By Brent Gray
The Livestock Shows are over now. The District Show was held in Batesville on January 17-19. The Dixie National Livestock Show was February 1-7 in Jackson. Yalobusha County was represented very well by Major Weldon. Major finished fifth and ninth at the Dixie National with his commercial Heifers. We are very proud of Major and his accomplishments, and thank you for your representation.
Last week I was in Jackson working the Livestock Show and when I got back home I found out that I was married. Well, I’m really not. I wasn’t here last week to do my article so we used one from David Nagel (Horticulturist for MSU) and he mentioned that his wife’s birthday was in February. It has been so funny that everybody has been asking me when did I get married and why I didn’t tell anyone. Just a little misunderstanding! Now on to some Fruit Tree tips and Tips on Spring Fertilizer Applications.
Area nurseries and farm supply stores should be receiving their fruit trees now. Growing and harvesting your own tree-ripened fruit can be a very rewarding experience. To get the best quality apples, pears, peaches and plums you should follow a yearly schedule of pruning, spraying, fertilizing and thinning of fruit. You also should select your fruit trees based on where you live in Mississippi. Check with local nurserymen to see what they recommend and also check with your County Extension office for a publication P0966, Fruit and Nut Recommendations for Mississippi, which has information on recommended fruit tree varieties for Mississippi.
For whatever reasons you want to grow your own fruit, there are some things you need to consider. Choose a site for your trees that is well drained. Planting on a slope would help take care of that problem and planting on a northern slope would be even better. Since northern slopes take longer to warm up in spring, this would help to delay spring bloom; thereby lessening the chance of losing your blooms to an early spring freeze–an all too frequent occurrence.
You can purchase fruit trees, bareroot, in plastic sacks or in pots. Research has shown potted fruit trees have a much higher survival rate than the others, but, of course, the cost is usually higher. This holds true for potted pecan trees also.
When you plant your tree, dig the hole only as deep as the pot, but make the hole at least twice as wide as the pot. Digging the hole only as deep as the pot keeps the root ball from sinking too deeply in the hole as time passes. Widening the hole makes it easier for the new feeder roots to grow out of the sides of the root ball into the loosened backfill soil.
Pruning, fertilizing and spray schedules are chores that can get complicated if you don’t have some guidance. The county agent’s office has free publications and information sheets that take the mystery out of all these procedures. Especially helpful are the insect and disease control publications for fruit trees. For the apple and pear schedule ask for Publication 736 and for insect and disease control on peaches and plums insect ask for Publication 568. All Extension publications can be viewed and downloaded from the msucaes.com website as well.
Spring Application Pros And Cons
Fertilizer granules provide a simple and easy carrier to distribute pre-emerge herbicides that must be applied to our lawns prior to weed seed germination if the herbicide is to be effective. However, there is a downside to using many of these weed and feed fertilizers in the spring for our Southern lawns. Many of these fertilizers are formulated with high nitrogen contents for cool-season turf species that can utilize the nitrogen at this time of the year. These fertilizers put on our dormant warm season turf species now will more than likely only feed winter weeds that will compete for space as our lawns begin their flush of spring growth. With too early nitrogen fertilization you may also be setting your lawn up for cold injury from a late season freeze. Therefore, my suggestion is if you use a weed and feed fertilizer as a carrier for your pre-emerge herbicide try to find a fertilizer formulation that is low in nitrogen or at least one that the nitrogen source is in a slow release form. Preferably wait until you have mowed the lawn at least twice before applying high nitrogen fertilization to warm-season turf species.
Adding compost or other organic materials to the vegetable garden soil is an ongoing chore that many of us neglect and the ones of us who do don’t think of the nutrients that we are adding. Most well digested compost winds up with about a 1-1-1 N-P-K content on a dry weight basis. Using an estimate of five pounds of 35% moisture compost per gallon, adding a gallon of compost per 10 square feet of garden applies nitrogen equivalent to about 140 pounds per acre. About half of this is available to the growing vegetables. This is sufficient nitrogen for many crops.
Now is the time to be starting warms season transplants. You may want to wait another couple of weeks for eggplant or okra, but last frost dates for much of Mississippi are less than eight weeks away.
Baby pac choi has acquired some new names since it has become so popular.Ching chiang choy or Shanghai bok choi are a couple of new names for varieties of Chinese cabbage that produce small, loose headed bundles of leaves with flat petioles. As is typical with popular names the same vegetable is called both pac choi and bok choi. These quick growing greens are used in stir fry and to stuff egg rolls. There is still time for this cool season vegetable since many varieties grow from seed to harvest in thirty to forty days.