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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Broccoli Remains Packed with Health Benefits

USDA Research Demonstrates New Breeds of
Broccoli Remain Packed with Health Benefits

OCTOBER 13, 2011.—Research performed by scientists at the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) and published recently in
the journal Crop Science has demonstrated that mineral levels
in new varieties of broccoli have not declined since 1975, and
that the broccoli contains the same levels of calcium, copper,
iron, magnesium, potassium and other minerals that have made
the vegetable a healthy staple of American diets for decades.

“This research provides data on the nutritional content of
broccoli for breeders to consider as they further improve this
important vegetable,” said Edward B. Knipling, administrator of
the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA’s principal
intramural scientific research agency. “The research demonstrates
how ARS is helping to find answers to agricultural problems
that impact Americans every day, from field to table.”
A team of three scientists evaluated the mineral content
of 14 broccoli cultivars released over a span of more than 50
years: ARS geneticist and research leader Mark Farnham at the
agency’s U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, S.C.; plant
physiologist Michael Grusak at the USDA-ARS Children’s
Nutrition Research Center (CNRC) in Houston, Texas; and
Clemson University scientist Anthony Keinath.

The researchers grew the 14 cultivars in two field trials in
2008 and 2009, and harvested florets for testing.

“Our studies show that not much has changed in terms of
mineral content in the last 35 years in a crop that has undergone
significant improvement from a quality standpoint and that was
not widely consumed in the United States before the 1960s,”
said Farnham.

Broccoli florets in the study were tested for levels of calcium,
copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum,
sodium, phosphorous, sulfur and zinc. Results indicated signifi-
cant cultivar differences in floret concentrations of calcium,
copper, iron, magnesium, sodium, phosphorous and zinc, but
not of potassium, manganese, molybdenum or sulfur. There
was no clear relationship between mineral concentration and
release year.

“For broccoli cultivars grown during the past 35 years, when
hybrids became the standard cultivar, evidence indicates that
mineral concentrations remain unchanged,” said Farnham. “As
broccoli breeders continue to improve this crop in the future,
data from this study can serve as a very useful guide in helping
breeders understand the variation in mineral concentrations they
should expect among their breeding stocks and also provide a
realistic baseline that should be maintained as other characteristics
are manipulated in the future.”

As USDA’s chief scientific research agency, ARS is leading
America toward a better future through agricultural research
and information.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Silk Tree (Mimosa) Should Not Be in Rock Mulch

Q. You had a timely article for me on the mimosa tree. Mine started to struggle with leaf scorch. I started deep watering and I added iron, zinc, used a 15-15-15 fertilizer. After about three weeks and I had new growth on all branches and no scorch on new growth. I should have started when the
Silk tree growing in rock mulch will always struggle
temperature increased. Why never plant them in stones? My mimosa is in an area of about 250 square feet with stones surrounding it.

A. I think you just proved my point. Mimosa is difficult to manage in a rock landscape because these rock landscapes add nothing back to the soil. Over time, the soil becomes depleted of nutrients and organic acids because nothing is added back to the soil. The organic acids from decaying organic material help these nutrients to become available to plants.

With organic mulches they are constantly decomposing and replenishing the soil with nutrients and helping to stimulate important soil microorganisms and even worms. So by adding iron, zinc and the 15-15-15 fertilizer you began to replenish those nutrients that were depleted from your soil due to the presence of the inert rock mulch.

Some plants just do not do well under rock mulch and mimosa is one of them. Your other option is to add these fertilizers every year and in some way try to compensate for having that rock mulch. Either way is fine. Your choice. But you will have to add your fertilizer combinations annually for your mimosa to do well.

Lilacs Will Work in the Mojave Desert - Just Be Careful You Get the Right One

Q. I wish to transplant a lilac bush.  It is facing west and struggles during the heat of the summer. I believe a better spot is on the north side of a south wall with more shade. I would like to transplant now while it is cool, so I can continue my landscaping.  Is this the time?

A. In cooler climates, lilac can be planted in full sun and withstand full sun all day long. You are right, your lilac in our climate will do better in a different location. But if it is too shady, it may not bloom very well, if at all.

Morning sun is typically less damaging to plants than afternoon sun during the summer. Plants that produce flowers typically need more sunlight than those plants which we appreciate just for their foliage. If it is possible, try to find a spot where the plant can receive full sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon.

Regarding transplanting this time of year, we would like to have some root  growth after transplanting. Root growth is very dependent on soil temperature with very little of it occurring when these temperatures drop into the 40’s. It is getting late for that right now and you are moving the plant from a place that has warmer soils than its new home.

Plants are easier to move by hand if they have been in the ground less than three years. It seems to me, that once they hit that three year mark, the root system can be very established and make the plant difficult to move. Plants watered with drip irrigation with emitters close to the trunk are easier to move since most of the roots have restricted growth.

Unless you can be sure that you can take a very large root system with the plant, I would wait to spring. What you can do this time of year which will make moving the plant in the spring more successful, is to root prune now. Take a sharp shovel and slice the root system with this shovel just to the inside of the root ball that you will move in the spring. This will sever the root system, causing its regrowth closer to the plant. Be careful not to cut any drip lines.

This is kind of a judgment call this time of year. It is on the tail end of transplanting season. I hope I have given you enough information to make a decision regarding your situation.

Be careful when you buy lilacs. You have to plant lilacs with a low chilling requirement if you expect them to bloom in our climate. Common lilac may not bloom in the lower elevations of Southern Nevada because they do not get enough cold during the winter to form flower buds. Low chilling requirement common lilacs such as ‘Lavender Lady’ or ‘Angel White’ will bloom here. You may also want to select Persian or Chinese lilacs instead of common lilacs.

Basic Rose Primer for the Desert and Some Recommended Varieties

Q. Please advise me on how to trim roses properly. Also if you have any other suggestions regarding growing roses.
Yes, these roses are growing in southern Nevada
A. That's a whole treatise in itself. The basics of rose growing are the following. Fertilize in January with a good rose fertilizer or flower fertilizer plus iron.
Follow it up with fertilizer applications about every 8 weeks, avoiding the hot summer months. Use compost applied to the soil around roses and make sure it is watered in well. Use wood mulch around roses to a depth of three to four inches.

Water as you would any other nondesert shrub. Enough water should be applied each time to wet the soil to a depth of 18 inches. Use at least two emitters if using drip irrigation.

Remove old roses from the bushes as the flowers are spent. Prune roses in late January after the worst of the winter is over.

Here are some great roses to plant in our hot desert climate from Weeks Roses.

Plant Garlic Now

Volunteers planting garlic

We planted garlic at the Orchard about two weeks ago. It should be in the ground and irrigated by mid-November. Garlic is planted in the late fall when the soil is still warm but the air temperature is dropping. The concept of late fall planting is to produce roots but keep the top growth from getting away from  you.

Just as a side note, we are always looking for volunteers out there. The Orchard has a “learn-by-doing” philosophy.

The soil was prepared for garlic with compost and a good starter fertilizer high phosphorus. Rocks larger than a golf ball are being removed from the planting beds. Since garlic is a root crop, we must have good drainage. The soil is being prepared to a depth of 18 to 24 inches to accommodate for these root crops. Other planting beds are being prepared to a depth of 12 inches.
Garlic plots at the orchard mulched with straw
The garlic commonly found in the grocery stores is a mild form that accommodates for the taste of the general public. However, if you like to experiment with food, the garlic palette is huge. But planting garlic from selections at the store will give you some hands-on experience if you have never grown garlic before.

You can produce a lot of garlic in a very small area and it is relatively easy to grow. They can also be produced in containers. Pick up some garlic bulbs from your local grocer and separate it into cloves. You can leave the papery outer covering still attached to the clove when planting. Next year you can order some from online vendors but for now, just get the experience of working with garlic.

One of our specialty garlics pushed for size
As I’ve mentioned before, the hardest part about growing garlic is the soil preparation. You cannot skimp on this part of the growing procedures. I like to soak the cloves for a few hours before planting if the cloves look a little dehydrated. The bottom, flat plate of the clove should be pointing down when planting. This means the pointy end is up. Space the cloves about 4 inches apart and about 2 inches deep. Firm the soil above the cloves but do not compress it with your feet. In fact, never put your feet on the prepared rows. Mulch the soil with straw or shredded paper to help keep it moist.

I like to give garlic a small amount of high nitrogen fertilizer once a month during its growing season and hold off on it the last two months before harvest (April and May). Make sure they don't go dry between irrigations when the bulbs are expanding (when you see new growth in the spring).

You should be harvesting late May or June depending on the variety. When the plant browns about 1/3 of its height then use a spading fork and lift them from the ground.

Someone's Drilling Holes in My Tree's Trunk! Or Maybe Its Borers!

Sapsucker damage on almond (Neplus)
not borers and not my neighbor's drill
Q. I have a nine year old semi-dwarf green gage plum tree in my yard. About a month ago I noticed about 20 small holes grouped together on one of the limbs. Each hole is a little less than 1/4 " in diameter. I can see no other holes on the tree. It is as if someone had taken a drill and drilled several small holes on the limb, and deep enough to get through the bark and slightly into the flesh of the tree. Any idea what may be causing this? This has never happened before. I did dormant spray the tree in early January. Do I need to spray the tree with insecticide?

A. This is most likely sapsucker damage to the tree. Sapsuckers are birds in the woodpecker family of birds that make holes in trees and feed on the sap or look for insects. I believe they are migratory here and cause damage as they pass through this part of the country.

There's the varmint! Who, me?
 If I am seeing the image in my mind correctly this is not due to insects or borers. This is what the damage looks like. The best control is to protect the trunk or limbs with wire cloth or chicken wire. We have trees that get damaged in the orchard by these birds and they have survived this way many years as long as they are healthy. It is definitely not good for the trees but there are not many other alternatives They seem to like some varieties of fruit trees more than others.

Tree Leaning Due to Shade

Q. I recently moved into a home in Henderson and I have a large back yard with about seven pine trees lining the property.  The trees are spaced approximately 8 feet apart.  I am contemplating planting fruit trees between the pines and once they reach maturity I would remove the pine trees.  What do you think about this approach?

Tree growth of young tree due to shade
A. Fruit trees will need about 8 hours of full sun to produce a goodly amount of fruit. If the trees are limited in light by the pine trees then the amount of fruit produced is affected. If you can provide near optimum light for the trees by leaving the pines then it should be fine. If the pines are too large and too close together then the fruit trees will not do well in these locations.
            If light is restricted during part of the day they will tend to grow (lean) toward the light. If most of the light is from above and shaded by trees early and later in the day then they will tend to grow upright with narrower branch angles and be less productive.
            If most of the light is coming from the east, they will grow (lean) toward the east. If light is from the west then they will grow toward the west. How light is received early in their lives determines the branch angles and the tree’s overall architecture. It is always best to give them as much free light, evenly, throughout the day as possible. In other words, I would not do it.

Plum Transplant Shock and Dieback ..Or is it?

Readers plum tree with dieback
Q. Attached are some photos of my semi-dwarf plum we just planted in September.  The left side of the tree seems to be dying.  The leaves are all browning.  We have it on a drip system along with a few other trees and shrubs which are all doing fine.  We water about 15 minutes each day. I sent these photos to the nursery and they said it’s transplant shock and it should be fine.  What is your opinion? 

A. After seeing your pictures I do not believe it is just transplant shock. Trees that large, when transplanted, go through a lot of shock which is true. It is always best to buy the smallest container size possible as it will catch up and surpass a larger tree due to a lesser degree of “transplant shock”.
            Transplant shock is when a plant has to “reorganize” and “renew” its root system as it leaves a container in a protected environment like a nursery and is put into a different, usually harsher environment.  Up to and from an
            The root system grows differently in a container than it does in the ground. When growing in a container, roots gather where there is the best water/air/nutrient environment; usually at the bottom and sides of the container.
First of all this is not my picture. I borrowed it from
Washington State University
but it does demonstrate how roots grow in containers nicely.
            Once in the ground, the best environment for roots shifts and is nearer the soil surface. This results in a “reorganization” of the roots as it adjusts to this totally new soil environment. During this shift new roots grow near the soil surface and older roots deeper in the soil die resulting in “transplant shock”. The degree of transplant shock results from the condition of the plant going into the ground as well as how it was handled at planting time.
            Now on to your tree and how it was handled at planting. Hopefully you dug the hole three to five times wider than the container. It did not have to be deep, just deep enough for the roots to be planted below the soil level.
            Next, hopefully, you amended the soil going into the hole with lots of compost and a starter fertilizer to mix in the backfill. The plant should be planted the same depth as it was in the container, no deeper and staked to keep the roots immobilized.
            In one picture you sent the tree appears to be planted fairly deeply but it is hard to gauge from a picture. If planted too deeply it can kill or damage the tree.
            Next the tree must be staked to prevent movement in the wind during the first complete growing season. Sometimes on larger trees that have more severe “transplant shock” it may require a second season. The stake should prevent the movement of the roots in the soil, not necessarily top movement. This is extremely important on container trees especially older container trees.
            I don’t think 15 minutes is enough time for irrigation unless during that 15 minutes you are giving the tree at least ten or maybe 15 gallons each time.
            Thirdly, every day watering is not necessary and may cause a problem similar to what you are seeing. Every day watering is fine in containers but once in the soil there is alot more soil available to hold water so every other day or even every three days is probably adequate during the summer. Planting in the fall you probably will get by watering twice a week.
            Lastly, the tree will do much better with a thick layer of mulch around the tree extending about three feet from the trunk in all directions but keeping the mulch six inches away from the trunk to prevent the trunk from rotting.

Apricot in Rock Mulch May Mean Sap

Q.  Thanks for the response to my almond question.  I saw that it actually ended up in the paper!  Good, I hope it helped some folks.  Now I need help on my apricot tree.  I notice what appears to be sap oozing from the trunk in a couple spots.  Is this normal?  Or should I be concerned? 
Readers apricot with sap and rock mulch..

A. Thank you for sending the picture.  On apricot, yes, you should be concerned.  On plum I would not be quite as concerned. 
            If you have been following my answers to questions in the newspaper than you know I am going to chastise you for putting rock around a fruit tree . This should be organic mulch, not rock mulch.
            Sap coming from a fruit tree does not always mean an insect or borer problem. Sap can also indicate stress. I am guessing but it looks like the tree is on the north side of a wall if the picture was taken in the morning. So we can probably ignore the chance of sunburn on the trunk.
            The tree is relatively young from the picture. I think we can narrow it down to three possibilities. Borers or boring insects are a possibility but they usually attack damaged wood due to sunburn.
            The other two possibilities are irrigation and how it was planted. Pull the rock mulch away from the trunk. It is possible to rot the trunk of the tree at soil level if mulch is placed directly against the trunk and the mulch is kept wet. Keep it at least 6 inches from the trunk.
Plum without borers losing sap after being pruned
            Once the rock mulch is pulled away from the trunk, next pull the soil away from the trunk.  Begin to pull soil carefully away from the trunk so that you do not damage it. Find the location where the roots begin to come from the trunk. That should be the depth at which it was planted.
            If these roots are deeper than ½ inch more than this, pull the soil away from the trunk and keep it away. Planting a fruit tree too deeply can cause a disease to begin called collar rot which can also cause sap to ooze from the trunk.
            The third thing is watering too often. Shallow, frequent irrigations can cause root dieback which can lead to stress which can lead to sap oozing from the trunk. You should not be watering daily. You should be watering deeply and less often. I hope this helps.