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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Q. Our house plants seem to breed a small black gnat. We use potting soil with our African violets and herbs. Anything we can do? It has been suggested soapy water spray?

Fungus Gnat
A. The gnat larvae or immature forms feed on organic matter in the soil and frequently on the roots of plants as well. There is an organic spray that can be used for fungus gnats which contains a bacterium called Bt. There are different strains of Bt so the one you use to control wormy tomatoes, corn earworm or grape leaf skeletonizer won’t work on fungus gnats. The strain has to be israelensis or sometimes designated as H-14 or strain AM 65-52.

One product that contains this form of Bt is manufactured by Valent Biosciences and called Knock-Out®. It is available online from Gardens Alive. It is a liquid and applied to the soil. I have not seen it available in town. Follow the label directions. If you have a plant with fungus gnats in the container soil, do not bring it in the house. These little guys will spread to other soils in other containers if the soil has enough decaying organic matter in it.
            Curiously enough, research indicates that some repellency of fungus gnats was provided by Bounce® fabric softener dryer sheets.

Q. Every year my zucchini plants are infested with grey-colored beetles that destroy my zucchini. How do get rid of the beetles?


Squash Bugs
A. Most likely squash bugs. You can plant late, in June, after their infestation time has passed or you can hand pick them as you see them. You must do this as they appear soon after planting and get rid of them as soon as you see them. Do this for about three weeks and the numbers will be greatly reduced.

Or you can vacuum them with a handheld vacuum cleaner and vacuum the undersides of the leaves. You can use pesticides suitable for squash bugs but be sure to spray the undersides of the leaves. Do not spray plants when in bloom. Spray very early in the am or at sunset when bees are not active.

Prune Palms Now


Freeze Damage to Palm
Now is a great time to be pruning your palms if they had winter damage. They are pushing new growth now so any pruning done now will be replaced with new growth over the next month. If the palm frond has substantial browning from cold damage, remove the frond as close to the trunk as possible. While you are at it on some palms you may see the flower stems emerging so you can eliminate the fruit now if it has been a problem in the past.

Gilcrease Orchard to Open on Saturday April 30

Mark Ruben, Orchard Manager at Gilcrease Orchard
Gilcrease Orchard will have their 2011 opening next Saturday from 7 am to noon. They are only about 1½ miles to the west of the UNCE Orchard so you can visit both when coming to the north part of the valley. They will have carrots, beets, arugula, Swiss chard, green onions and snap peas. Across the street from Gilcrease to the Northwest are Sharon’s famous eggs at The Farm. Eggs can’t get any fresher than that.

Plant World Nursery to Carry My Recommended Fruit Trees

Bob Morris with Orchard Visitors
I will be at Plant World Nursery in Las Vegas, Sunday May 8, 2011, at 11 am, to help you select the best fruit tree for your backyard orchard. Plant World Nursery is bringing in varieties of fruit trees that I am recommending for our Mojave Desert climate. I will direct you on what to use when planting, how to plant, insect and disease control methods and how to water.

Summer Pruning Helps Keep Your Fruit Trees Dwarfed and Improves Fruit Quality

This nectarine has a canopy which is too dense and should have been summer pruned.
Next week on Saturday, April 30, 2011, I will be giving a demonstration on summer pruning fruit trees at the UNCE Orchard. Summer pruning is used to help keep standard sized fruit trees, dwarfed, by robbing them of their excessive spring growth. Most summer pruning can be done with your hands and does not usually rely on any pruning equipment. The class will start promptly at 9 am and last about one hour. No registration or fees are required. Call the Master Gardener helpline at 702-257-5555 for directions to the UNCE Orchard.

The purpose of summer pruning is several fold. 1. First it removes unwanted growth before it has a time to mature and aids in the dwarfing process of fruit trees. 2. It opens the canopy for more light penetration so that fruit quality is improved but not so much that it might cause sunburn of limbs and fruit. Young,current season growth is easily removed using your hands and pruning equipment is not usually needed.

Timing is important. It is done at a time of year when it is easily removed and after spring growth has been pushed from locations where it is not wanted. When done in April, new growth can be removed easily by pulling down. If it is done too late, this new growth will be difficult to remove by pulling.

The type of growth I focus on most often is growing straight up (suckers), growing straight down, toward the interior of the tree, growth which is crossing or interfering in some way. Remember that the spring growth of peaches and nectarines (those fruit trees that produce fruit laterally along one year old wood) will be needed next year for fruit production so be careful not to remove too much.


Fruit trees at the Orchard are kept at about 6 1/2 feet tall so new growth growing above this is also frequently removed.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Recommended Fruit Tree Varieties for the Mojave Desert

Fruit tree evaluations were made from 1993-2008. Most of the fruit tree selections were provided by Dave Wilson Nursery for research and demonstration purposes in the Eastern Mojave Desert of southern Nevada. More general information about these fruit can be obtained by visiting their website at http://www.davewilson.com/homegrown/homeindex1.html

Almonds – Most almonds do extremely well in southern Nevada and make excellent landscape trees.

Recommended rootstock: Nemaguard but others do well here as well

Top Choice

All in One – Genetic Dwarf, Self pollinating

Garden Prince – Genetic Dwarf, Self pollinating, flowers white with purple

Notable Mention

Carmel

Neplus Ultra

Nonpariel

Price

Under Review

None at this time

Apples – Not all apples do well in southern Nevada and range from “best apple ever tasted” to “tasteless” depending on variety

Recommended dwarfing rootstock: M111; avoid extreme dwarfing rootstocks due to fruit sunburning

Top Choice

Dorsett Golden – Early Season, yellow fruit

Fuji – Mid Season, orangish-red fruit

Pink Lady (Cripps Pink) – Late Season, red over green fruit

Notable Mention

Anna

Einshemer

Gordon

Mutsu (Crispin)

White Winter Pearmain

Under Review

Akane

Arkansas Black

Asmead Kernel

Babe (Genetic Dwarf)

Gala

Granny Smith

Red Fuji

Scarlet Sentinel Columnar

Yellow Newton Pippen

Apricot – Most apricots do well in southern Nevada and have wonderful flavor

Recommended rootstock: Nemaguard preferred but others have performed well

Top Choice

Blenheim (Royal)

Flavor Delight (Aprium; actually a plum apricot hybrid but fruit marketed as an apricot)

Gold Kist

Moorpark

Royal Rosa – excellent landscape tree

Notable Mention

Canadian Blenheim White

Chinese

Early Golden

Flora Gold

Katy – excellent landscape tree

Under Review (Early results are good on all)

Autumn Glo

Early Autumn

Goldcot

Harcot

Tomcot

Aprium – Plum apricot hybrid that does extremely well in our climate

Recommended Rootstock: Nemaguard but others have performed well

Top Choice

Flavor Delight – See apricot

Asian Pear – Performs surprisingly well in our climate and we are currently working on increasing the size and quality of the fruit

Recommended Rootstock: OHxF333 but others have performed well

Under Review

Chojuro

Hosui

Kikusui

Shinko

Shinseiki

Tsu Li

Twentieth Century

Ya Li

Blackberry – Struggles in this climate and soils but produces acceptable fruit

Top Choice

None at this time

Notable Mention

Rosborough

Womack

Under Review

None at this time

Cactus, Nopal – For fresh vegetable (nopalitos) and fruit (tuna) and extremely well adapted for this climate. Being removed from trials in 2010.

Top Choice

Copena F1

Copena V1

Notable Mention

None at this time

Under Review

None at this time

Cherry, Sweet – Inconsistent fruit production and not reliable in this climate

Top Choice

None at this time

Notable Mention

None at this time

Under Review

Bing

Black Tartarian

Craig's Crimson

Lapins

Royal Ann

Cherry Plum – Hybrids between cherry plum and Japanese plum

Recommended Rootstock: Nemaguard preferred but others have done well.

Top Choice

None at this time

Notable Mention

None at this time

Under Review

Delight

Sprite

Figs – Most figs do well in this climate.

Top Choice

Black Mission – dark purple skin with strawberry colored flesh

Janice – greenish-yellow (white) skin with light greenish amber flesh with few seeds

Notable Mention

Kadota

Under Review

Brown Turkey

Celestial

Flanders

King (Desert King)

LSU Purple

White Genoa

Grapes, Table – Nearly all table grapes do well in our climate

Top Choice

Blush

Fantasy

Flame

Notable Mention

Harmony

Himrod

Perlette

Thompson Seedless

Under Review

Italia

Princess

Black Monnuka

Grapes, Wine – Many wine grapes are very productive in our climate but taste evaluations and winemaking with the fruit is underway

Recommended Rootstock: own roots, 110R, 1103P but others have done well

Top Choice

None at this time

Honorable Mention

Primitivo

Summer Muscat

Zinfandel

Under Review

Alicante Bouschet

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Sauvignon

Chardonnay

Grenache

Marsanne

Merlot

Sangiovese

Sauvignon Blanc

Syrah Noir

Tempranillo

Viognier

Jujube – Chinese Date or Indian Fig does very well in our climate

Top Choice

Li

Honorable Mention

Lang

Contorted

Under Review

None at this time

Nectarine – Nectarines do well in our climate but vary in fruit quality

Recommended Rootstock: Nemaguard but others have done well in our climate

Top Choice

Arctic Star

Honorable Mention

Acrtic Glo

Arctic Rose

Desert Dawn

Desert Delight

Double Delight

Under Review

Arctic Gold

Garden Delight – Miniature

Goldmine

Independence

Liz’s Late

Necta Zee – Miniature

Panamint

Peach – Peaches do extremely well in our climate and have received praise from internationally recognized chefs

Recommended Rootstock: Nemaguard but others have performed well

Top Choice

Babcock – White, mid season

Eva’s Pride – Early season

May Pride – Early season

Mid Pride – Mid season

Starks Saturn – Donut peach, white flesh, mid season

Honorable Mention

Arctic Supreme - white flesh, mid season

Desert Gold -

Earlitreat – Earliest producer

Early Amber – Early season

Early Elberta -

Elberta – Mid season

FlordaPrince – Early season

Red Baron – Showy flowers, good landscape tree, mid season

Red Haven – Mid season

Under Review

Arctic Jay – White

Carnival

Double Jewel

Elegant Lady - White

Fairtime

Gold Dust

Harken

Indian Free

July Elberta (Kim)

Nectar White - White

O’Henry – Late season

Rio Oso Gem

Snow Beauty - White

Snow Giant - White

Snow King - White

Strawberry Free - White

Sugar Lady - White

Summerset

Sweet Bagel – Donut peach, yellow

Tra Zee – Late season

Tropic Snow -White

White Heath Cling - White

White Lady - White

Peach, Miniature

Top Choice

None at this time

Honorable Mention

Bonanza – Mid season

El Dorado – Mid season

Pix Zee – Mid season

Under Review

Honey Babe

Garden Gold

Garden Sun

Pear, European – European pears do quite well in taste but suffer from visual appeal

Recommended Rootstock: Any

Top Choice

Kieffer – Salad pear, nicknamed “Jicama pear” with flavor resembling an Asian pear, good for canning and baking

Honorable Mention

Bartlett

Monterrey

Red Bartlett

Under Review

Bosc

California

Comice

D’Anjou

Hood

Persimmon – Struggles in this climate but fruit is good quality

Top Choice

Fuyu

Honorable Mention

Hachiya

Under Review

Chocolate

Coffeecake

Giant Fuyu

Niunai

Tamopan

Plum – Plums do well in our climate. The most common fresh plums are Japanese plums.

Recommended Rootstock:

Top Choice

Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa, Weeping – landscape tree form of Santa Rosa

Burgundy

Emerald Beauty

Honorable Mention

Beauty

Burbank

Elephant Heart

French Improved – Prune

Italian Prune - Prune

Under Review

Catalina

Green Gage – European plum

Nubiana

Plumcot – Apricot plum hybrid

Under Review

Plum Parfait

Pluot – A very complex hybrid of apricot and plum that has developed a very high sugar level and complex flavors when tree ripened

Recommended Rootstock:

Top Choice

Flavor King

Flavor Queen

Flavor Supreme

Honorable Mention

None at this time

Under Review

Dapple Dandy

Flavorosa

Flavor Delight

Flavor Finale

Flavor Grenade

Geopride

Pomegranate

Top Choice

Eversweet

Wonderful

Sweet

Honorable Mention

Utah Sweet

Under Review

Ambrosia

Grenada

Sharp Velvet

Quince

Top Choice

Pineapple

Under Review

Orange

Smyrna