Friday, February 25, 2011

Pruning the Raspberry Patch

I’ve already started to prune my raspberries. The snow is gone and if I wait much longer I’ll need to prune around newly emerging canes which will make the task more difficult.

Cut the plants back to about 3 feet

My plants are of the primocane (aka ever-bearing) category which bear fruit on first year as well as second year old canes. If your plants produce fruit at the tip of the canes you also have a primocane variety. If your plants produce fruit only off the side of two year old canes (aka biennial, summer-bearing and floricane), you have one of the biennial varieties of raspberries.

Regardless of what type raspberry plants you have, cut them back to a height of 3 feet. This allows you to see what you are doing and helps keep the canes from whipping you in the face as you move through the patch of brambles. The next pruning steps depend on which of these two types you have.
If you have the biennial type of raspberry, cut out the dead canes, remove any really thin canes and canes that are horizontal.  Prune the remaining canes so they are spaced about 5 inches apart. Leave the thickest canes as these produce the biggest berries.

Spacing the important!

If you have a primocane variety, you have two choices. You can cut all the canes back to the ground or you can treat them as if they are a biennial variety. Cutting the canes to the ground will result in the production of fruit at the tips of this year’s canes sometime later this fall. If you treat the canes as described for the biennial plants, you will enjoy a crop from last year’s canes and another crop in the fall on this year’s canes.
I decided to treat my primocane variety as I would a biennial type. There are several reasons for this. The first reason - I would like to have a mid-season harvest of berries. The second reason is even more important. Depending on the fall weather, the berries that form at the tips of this year’s canes may not mature before the plants shut down for the winter.

If you plant the biennial type of raspberry you run the risk of losing the canes during a hard winter. If the canes are killed you lose the crop. If you plant one of the primocane varieties, even if last year’s canes die during the winter, the new canes are capable of producing a crop. The nursery where you purchase your raspberry plants will be able to tell you the types they have available. Raspberry plants are usually in high demand so be sure to visit your local nursery as soon as they open to purchase your plants.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fruit tree workshops scheduled for Saturday, March 12

A note from Dr. Ramesh Pokharel, Western Colorado Research Center, B 1/2 road in Grand Junction, Colorado.

"The "Cytospora Canker; disease biology and management strategy" held on Feb. 22, 2011 was completely filled. Thus, I have decided to conduct a second session on 12th of March 8.30 to 11 AM at WCRC-Orchard Mesa site. Please, book your seat for the workshop by calling Donna at 434-3264 X 201 and sending us the registration form and your payment. The form is available on our website: - future events. Registration is limited to 25 people so register as soon as possible. Pre-registration is required.
The public pruning workshop is scheduled for March 12, 2011 at WCRC-Orchard Mesa site from 1:00PM to 4:00PM. The registration form is available on our website: - future events. Registration is limited to 80 people so register as soon as possible. Pre-registration is required.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Beekeeper Class in Grand Junction on March 5

Bob Hasse, one of the most experienced (and enthusiastic) beekeepers in western Colorado, will be presenting a program "Been Thinking About Raising Bees in Your Back Yard?" on March 5, 2011 from 10 AM until noon at the John McConnell Math & Science Center, 2660 Unaweep Ave in Grand Junction. This is not a beginner bee course, but intended to cover preliminary planning, fundamental considerations and challenges involved with keeping one or more hives of honeybees. There is a charge for the program.

For details, visit:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Potato hollow heart is influenced by water, fertilizer and spacing

Hollow Heart of Potato

When potatoes grow too fast, the inside of the tuber tears apart as seen in this photo. This occurs when potatoes are improperly watered, improperly fertilized with nitrogen, or planted too far apart. Hollow heart not only results in the loss of edible flesh due to the need to cut out the discolored tissue before cooking, but can contribute to rot when hollow heart cracks to the surface of the tuber.

Fertilizer: Applying an excessive amount of organic matter high in nitrogen, or over applying an organic or synthetic nitrogen product can increase hollow heart due to an excessive amount of nitrogen being available during the tuber enlargement stage of growth. A soil test is important in determining the fertilizer needs of potatoes and your other vegetable crops.

Nitrogen products, whether organic ( ), or synthetic, should be applied in split applications and not all at one time. Once you know the amount of nitrogen required, one-third to two-thirds is typically applied after the plants emerge with the remaining required amount applied 60 days after planting. Smaller but more frequent applications of nitrogen are recommended.

A soil test will tell you what nutrients in addition to nitrogen are required. Other than nitrogen, these nutrients will need to be applied and worked into the soil prior to planting. If you want a soil test analysis run on your soil, you can submit a sample through our office. We will need to receive this form along with your sample(s). I will provide you recommendations on what you need and how the nutrients should be applied based on the crop you plan on growing. A soil test will also indicate if you have a salt problem you should be concerned about. We can test your soil and irrigation water for salts at no charge at our offices in Mesa, Delta, and Montrose Counties.

Watering: Potatoes should not be allowed to drop below 60-65% of available soil moisture. 75 – 85% soil moisture is preferred after the plants emerge from the soil and before they start to set tubers. When the plants start to set tubers, the soil moisture content should be maintained between 80 and 90%. The best way to determine when tubers start to set is by digging into the soil and checking the stolon tips to see if they are starting to swell. This usually occurs when the plants start to flower.

To determine the moisture content of the soil, you can use the soil ball technique ( ) or by checking the lenticles. Lenticles become enlarged when soil moisture is excessive. See  for an explanation of lenticles on potatoes.

Spacing: While the spacing of potatoes varies somewhat with variety, row width is typically 30 to 36 inches. For cultivars with a tendency to develop oversized tubers or set few tubers, such as Katahdin and Kennebec, seed pieces should be spaced 6 – 9 inches apart within the row. For cultivars that produce a heavy set, such as Norchip, seed pieces should be spaced 11 – 14 inches apart in the row. Be sure to check the production characteristics of the cultivar you are planting to determine the required spacing. Your local nursery or garden center should be able to provide you guidance on spacing for the varieties of seed potatoes they sell.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Potatoes have Lenticles!

Have you ever wondered what those spots are on a potato? Not the eyes but the white spots seen in this photo. They are breathing pores called lenticles.

The potato is a modified stem and stems have lenticles. These allow for the uptake of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide. All living cells respire and require oxygen. During respiration, carbon dioxide is given off as a waste product.
This tuber grew in the orientation shown. The lenticles are much larger on the bottom of the tuber, the portion that was deeper in the ground. The portion of the tuber closest to the surface has lenticles so small they are difficult to see. The oxygen level decreases and the carbon dioxide level increases the deeper you go in the soil. As a result the lenticles have to be bigger at the bottom of the potato to maintain proper gaseous exchange. This tuber may also have been overwatered which also would have increased lenticle size.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Learn about Bedbugs - Wednesday, Feb 16

 If you want to learn more about bedbugs than you ever thought possible, attend the bedbug program at C building at the Mesa County Fairgrounds on Wednesday, February 16. The session is from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Forrest Saint Aubin, a board certified entomologist, from Leawood Kansas, with 50 years experience as an entomologist has developed presentations on the biology and control of bedbugs for audiences across the nation. He will discuss the steps you need to take to protect yourself from bedbug bites and infestations, how to avoid bringing bedbugs home and how to manage bedbugs once they invade your home to include heat treatments, chemical treatments, and sanitation technique.

Terri Randall, entomologist with Colorado State University will have her bedbug colonies available for everyone to see and will host a feeding demonstration. Kids and others who want a bedbug tattoo, are encouraged to attend. A bedbug tattoo is created but placing a stencil over your skin and allowing bedbugs to feed within that stenciled area. Isn’t that going to be fun!
Kathy Palmer from Cedaredge will have her bedbug sniffing dog Velvet on hand and will discuss how she trained her dog and how a bedbug sniffing dog is used to identify bedbug infestations.

Business owners, especially those how sell used merchandise, shelter operators, lodging operators and anyone else interested in learning more about bedbugs is encourage to attend.

This opportunity is brought to you by the Mesa County Health Department and Colorado State University Extension.

This opportunity to learn about bedbugs is free. Please call 970 244-1834 to register. If you are not familiar with how to reach C building at the Mesa County Fairgrounds, check out the information at .