Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Long Range Forecasts Predict Drier Than Usual Year

By Steve Cummings

It is good to be back from the holidays.  Christine is recuperating and was in the office earlier than expected.  Pamela and April reported good holidays with their families.  I was not very successful as a hunter, but enjoyed my time in the woods.  We wish everybody a great 2009 as we get back into our work routines.  Be on the lookout for the 2009 programs.

 On January 19th, at 6:30 p.m., at the Multipurpose Building, Dr. Rocky Lemus, MSUES – Forage Specialist, will present a program on summer forages.  All cattle producers and hay producers need to attend this meeting.

 Also, on January 20th, at 10 a.m., at the Multipurpose Building the Yalobusha County Homemakers and Renesants Bank will conduct a travel program.  Renesant Banks’ trip will be highlighted.  This program is open to the public.

Horticulture Tips:

 Long range forecasts indicate a drier than normal year in 2009, particularly in the next few months. This is good news for many of us drying out after a much wetter than normal December. It does mean water should be part of planning for gardening this year.  

    You may want to plant drought intolerant plants like lettuce, tomatoes, bell pepper, squash and butter beans where it is easiest to irrigate and move crops that can tolerate dry conditions to areas where it is difficult to water.  Plant a few okra among the water lovers as an indicator plant. Okra is very drought tolerant, but it survives by quickly shutting the stomata in its leaves and the large leaves wilting are easy to see.

    Whenever okra wilts, it is time to water. Okra can be used in flower gardens as well. The red or green okras should be planted at the back to provide texture, color and height as well as the hibiscus-like blooms.

Now is the time to prune fruit trees. We have already experienced enough chill hours for many varieties to respond to a warm period. When pruning apples, pears and quince remember to cut several (at least 8) inches in from where fire blight damage is suspected and to disinfect the blades after each cut by dipping them in a  solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. Clean and oil the pruners after use since the bleach solution is corrosive.

 Most of us are delighted that our warm-season species lawns have gone dormant and we are enjoying a reprise from our weekly or more often mowing chore.  But we shouldn’t forget our lawn completely at this time.  There are a few things we can do that will ensure a more aesthetic and healthy lawn this spring.  

With the recent rains and cold wet soil we can much easier determine poor drainage areas and begin filling these with topsoil or determine drainage options. By now all the leaves should have fallen from trees so continue the removal of leaf litter from your lawn.  

Warm-season turf species will not benefit from fertilization until they are actively growing so make plans for a fertilization program but don’t apply any fertilizer now unless you have over seeded your lawn with a cool season species. Applying lime to raise the soil pH (acidity) is a different matter however.

If you have taken a soil sample and found that lime is recommended, then by all means get it out any time during the year.  Lime will improve the soil acidity and make nutrients more available when needed.

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