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Showing posts from March, 2019

Late Frost Fear: Protecting Fruit Trees from Losing the Entire Crop to Freeze Injury

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Southwest Yard & Garden by Dr. Marisa Thompson
Question: How can I protect my backyard peach tree from losing fruit to late frosts? -Submitted via Patrick Kircher, Roosevelt County Extension Agriculture Agent, Portales, NM Answer: This is a tough one. There’s lots of advice out there for things that might help (emphasis on the “might”). Your options for protecting those precious buds and flowers really depend so much on how old and big the tree is, what stage of development the buds are in, how cold it’s going to get, how high wind speeds get, and how long the cold lasts. Because eastern parts of the state might get a cold snap this week, I’m focusing on what to do to protect existing trees in your yard from late frosts. In another column, I explained the underlying principles in more detail and offer suggestions for how to select trees better suited for our challenging environment. Click here to link to that column! There are some tried and true tricks for maximizing fruit load by pr…

Pruning Pomegranates

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Southwest Yard & Garden by Dr. Marisa Thompson

Question: When should I prune my pomegranate tree and how much wood should be removed during pruning? -Extension Master Gardener Trainees in Valencia and Bernalillo Counties Answer: Pomegranates (Punica granatum) are monoecious plants. Monoecious is a flowering term that means it has both male (pollen-forming) and female (ovary- and fruit-forming) reproductive organs on the same plant. The individual flowers can be perfect, meaning both male and female parts are found together in a single flower. Other flowers found on the same shrub can be imperfect, meaning they are single-sex. The imperfect flowers on pomegranates are male only, so they produce pollen and then fall to the ground. That should make many pomegranate growers breathe a sigh of relief because it’s common to find dozens of the bright red blossoms littering the ground, blame the wind, and then worry that you won’t get any fruit this year. Those male flowers were never meant t…

Get Growing with Grapes: Considering Shade, Rabbits, Disease Detection, and More!

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Southwest Yard & Garden by Dr. Marisa Thompson with guest contributor Dr. Gill Giese Question: My husband and I are planting a few Marquette grape vines this year in Santa Fe. I would like to plant a tree approximately 8 feet from the vines. Could you recommend some trees that would be “a good idea” to plant close by? I read that planting a rose bush at the vines will help to indicate any diseases since the roses would get this first. Is this a good thing to do? Are rabbits a problem with grape vines? We have quite a few roaming freely. Should we protect the vines with a net around them? -Susan R., Santa Fe Answer: For the tree portion of your query, what direction, relative to the grapes, will the tree be planted? Will the tree shade the grape vines? Even if the tree is planted on the north side of the grape-growing area, it may shade the grapes once the canopy gets larger, so selecting a small tree might be helpful. Here are a few smaller-sized trees to consider: redbud (Western, Eas…

Piñon Needle Scale – Part 2: Suppressing Pest Populations

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Southwest Yard & Garden by Dr. Marisa Thompson (Piñon Needle Scale – Part 1: Identification Tips and Life Cycle Secrets) with guest contributors Dr. Carol Sutherland and Dr. John Formby

Question: I took these photos on one of the piñon trees nearest our house. We have thousands of piñon here on our land and our neighbor’s land, some of which have died within 12–14 days of turning brown. We would hate to see an epidemic, but it does seem to be spreading. What is it and what should we do? - Paula P., Mora, NM (submitted via NMSU Extension Agent for Mora County, Suzanne DeVos-Cole)
Answer: Last week, NMSU Extension Entomologist/NMDA State Entomologist, Dr. Carol Sutherland, and NM State Forestry Forest Health Program Manager, Dr. John Formby, explained why timing is crucial for controlling an infestation of piñon needle scale (PNS). **CLICK HERE to go directly to last week's column.** As with most pest problems, the goal isn’t 100% eradication, partly because that’s impossible and not…

Piñon Needle Scale – Part 1: Identification Tips and Life Cycle Secrets

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Southwest Yard & Garden by Dr. Marisa Thompson with guest contributors Dr. Carol Sutherland and Dr. John Formby
(Part II of this column covers what you can do for trees in your yard if they are infested with piñon needle scale: https://nmsudesertblooms.blogspot.com/2019/03/pinon-needle-scale-part-2-suppressing.html)


Question: I took these photos on one of the piñon trees nearest our house. We have thousands of piñon here on our land and our neighbor’s land, some of which have died within 12-14 days of turning brown. We would hate to see an epidemic, but it does seem to be spreading. What is it and what should we do?
- Paula P., Mora, NM (submitted via NMSU Extension Agent for Mora County, Suzanne DeVos-Cole)


Answer: From the photos you shared, it looks to me like an infestation of piñon needle scale (Matsucoccus acalyptus), but I'm not an entomologist and I’m not very familiar with pest problems in your area, so I've asked NMSU Extension Entomologist, Dr. Carol Sutherland (al…