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Friday, January 1, 2010

December and January Todo at The Orchard



  1. Irrigate every 7 to 10 days if you have mulched your fruit trees.


  2. Begin pruning of older wood to improve tree structure, lower height and improve fruit production.


  3. Two applications of a dormant oil should be applied in winter or as late as early spring after leaf development (February) AS LONG AS THE TREES ARE NOT IN FLOWER.


  4. Whitewash trunk and large limbs after pruning.


  5. Borer control by mechanical means (sharp knife). Remove limbs if the borer damage has damaged over half of the circumference.


  6. Fertilize trees with a fruit tree fertilizer (usually these are high in phosphorus) as well as iron.



Whitewashing. The purpose of whitewashing is to prevent damage to the trunk and primary limbs from intense sunlight and subsequently attack from borers and entrance of disease to damaged areas. The whitewashing is done with a sprayer or with a brush.
White or light-colored latex paint is diluted at least 1:1 with water and applied to the trunk and scaffold limbs, concentrating primarily on the south and west exposures.




Much of the damage is in the primary and secondary scaffolds, on the top surface, in the interior of the canopy where the branches are exposed to the sunlight. The trunk and primary scaffolds are the main focus because they are permanent supports for the fruit-bearing branches. Fruit-bearing branches can be regenerated if damaged and removed due to borer damage.

Apply the whitewash to any newly-planted trees, and trees with the color of the bark showing. Apply the whitewash to the trunk and primary scaffold limbs that are facing south or west. Pay particular attention to the interior of the canopy and apply up the branches two inches in diameter or larger.



Dormant Oil. For controlling insects such as aphids and other general feeders we spray dormant oil twice during the winter when temperatures are warm. The first time is usually in December just after leaf drop and the other is in January. It is best to do this when temperatures are warm, above 50 F and with warm nights. The purpose of the oil is thought to be to “suffocate” the insects by “blanketing” their bodies with the oil and “plugging” their breathing. Unless you have had disease problems in the past I don’t recommend that you apply a disease control chemical such as a dormant spray for disease prevention.

Controlling Borers. The best time to find borers is when the leaves are off of the trees. We usually find them on the tops or sides of branches exposed directly to sunlight where the branches can get sunburned. The damage attracts the insects through “smell”.



Once cleaned, the damaged area is left to heal without using any pruning paints. The damaged area will heal quickly once the borer is removed. If the

The damaged area is located and cut out with a knife. All of the damaged wood is removed hoping that we will see the borer so it can be removed.

If damage by the borer extends more than halfway around the branch, the branch is removed. This is why it is so important to protect the trunk and major limbs by painting them with white paint. We generally chip the wood we prune from the trees right back into the Orchard and use it for mulch. One of the big reasons we think our Orchard has been productive and healthy is because of our mulching program. Chipping the wood back into the Orchard destroys any borers that might be “hiding” in the wood.
Fruit Tree Evaluations for the Desert

Fruit can be easy to grow in the desert. We dont have that may disease problems due to our low humidity and if you are isolated from commercial or backyard producers, insect problems can be minimal. I just finished our fruit evaluations at the Orchard in North Las Vegas and would like to share them with you.


Fruit trees were originally planted at the Orchard site beginning in 1997. Fruit trees are grown in 10 X 10 spacings in orchard rows. All trees were planted as bareroot plants and amended with compost at the time of planting. Wood mulch from green waste, provided by Tony Valente of First Choice Tree Service, covers the surface of the orchard to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Fruit trees are pruned annually to heights of 6 ½ to 7 feet to keep the Orchard “ladderless”. Although not a certified organic orchard, pesticides used are “organic” in nature following a “least toxic” philosophy. Orchard volunteers, consisting of both Master Gardeners and community volunteers, provide most of the work at the Orchard. Fruit from the Orchard is sold to local restaurants, farmers markets and the local community to recover the costs of production. After recordkeeping of a variety is completed, trees are removed and replaced with other varieties to gather information on the varieties of fruit that grows best and produces the best fruit in the Mojave Desert.

Evaluations categories are: Top Choice for those fruit trees providing exceptional fruit and tree health; Honorable Mention for those which provided very good fruit and very good health in our climate and Under Review for those which have not been growing long enough for multiple year evaluations or have been inconsistent.

Evaluation trials were conducted from 2005 – 2009. Fruit tree evaluations were made through taste evaluations of the fruit and midsummer evaluations of the trees themselves and their performance at the UNCE Orchard in North Las Vegas, Nevada.

Most of the fruit trees were provided by Dave Wilson Nursery in cooperation with research and demonstrations provided by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. More general information about these fruit can be obtained by visiting Dave Wilson Nursery’s website at:
http://www.davewilson.com/homegrown/homeindex1.html. Wine grapes were provided by Duarte Nursery and nopal cactus provided by faculty at the Universidad de Sonora in Hermosillo, Mexico.

Almonds
Most almonds do extremely well in southern Nevada and make excellent landscape trees. They have few pest problems but the desert ground squirrels can clean out a tree in a day.
Recommended rootstock: Nemaguard but others have performed adequately over the long term.
Top Choice
· All in One – Genetic Dwarf, Self pollinating
· Garden Prince – Genetic Dwarf, Self pollinating, flowers white with purple

Notable Mention
· Price
· Nonpariel

Under Review
· Carmel
· Neplus Ultra

In Mediterranean regions they eat young almonds or spring almonds fresh from the tree, the entire nut, when it is about half an inch long or so, husk and all. At this stage the center of the nut is still gellatinous. It is at this stage they can be eaten like a snack. What do they taste like? A little sour but refreshing with a touch of sweetness and very little to remind you of an almond.

You can also harvest green almonds when the husk is in the green stage at a more "juvenile" stage. This is around late March or April here when the interior seed is white on the outside but the gelatinous mass on the inside has disappeared. At this stage they taste alot like pine nuts and can be used like pinoles.

In the desert the remaining nuts can be left to dry on the tree and do not mold due to our very low humidity but you better get them harvested before the ground squirrels get them.