sunday, June 29, 1997

GARDEN BRIEFS

June 29, 1997

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— "Comb" new growth on grape vines, advises Frank Morrison, fruit crop horticulturist for K-State Research and Extension.

"When they're hanging down, new shoots get greater exposure to sunlight," Morrison explains. "That helps the shoots and the plant as a whole build up the strength they'll need to mature this year's crops and get through the coming winter and then to produce lots of grapes next year."

Blackberries signal

danger with orange

Manhattan -- Blackberry leaves with bright-orange, waxy postules on the underside are a danger -- to themselves and other blackberry plants.

Those postules signal a highly contagious plant disease called orange rust, says Frank Morrison, K-State Research and Extension horticulturist.

"Remove the infected vines as soon as possible," he advises. "Burn them, if you can. If not, place them in a plastic bag that you can seal or tie; then let your trash collector haul them away."

Borers aren't picky

about stones

Manhattan -- Peach tree borers can attack all trees that produce "stone" fruits -- including plums, cherries and apricots, as well as peaches.

To prevent borer damage, tree owners must spray the trunk and base of lower limbs in late spring or early summer, using an insecticide approved for controlling this pest, says horticulturist Frank Morrison. Insecticides with a proven track record in Kansas include chlorphyrifos (Dursban), Thiodane, and some formulations of Lindane.

"Chlorphyrifos will require just one application. Lindane and Thiodane typically require more, applied at three-week intervals," says Morrison, the fruit specialist for K-State Research and Extension.

Thin fruit tree

to spur production

Manhattan -- One of the hardest chores for any fruit-loving gardener is to remove apples, pears, peaches or plums before they have a chance to grow to maturity.

"On heavily loaded trees, however, that's about the only way to improve fruit size and prevent limbs from breaking. It's also an important way to make sure you'll have a good crop next year," says Frank Morrison, fruit crop horticulturist for K-State Research and Extension.

If apples are clustered, remove all but one from each cluster, Morrison advises.

"Start by picking off the insect- or disease-damaged fruit. Then take any that are smaller than average," he adds.

For best growth, apples and pears need 4 to 6 inches of space per fruit. Plums and prunes do well growing 4 to 5 inches apart, Morrison says.

Peaches needs vary more widely, however. Early-producing trees require up to 8 inches of space per peach, while late producers need fruit growing 4 inches apart.

"Once you've thinned fruit, you'll begin to understand the logic," the horticulturist says. "The requirements all relate to the fact that a tree has a limited amount of nutrients to use in manufacturing fruit.

"If the tree must spread its nutrients too far, this year's fruits may be numerous, but they'll also be small. And since the tree forms next year's buds at the same time, it won't have the energy for that, either."

-- From J-W Wire Reports

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