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Crop, horticulture tips

By David G. Hallauer
Meadowlark District Extension Agent, crops and soils/horticulture

Green wheat--watch it

If you've got wheat greening up due to warmer temperatures, it may not be as positive as you think. For starters, a green plant uses moisture better used later in the season. Second, we may have lost some winterhardiness and could see damage if we see drastic temperature changes later. And finally, make sure you watch for early-season insect and disease problems like army cutworm and greenbugs, and powdery mildew and tan spot, especially if moisture conditions improve. There's not much you can do, but being observant never hurts.

Optimum N rate--cool season grasses

A summary of grass fertility work indicates that high N rates (90 to 120 pounds/acre) can still maximize profit--if N prices stay in the $.45 to .50/pound range. If N rates go to $.80/pound, that recommendation drops to 60 pounds/acre.

Remember as well, though, that the entirety of fertilizer cost has to enter in to your economic equation. With better than half of the soil tests results on grass that I see each year low in Phosphorous, that nutrient has become increasingly integral to maintaining production as well. Remember--all the N you want to apply won't be as economically efficient as a balanced program if other nutrients are called for.

Insect management guides available

We don't normally get too interested in insect management until we see damage, but for some species, that's almost too late.

Update your insect knowledge with the KSU Insect Management Guides--designed to focus on the common insect pests and their management broken down by individual crop. Pick up your Management Guide at your District Extension Office.

Hack, er, prune away

I'm a hacker when it comes to pruning shrubs. If removing a little is good, a lot is better, right?.

Now it should be noted that part of the reason I appreciate heavy pruning is because I don't do it annually or in a timely manner. Fortunately, there is a pruning method for us all.

We typically see pruning in three different forms. Thinning is used to thin out branches from shrubs that are too dense by removing inward growing twigs. Heading back is the removal of branch ends but cutting back to a bud.

And then there's my favorite--rejuvenation. This method can be used on multi-stem shrubs that have become too large. The stems are cut back to three- to five-inch stubs.

Beware, however. Rejuvenation is not recommended for all shrubs, but does work on spirea, forsythia, and pyracantha to name a few.

Spring pruning results in quicker healing during a time with little threat from disease and insects. Don't worry about treating pruning cuts with paints or sealers as they may actually slow rather than aid the healing process.



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