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Kyle’s News and Reviews

Drought Puts Strain On Cattle Farmers


Drought is a word that we are not very familiar with in Mississippi since we receive, on average, 53 inches of rainfall per year. This year has been an exception to that rule. For the year we are 10.37 inches below average, but since May and the start of summer, we are actually 13.56 inches below average for those months. 

This means that during the hottest time of the year for us we are greatly below average for our rainfall. I say all of this to mention that I have traveled the county over the last few days talking to cattlemen and cattlewomen who are having a tough time taking care of their animals.  The drought conditions have put hay production behind by at least 40 percent for the year, dried up most farm ponds, increased supplemental feeding by at least two months, decimated pasture forage – putting a hurt on this vital group of farmers in our area.  

Cattle farmers are not the only ones affected by the drought conditions. Most home gardeners have had a tough time this fall with establishing fall gardens.  If a crop has not been watered, it is non-existent now.  I guess the local water associations are happy about the drought conditions and increased water sales this close to Christmas.   


Horticulture 

Tips 

Rose Care Tips for the fall and winter

As cold weather sets in, reduce water, but do not allow roses, especially those that have recently been planted, to dry out completely.  Plants need water during dry spells, even during the winter months. Roses should be grown in a well-drained location.  These plants will not tolerate “wet feet,” especially during the winter months. 

Rose plants should go into the winter in a vigorous state for best survival–in particular, those roses that were planted this past spring. Plants that have been stressed by drought or lack of fertility, or those defoliated by pests, are more inclined to succumb to cold than robust plants. 

Own-rooted roses are varieties grown from cuttings.  Old garden roses are typically grown on their own roots, as are some modern roses.  Own-rooted roses offer an advantage in the areas where winters are very cold.  If the top is lost to winter cold, but the rootstock survives, the variety won’t be lost.  New growth will arise from the roots.  When you lose the top of a grafted rose, what’s left is a rootstock that is durable but not particularly beautiful. 

There is still time to move and plant roses.  Water them thoroughly and mulch to keep them from freezing. Roses that form hips (fruit) are signaling the onset of dormancy.  Some rose shrubs do not form fruit. 

It’s not necessary to prune back roses to make them attractive in winter. If you do this before a freeze, you may awaken dormant buds, which will produce new growth that will only be killed by freezing temperatures.  

Vegetables

Still picking green beans, cucumber and tomatoes? This Indian summer may allow us to have fresh tomatoes for the Thanksgiving table even if there is a freeze event. Pay close attention to the weather forecast and harvest fruit before temperatures drop below thirty degrees. Wrap each tomato in absorbent paper (news-print is absorbent enough) and keep them in a cool place that doesn’t drop below 55 degrees. Check them at least weekly to remove the decaying ones. Tomatoes at the mature green stage will slowly ripen over the next several weeks after picking.

Broccoli has been very slow to form heads this fall. Broccoli is technically photoperiodic, but research has shown that day length has minimal effects on broccoli floral initiation. Some studies show only a one day difference due to day length. The warm temperatures have a much greater influence on delaying head start. We have been more than ten degrees warmer than normal for most of fall.  Hopefully the cooler temperatures we are experiencing will trigger the growth.

(Horticulture tips provided by Dr. Lelia Kelly, Dr. David Nagel)

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