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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I Will Teach You How to Prune Your Fruit Trees Individually or in Small Groups

Early Elberta peach grown in the Mojave Desert
I have so many requests on how to prune fruit trees I have to do something. You can always go to the UNCE Orchard for fruit tree pruning classes offered to the public on Saturdays. That is my volunteer service to the community.

However if you still need help just contact me at my email address, Extremehort@aol.com and I can arrange for some classes privately or in small groups. My fees are extremely reasonable! I am retired you know but I am selective in who I will work with. You MUST be truly interested in producing food for yourself or your family or I really cannot help you. Pruning is just the first step. I want this to be successful for both of us!

Following a regimen for production is important if you want to be successful. I will also plan out for you what you need to do in the coming production season, what you must buy to make it happen and when to do it! For the right person I can also prune your tree for you but you have to be sincere about wanting to produce high quality fruit. It can be done. I have done it over and over for fifteen years in the desert.

Robert Ll. Morris
Extremehort@aol.com

Monday, December 12, 2011

Get Lemon Fruit Picked No Later Than Late December


Q. I have a Meyer lemon in a container that still has lemons on it. They are not totally ripe. What trimming should be done and what time of year?

A. You should remove all the lemons by the end of December even if you don’t think they are ripe yet. If you let them stay on too long they can interfere with next season’s production and the fruit might get a bit pithy if left on too long.

            After removing the fruit you can prune the tree if it is needed. Citrus does not require much pruning. You would prune for size control, remove crossing or damaged branches, opening the canopy for a bit more light penetration inside and maintain limbs that are at good fruiting angles. Remove branches going straight up, straight down, too close together or overly vigorous. I hope this helps.

Pruning Roses Watch for Rootstock Growth That Overpowers the Plant


Q. I haven't pruned my roses back yet because there are still blooms. Should I wait awhile?
How far back should I trim; 1/3 or 1/2?  I have two favorite bushes that are 4-5 feet tall with very thick canes. How severely should these be cut back?

Strong growth from the base
can mean the rootstock has
taken over
A. You could wait a bit on the roses if you want. Wait until total leaf drop and then prune. If they do not drop their leaves, then pull the leaves off sometime in late December or very early January and do your pruning.

            Depending on how warm the microclimate is in your yard try to prune before you see any new growth early in 2012. This could be a bit tricky because in warm microclimates they might hold their blooms and leaves or continue blooming well into December and even January. 

            I would not wait past the first or possibly second week of January to get it done. If there are still flowers and leaves, harvest and enjoy them inside. Most garden roses have some scent to them, unlike greenhouse roses. If the leaves have not dropped, pull or cut them off before pruning.

            Make sure this strong growth is not coming from the rootstock. This is frequently the case on homeowner’s roses. The top of the plant dies back and they see this very vigorous growth coming from the base of the plant and oftentimes growing straight up. The dead growth is removed and the strong growth is permitted to remain. This is growth from the rootstock.

            You should still have a bud union (look for a “dogleg”) on the stem coming from the ground. If this bud union was lost (the rootstock grew and replaced or overpowered the top of the plant) then replace the plant.

Nevada rose
            The homeowner sees this strong growth and thinks “WOW, I am going to preserve this cane because it is doing so well!” The rose used for the rootstock will also produce flowers so there is even less incentive to cut it off. You can leave it on but it will have inferior blooms to hybridized roses and very vigorous growth harder to control.

            How far to cut back depends on the vigor of the plant, the type of rose and where you want to see the flowers produced. If you think the plant does not have the rootstock taking over then cut back about two feet below where you want your flowers produced. You may have to modify this if the canes are enormous.

            Select four to five major canes growing outward in different directions that you want to keep and remove the rest making clean, fresh cuts. Sharpen and sanitize your pruners before pruning. The local Rosarians usually have a rose pruning class in January so I will keep posted as soon as I hear of one.

Pruning Apricots, Plums and Pluots Workshop Dec 17


            This next Saturday, December 17, I will be demonstrating how to prune apricots, plums and their relatives such as pluots, apriums and plumcots. Demonstrations will begin at 9 AM and in a continuing cycle until noon.

            Different pruning classes are scheduled every Saturday through January. You can get a calendar of classes at the orchard by googling Xtremehorticulture of the Desert or emailing me at Extremehort@aol.com. Saturdays December 24 and 31 there are no classes scheduled but I will be at the Orchard to answer questions and assist those of you who could not make previous classes.

            If you bring your hand shears and loppers we will make sure your tools are sharpened and adjusted. Once you learn how, we hope you will help prune at least one tree under the mentorship of the Orchard volunteers. The orchard is a learn-by-doing classroom.

            You do not need to register but the Orchard volunteers are asking for a five dollar donation to help defray some orchard expenses. If this is a hardship for anyone please let me know at Extremehort@aol.com.

            The Orchard is located just north of the Aliante Development in North Las Vegas, 100 yards east of the North Decatur and Horse Drive intersection. For specific directions call the Master Gardener helpline at 702-257-5555 before Saturday morning otherwise call the Orchard at 702-257-5532 on Saturday morning.

Lots of Thanks to Floyd Zaiger for Pluots


Flavor King pluot from the UNCE Orchard
            What are pluots, plumcots and apriums? Technically they are called “interspecific hybrids”. Let’s break that down. Most people know what hybrids are. They know them as a new class of vehicles. These hybrid vehicles are a cross between a traditional gasoline or petroleum fueled vehicle and an one that gets its power from a source of energy other than petroleum such as, in these cases, electricity.

            Hybrids occur in plants. These can be crosses which occur in nature or selectively done by hand by plant breeders. When we take two plants that don’t normally breed with each other we can get a new generation in that some of the offspring are superior to the parent plants. These superior traits can be in the how they grow, how they look or how or what they produce. These superior offspring we say have “hybrid vigor”.
Orchard volunteers assisting with fruit evaluations at
Zaiger Genetics with Tom Spellman from Dave Wilson
Nursery who coordinated the event

            Most crosses found in nature occur between plants of the same species. So when a plum crosses with another plum this can be fairly common and is between plants of the same species; plums. The seed or offspring will have traits from both plum parents. But if a plum crosses with a plant like an apricot, a totally different species, then it is called an “interspecific” cross (cross between two totally different species). This rarely happens in nature. This type of cross is manipulated by people like plant breeders or hybridizers.

Floyd Zaiger with Tom Spellman describing the operations
at Zaiger Genetics
            Floyd Zaiger, a plant breeder and founder of Zaiger Genetics in Modesto, California, is one of a few pioneers in plant breeding involving fruit trees. He was responsible, by creating interspecific crosses between apricots, plums, peaches and nectarines, to create fruits never before seen on the planet. These fruits include what we now call pluot, aprium, plumcot, nectaplum, peacotum and others.

Donut pluot, a cross that has not yet made it
 to the marketplace.
            According to Floyd Zaiger out of about 5,000 crosses that he must do by hand, perhaps one of these crosses will be accepted for marketing as a new type of fruit tree, an interspecific hybrid. This is why there is a royalty charge, usually a couple of dollars, when buying these interspecific crosses. These royalties are returns on investments (ROI) in the 5,000 crosses that were "invested" in a successful cross. A small price to pay for this wonderful fruit. When a person propagates one of these crosses illegally it prevents these royalties from coming back and supporting new research which will lead to new introductions. Rumor has it that China now has over 10,000 acres of "stolen" Zaiger Genetics plant material.

Their common name usually tells you what was used in the cross; plum, apricot, nectarine or peach. We can thank people like Floyd Zaiger for giving us these new, wonderful fruits to enjoy. Many do very well in our hot, dry desert.

Tom Spellman from Dave Wilson Nursery which owns the marketing rights for Zaiger Genetic's new introductions, coordinates the orchard volunteer tour of their facility every year. Thank you Tom and Floyd for some wonderful experiences and a great wealth of information!

Thanks to Dave Wilson for the following information. I thought it might be a quick reference when thinking about these interspecific hybrids.

Pluot® is an "interspecific" - a complex hybrid of apricot and plum.
The complex, intense flavor of both the Aprium® and the Pluot® is unique to interspecifics, much like a blend of fruit juices where the mixture is an improvement over any of the separate ingredients. Additionally, the sugar content of interspecifics is much higher than in standard plums or apricots, yielding fruit of incomparable sweetness. Pluots® have predominantly plum parentage and smooth skins like plums. Pluot® and Aprium® are registered trademarks of Zaiger Genetics of Modesto, California

Dapple Dandy Pluot®
Creamy white and red-fleshed freestone with wonderful plum-apricot flavor. Skin greenish-yellow with red spots, turning to a maroon and yellow dapple. August harvest in Central Calif. 4-500 hours. Pollenized by Flavor Supreme Pluot®, Santa Rosa or Burgundy Plum. Pat. No. 9254. (Zaiger)

Emerald Drop Pluot®
Medium to large size with green skin and yellow-orange flesh. Prolonged harvest: early-picked fruit is firm, yet juicy sweet. Left to hang, fruit turns greenish-yellow with honey-like orange flesh. Upright tree sets heavy crops once established. Harvest mid-July to late August. Estimated chill requirement: 400 hours or less. Tested as 7HC165. Pollinizer required. Pat. No. 14599 (Zaiger)

Flavor Finale Pluot®
Medium-to-large sized Pluot® with purplish-red skin and amber-red flesh. Exceptional complex flavor. Harvest begins in Early September and fruit is edible well into October. Upright tree sets large crops. 500 hours. Pollinizer required. (Zaiger)

Flavor Grenade Pluot®
Elongated green fruit with a red blush. Crisp texture and explosive flavor. Taste-test winner. Hangs on the tree for 4 to 6 weeks. Pollinize with a Japanese plum. Estimated chilling requirement: 400 to 500 hours. Patent No. 12097. (Zaiger)

Flavor King Pluot®
Unique plum-apricot hybrid. Remarkable, spicy bouquet and flavor. Reddish-purple skin, sweet red flesh. Harvest mid August in Central Calif. Naturally small tree. Estimated chill requirement: 400 hours or less. Pollenized by Flavor Supreme, Santa Rosa or Late Santa Rosa. Pat. No. 8026. (Zaiger)

Flavor Queen Pluot®
Greenish-yellow skin, amber-orange flesh. Prolonged harvest: mid-July thru August. 5-600 hours. Pollinized by plum or other Pluot®, (Dapple Dandy Pluot® or Burgundy Plum) but not Flavor King. Pat. No. 7420. (Zaiger)

Flavor Supreme Pluot®
Plum-apricot hybrid with sweet, richly flavored, firm red flesh. Greenish-maroon mottled skin. June harvest in Central California, about two weeks before Santa Rosa. 5-600 hours. Pollinized by Santa Rosa, Late Santa Rosa, or other Pluot®. (Zaiger)

Flavorich Pluot®
Large, dark purple-skinned fruits with firm, very sweet, yellow-orange flesh. Harvest begins late August/early September in Central California, 2-3 weeks after Flavor King Pluot®. Vigorous, upright tree. Originated from a cross of Friar plum and an unnamed Pluot®. 800 hours. Pollenizer required: another Pluot® such as Dapple Dandy or Flavor King, or a Japanese plum such as Santa Rosa or Late Santa Rosa. Pat. No. 8546. (Zaiger)

Flavorosa Pluot®
Deep purple-skinned fruit with red flesh. Mild, sweet flavor. Ripens at the end of May. Pollinize with a Japanese plum. 400 hours chill required. Patent # 10285 (Zaiger)

Geo Pride Pluot®
Red-skinned, yellow-fleshed plum/apricot hybrid, ranked in top 5 at both July & August tastings in 1997. Balanced acid-sugar to predominantly sweet with unique plum/apricot flavor. Medium size, very heavy production. Harvest in mid-July to early August, just ahead of Flavor Queen Pluot®. Estimated chill requirement: 400 hours or less. Pollenizer required:Flavor Supreme Pluot®, Dapple Dandy Pluot®, Santa Rosa Plum. Good pollenizer for other plums & pluots®. Patent # 10386 (Zaiger)

Splash Pluot®
 Small to medium sized red-orange colored fruit, with very sweet orange flesh. Round to heart-shaped fruit is excellent eaten fresh, dried or in desserts. Upright tree sets large crops once established. Estimated chill requirement: 400 hours or less. Pollenizer required. Pat. No 14583 (Zaiger)

Dave Wilson apriums
The Aprium® is an "interspecific" - a complex hybrid of apricot and plum. The complex, intense flavor of both the Aprium® and the Pluot® is unique to interspecifics, much like a blend of fruit juices where the mixture is an improvement over any of the separate ingredients. Additionally, the sugar content of interspecifics is much higher than in standard plums or apricots, yielding fruit of incomparable sweetness. Apriums®, with their scant fuzz, resemble apricots in the expression of their parentage. Pluot® and Aprium® are registered trademarks of Zaiger Genetics of Modesto, California

Cot-N-Candy Aprium®
Early season harvest, ripening 1 week later than Flavor Delight Aprium™. Flesh is extra sweet and juicy, with a plumy aftertaste Cot-N-Candy’s size is 2 to 2 ½ inches on average. Self-fruitful. Patent #17827 (Zaiger)

Flavor Delight Aprium®
Resembles an apricot but with a distinctive flavor and texture all its own. Pleasant, lingering after taste. Early June. Bigger crops if pollenized by any apricot. Estimated chilling requirement: 200 to 300 hours. (Zaiger)

Dave Wilson peacotum
The Peacotum® is an "interspecific" - a complex hybrid of peach, apricot and plum.
The complex, intense flavor of the Peacotum®, Pluot® and Aprium® is unique to interspecifics, much like a blend of fruit juices where the mixture is an improvement over any of the separate ingredients. Additionally, the sugar content of our interspecifics is much higher than in any standard plum or apricot, yielding fruit of incomparable sweetness. Pluot® and Aprium® and Peacotum® are registered trademarks of Zaiger Genetics of Modesto, California

Bella Gold Peacotum®
Peach x apricot x plum. Bella Gold Peacotum® has a slightly fuzzy skin like an apricot, and a bright yellow color with an attractive red blush. Bella Gold has a wonderful, mildly sweet flavor all its own. Naturally semi-dwarf tree. Known to be pollenized by Flavor Grenade Pluot® and Blenheim apricot. Estimated chilling requirement 500 hours. Pat. No. 17826 (Zaiger)

Plumcot
The Plumcot is a hybrid between an apricot and a plum. Plumcots have a higher sugar content and a much sweeter flavor than plums or apricots.

Flavorella plumcot
Medium-sized fruit with translucent golden color, light red blush and slight pubescense; ripens in late May to early June. Excellent flavor with firm, juicy flesh. 250 hours. Pollenizer required. Flavor Delight, Gold Kist and Flora Gold all work well. Pat. No. 8470. (Zaiger)

Nectaplum
As the name suggests, an interspecific cross between nectarine and plum.
Spice Zee Nectaplum®
The first Nectaplum® from Zaiger Hybrids. It is slightly acidic and loaded with sugar giving it a spicy sweet flavor. One can detect both Plum and Nectarine traits with ease. Along with great flavor, Spice Zee is a beautiful ornamental tree with a tremendous spring bloom followed by dark red leaf in the spring that matures to a rich green-red in late summer. This variety is self-fruitful and very productive. Estimated chill requirement: 200 to 300 hours. (Patent Pending

Peach plum hybrid
Tri-Lite
This white-fleshed peach/plum hybrid can be eaten firm. It has a mild, classic flavor with a wonderful plum aftertaste that makes this a unique treat. Early ripening in June. Superior quality canning clingstone. Estimated chill requirement: 400 to 500 hours.


Cherry plum

Delight cherry-plum
Hybrid of cherry-plum and Japanese plum. Flavorful, tangy, clingstone. Heavy crops. Very productive, even under adverse conditions. 400 hours. Pollenizer required. Interfruitful with Sprite. (Zaiger)

Sprite cherry-plum
Japanese plum x cherry-plum. Sweet, freestone, not tart. Flavorful, refreshing - wonderful fresh eating. Ripe fruit holds on tree 3-4 weeks. Adapted to most climates. 400 hours. Pollenized by Delight. (Zaiger)

Come Help Me in Nevada's First Commercial Harvesting of Olives for Olive Oil

Do want to be a part of southern Nevada's historical re-emergence in small-scale, high value (really it is horticulture) agriculture? Contact me at Extremehort@aol.com