Winter fruit and nut mix | Agriculture

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Most think we will have winter conditions at some point.

However, the long-term forecast calls for a warmer and drier winter as La Nina conditions prevail over the southeastern United States. However, it is still important to prepare our landscapes and gardens for the things to come. Many fruit and nut trees were battered by the deep frost in February. Many fruit trees did not survive and others are still reacting badly. Many gardeners in the area have a variety of fruit trees and shrubs that require special attention each fall.

Stone fruits, such as peaches, plums, and nectarines, should be sprayed with a protective 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 late fall and winter, as copper-based fungicides will defoliate peaches, plums and nectarines. In addition, it is also a good idea to apply a spray of dormant oil to help control mealybugs. The products can be mixed together, but always be sure to read the labels for more specific application instructions. If you come across any broken or damaged limbs, now is a good time to remove them. Don’t wait until later in the year to do routine pruning.

Figs are a very popular fruit. With the exception of rust development in late summer, they are relatively easy to grow and present few problems. The rust problem does not cause any damage to the fig in the long run, but it does make the plants unattractive. Collecting the old, diseased leaves will reduce the problem next year. Figs grow best in organic, fertile soil. An application of thick mulch, 6 to 12 inches thick, will help improve the soil, regulate soil moisture, isolate the trunk from severe frost, and reduce nematode damage. Most gardeners find themselves overgrown with leaves in the fall. Take advantage of this bonus. Now is the perfect time to mulch.

Blackberries are another hard and reliable fruit for some residents of Victoria County. Old canes should be removed every summer after harvesting the fruit. If you haven’t trimmed the old canes, now is a good time. Make sure you don’t prune the stems this year. Your fruit production next year will come from this year’s growth. Blackberries are difficult to weed, so mulch them extensively to reduce weed growth in subsequent years.

Pecans have now lost most of their nuts. A long pole can also be used to remove any remaining pecans from the hulls before the squirrels and crows get them. When harvesting is complete, spray the trees with dormant oil to control mealybug and phylloxera. Keep broken limbs picked up, as they can often harbor insects and disease.

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

Even though we may not experience a colder winter, it is still a good practice to do all of the basic dormant season practices for our landscape and our fruit and nut trees. Please call me at 361-575-4581 if you have specific questions.

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

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


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