Details for Pros to Know - May 12

Pat’s Corner: Looking For Some Sun unloading flatbed trailers of trees. Ok, I’m complaining when I shouldn’t be, as it will be July soon enough. Pat Appleby It is Tuesday, and as I sit down to write today I am checking the weather forecast and it looks like it will be beautiful for Mother’s Day. This cool, wet weather that has been with us has delayed many of our trees and shrubs as they leaf out for the season. That is a good thing as we are still having some areas reporting frost. You have heard me say that I grew up on a dry land wheat and alfalfa ranch north of Reed Point. My father continually lamented the drought and drilled into us that we need to be thankful for every drop we get. I still subscribe to Dad’s theory but I just wish it didn’t snow when we are A cool, wet spring puts us on alert for diseases that spring to life as the weather warms up. Many of the disease spores winter over in the nooks and crannies of the tree bark, in leaf litter and even in the soil. When the temperature is just right for each type of spore the spores release to float in the wind, rain or irrigation water and on the feet of pollinator insects. Disease spores, like the fire blight bacterium Erwinia amylovora, enter the plant through blossoms and new shoots or wounds in the bark. Apple, pear, hawthorn and mountain ash can all be susceptible but that generally doesn’t stop us from trying those varieties. Fire blight symptoms can show up overnight, when the temperature is greater than 65 degrees and the humidity or rain shower leaves just the right amount of moisture on the leaves, the moon is in just the right phase, and you have twirled on your head at least 3 times. Well, maybe not that last thing, but it is tricky for the average gardener to predict when fire blight is moving so you can take preventative action. If you talk to 3 people you will get 5 or 6 ideas for treatment to prevent (realistically you can only slow down) fire blight. Some folks say they use streptomycin sprayed at certain blossom stages, others suggest a prophylactic regimen of spraying with liquid copper, Serenade or soil drench with Actinovate. Check this link for more fire blight information: https:// pest-problem-solver/plantdisease/fire-blight/ If you missed the prophylactic treatment window and you are seeing the infected leaves and stems that need to be pruned out, it is best to wait until a hot, dry day when any ooze has dried up. Cut infected branches 6-12 inches into clean, green tissue. Disinfect your pruners with alcohol between each cut to avoid spreading the infection. Be sure that you bag up any branches you prune off for the trash, NOT your compost bin. Fire blight is a fact of life here in the Billings area so some thought might be given to looking for cultivars that are less susceptible. Full disclosure, Spring Snow crab is very susceptible to fire blight. Younger trees are more vulnerable as the fire blight can move into the trunk of the tree quickly. Once fire blight is in the trunk of the tree it is pretty much done. Older trees are better able to deal with infected new shoots. If you choose to fertilize your trees use a product with low nitrogen. Too much nitrogen encourages new shoots and new shoots are most damaged by fire blight. If all of this seems like too much to worry about, and you decide to make a change of tree variety, we can help you find a great option to fit your yard. In the last couple of years we have seen a good bit of blight on lilac shrubs. Any of the products listed above would be good for a prophylactic treatment. If you have seen wilted or black leaves you should consider treatment. Ninebark is another plant to keep your eye on as it is prone to powdery mildew. Preventative treatment can save you the work of pruning out infected branches. Again practice good sanitation and dispose of infected material in the trash. Many of you have some sort of compost pile going in your yard. Composting is a great way to keep green material out of the landfill. If you are new to composting you will want to check out the Home Composting MontGuide: https://store. Home-Composting__ MT199203AG.aspx The Cliff Notes version boils down to creating a controlled microbial process that breaks down organic materials into high-quality soil conditioner. That sounds like a bit of work and everyone has a favorite method. The important thing to remember is that compost needs to be turned frequently, kept moist and in a location that allows the pile to heat up to 145 degrees. That is the temperature needed to kill weed seeds and fly larvae. For those of you who don’t have time or space for composting we have in stock great compost for Rocky Mountain Compost right here in Billings. We have been getting several trucks of plants each week and the nursery is looking better each day. While we are still watching the cool nights, we are gearing up for a great Mother’s Day weekend. If you are looking for a gift for Mom consider a Canyon Creek Nursery gift certificate that will let her find the plant of her choice or maybe your gift is the labor of helping Mom with yard chores or planting. When I wasn’t working on Mother’s Day weekend I always made the rounds of nurseries to pick out my plants. I usually left my family at home for a little ‘me time’ as they are not patient enough to shop with a plant geek like me. What better place to visit to see new perennials, shrubs and trees? We are open this Mother’s Day Sunday 10am-4pm. We hope you will stop by with or without your family.

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