Matt Bochat

Matt Bochat

Most would think that we will at some point have some winter weather. However, the long-term forecast is for a warmer and dryer winter as La Nina conditions prevail over the southeastern United States. However, it is still important to prepare our landscapes and gardens for things to come. Many area gardeners have a variety of fruiting trees and shrubs that require a little special attention each fall.

Stone fruit like peaches, plums and nectarines, should be given a protective spray with a copper fungicide or Bordeaux mixture. This is applied to help protect these fruit trees from a serious bacterial disease called bacterial canker. It should only be applied in the late fall and winter because copper fungicides will defoliate peaches, plums and nectarines. In addition, it is also a good idea to apply a dormant oil spray to help control scale insects. The products can be mixed together but always make sure to read the labels for more specific application instructions. If you encounter broken or damaged limbs this is a good time to remove them. Do not wait until later in the year to do the routine pruning.

Figs are a very popular fruit. Except for development of rust in late summer, they are relatively easy to grow and have few problems. The rust problem doesn’t cause the fig any long term harm, but it does make the plants unattractive. Picking up the old diseased leaves will decrease the problem next year. Figs grow best in an organic, fertile soil. An application of heavy mulch (6 to 12 inches thick) will help improve the soil, regulate soil moisture, insulate the trunk from hard freezes and reduce the damage caused by nematodes. Most gardeners find themselves overrun with leaves in the fall. Take advantage of this bounty. It is a great time to mulch.

Blackberries are another tough, reliable fruit for some in Victoria County. Old canes should be removed each summer after fruit is harvested. If you have not pruned out the old canes, now is a good time. Be sure not to prune this year’s canes back. Your fruit production next year will come from this year’s growth. Blackberries are hard to weed, so mulch them heavily to reduce next years weed growth.

Pecan trees have dropped most of their nuts by now. A long pole can also be used to knock out any remaining pecans from the shucks before the squirrels and the crows get them. Once the harvest is completed spray the trees with dormant oil to control scale and phylloxera. Keep broken limbs picked up for they may often harbor insects and disease.

If you have planted a variety of semi-hardy citrus in the past few years, now is a good time to apply dormant oil to control scale and overwintering whitefly larvae. They do not require pruning but can be pruned to control size. Be prepared to protect your citrus trees if freezing temperatures appear in the forecast.

Even though we may not experience a colder winter, it’s always a good practice to do all the basic dormant season practices for our landscape and fruit and nut trees.

Please give me a call at 361-575-4581 if you have specific questions.

Source: Michael Potter, County Extension Agent – Horticulture, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension

Matt Bochat is a County Extension Agent – Ag/Natural Resources Victoria County Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.

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