Monday, January 28, 2013

Solving the Mystery of Pruning Roses

February is the month when most modern roses need to be pruned.  Even if your roses have already begun growth, the time has come to prune.  Annual heavy pruning is essential to insure the prolific bloom and long-life of a rose bush.

Explaining the concept of rose pruning without a live bush to demonstrate on is difficult, so let your mind loose to help visualize the following steps in rose pruning:

  • Pruning of roses is actually done year round.  Every time you cut off old blooms and remove twiggy growth, you are actually promoting new growth.  There are two times a year when you prune more seriously, spring and fall.
  • You will need the following items: a good pair of hand pruners (preferably the scissor type, not anvil type), a sharp keyhole saw and large loppers, a heavy pair of leather gloves, a pruning compound and a dull knife.
  • The first step in spring pruning of Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras, Floribundas and Climbing roses is to remove any canes that are dead or just old and non-productive.  These canes are usually gray in color and scaly.
  • This pruning will encourage future “basal” breaks which are the life blood of any rose bush.  Basal breaks refer to new shoots, soon to be producing canes, which arise from the graft union.  These should not be confused with “suckers” which arise from the rootstock below the graft union.  Remove all suckers.
  • Beginning to fine tune the pruning, remove all twiggy growth on the remaining canes (note: the fine tune pruning on climbing roses should be done after they bloom in the spring).  Try to clean out the middle of the bush as much as possible.  This allows for good air circulation to prevent insects and disease.
  • Now you are ready to prune on the good healthy canes.  If your roses have already flushed growth, it is important to prune each cane back to a dormant bud.  A bud that has already begun growth and is then pruned will simply continue to grow vigorously and bloom very little.  A dormant, non-growing bud will initiate growth after pruning and will produce an abundance of blooms.
  • One comment used to describe pruning is to “prune to an outside bud.”  This means when picking the point on a given cane to cut back to, make sure there is a good bud on the cane facing toward the outside of the plant.  This will insure the growth of the new bud is to the outside, therefore keeping the center of the rose bush clear and open for air circulation.
  • Another guideline in pruning back an individual cane is to cut the cane at the point when the diameter of the cane is the size of a pencil or slightly larger.  This is normally at a height of 18 to 14 inches.  If there is the need to prune back to a dormant bud, the size of the cane may be larger and the cane length may be shorter.

The final product of your pruning should be a rose bush about 18 to 24 inches tall with 4 to 8 canes.  Add some mulch, water and tender-loving-care, and that pitiful looking rose bush will soon give you a shower of flowers.

Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes Classes Offered

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service- Wise County together with Angel’s Care Home Health and the Wise County Extension Diabetes Coalition are planning Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes. The five week program series will begin Tuesday, February 19, 9 to 11am at the Wise County Extension Office, 206 S State in Decatur. Other class dates will be on Tuesday, February 26 and; March 5, 12, 19. Each session is different and will be presented by Health Professionals so you’ll want to attend all four.
 There is a registration fee of $25.00 for all five sessions to cover the cost of publications purchased for this program. To register please call the Extension office at 940/627-3341 or you may drop by our office at 206 S. State, Suite A, in Decatur.
The five-week series targets people with type 2 diabetes. Participants will learn the skills they need to understand and manage their diabetes, to reduce their risks for complications and to attain their highest possible level of wellness. This program aims to help people control their diabetes rather than letting the disease control them.
The curriculum/sessions we will cover in the Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes will include:
  • What is Diabetes?
  • Nutrition: First Step to Diabetes Management
  • One Diabetes Diet- No Longer the Sole Option
  • Managing Your Blood Glucose
  • Nutrition Labels
  • Diabetes and Exercise
  • For Good Measure at Home and Eating Out
  • Diabetes Medicines
  • Preventing and Managing Complications
These classes are based on the latest research and meet the current national standards of the American Diabetes Association. It is important to be aware that classes are not meant to substitute for the care by a physician- everyone with diabetes should see a doctor regularly.
 I encourage you to call the Extension office today so that you can take control of managing your diabetes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Soil & Water Sampling – Why should we do it?

Soil Sampling:

            We are entering into the middle of winter season – leaves have fallen and lawns are going dormant.  What does this mean?  Well, for most of us, it means no more mowing or fertilizing until spring.  With that being said, it’s a perfect time to take advantage of a very important part of turf management – taking a soil sample!

            Unfortunately, most people in Wise County have never taken a soil sample.  It’s a very easy task and the information obtained from the analysis is vital in creating an environmentally safe nutrient management program for your turfgrass.  Without an analysis of your soil, you could be applying nitrates, phosphates, and other constituents into your soil that are not required.  Furthermore, you could be damaging both the turf and the environment if you use inorganic or organic fertilizers inappropriately.

            So, this month, come by the local County Extension office and make the right choice for your turf and your environment – take a soil sample.  It is inexpensive and will pay dividends down the road!

Water Sampling:

            Many times, you hear folks talking about taking soil samples in order to apply the correct type and rate of fertilizer for their turfgrass.   But should we analyze our irrigation water as well?  The answer is “yes”!

            Poor quality water from irrigation wells exists throughout Texas.  Some have a high sodium content which can create problems with turf and ornamentals.  Water with high pH values may limit nutrient availability in soils and promote certain turf diseases.  Other waters may have toxic levels of some chemical constituents.  As a result, turfgrass quality can be compromised and additional irrigation from this type of irrigation water will only compound the problem.

            A water analysis provides critical information pertaining to the types and amounts of elements found in your irrigation water.  It also provides the necessary information required to determine how well suited your water is for outdoor irrigation.  So, to put your mind at ease about your water source, take a sample!

            For more information on “Soil Sampling and Water Sampling”, go to the Aggie-Turf web site at and click on “News/Publications”.

Responding to Stress

According to the American Psychiatric Association “one-third of Americans are living with extreme stress. Stress is taking a toll on people – contributing to health problems, poor relationships, and lost productivity at work.”  Some short-term stress can be positive – causing us to deal constructively with daily problems or meet challenges or deadlines. But, when stress remains long-term – chronically or continuously – it can be damaging both emotionally and physically.
What can be done about stress in our lives? First, identify what is causing the stress. Consider whether your stressors are:
  • major or minor (e.g., lost keys or lost job),
  • temporary or permanent (e.g., giving a speech or a poor marriage relationship),
  • relational (e.g., uncomfortable living situation or stressful work relationship), or
  • internal (e.g., unrealistic expectations, or low self-esteem or self criticism).
Once you identify the cause(s), it may be easier to choose strategies to help alleviate the stress. Below are four approaches that may help.
When you need to deal with stress on the spot, try these strategies: count to 10 before you speak; take 3-5 slow, deep breaths; go for a walk; say “I’m sorry” if you make a mistake; and begin the day by breaking bigger problems down into smaller ones.
The healthier you are, the better able you are to manage stress. Try to get 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Exercise not only helps you get in shape, but it also helps you relieve pent up tension, sleep better, and burn up some of the chemicals that are released with the bodily response to stress. It is also important to get enough sleep (about 8 hours each night). 
Eat a healthy diet which includes lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as choosing lean meats and eating less refined sugar, processed foods, and saturated fats.
Have a healthy attitude. Most people who are resilient to stress do two important things: they focus on immediate issues – what needs to be done right now, and they have an optimistic explanatory style – assuming their troubles are temporary (“I’m tired today”) rather than permanent (“I’m washed up”); specific (“I have a bad habit”) rather than universal (“I’m a bad person”). Find enjoyment in life. Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to fight stress. Try to find one thing to do each day that you enjoy – even if it’s just for 15 minutes.
Left alone, stress can be bad for both your physical and mental health. The time and energy you spend managing your stress will pay off in the long run.
For more information, contact Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Wise County at 940/627-3341.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Early Weed Control

Early weed control in pastures may be one key to pasture recovery and acceptable forage production this spring.  Thousands of acres of Wise County range and pasture support excessive cover of weeds and brush that use valuable water, reduce grass production and result in soil erosion. These noxious plants must be managed effectively for pastures to reach their production potential. Use of herbicides provides an effective and efficient alternative for controlling weeds to improve pastures and maintain them in a highly productive condition.

 Some herbicides provide a high degree of control of certain species; however, seldom is a species eradicated. Consider other potential range land uses when developing a brush management program. Many trees, shrubs and forbs are valuable as food and cover for wildlife and may be an important component in livestock diets. Therefore, a brush management program should provide for use of control methods that give optimum benefits to livestock and wildlife.

Herbicide application may increase palatability of poisonous plants. Thus, they are more likely to be consumed by livestock. To prevent losses to toxic plants, herbicide-treated areas with poisonous plants present should not be grazed until the toxic plants dry up and lose their palatability.

Properly used herbicides are effective and safe. Misuse can result in poor brush and weed control and possible hazards associated with herbicidal drift, dangerous residues, or killing desirable plants. Listed below are points to follow for proper herbicide use:

·         Identify the weed or brush species and evaluate the need for control.
·         Consider expected benefits, costs and alternative control practices.
·         Select and purchase the suggested herbicide for the weed or brush species.
·          Read and follow herbicide label directions for allowable uses, application
       rates and special handling or mixing requirements.
·          Provide and require the use of proper safety equipment.
·            Calibrate spray equipment.
·            Mix herbicides in a ventilated area, preferably outside.
·            Spray under conditions that prevents drift to susceptible crops.
·            Apply the herbicides at the suggested rate and time.
·            Keep a record of the herbicide used, the time required to spray, weather
conditions, rate of herbicide in carrier, date, location and the person using
the herbicide.
The sprayer used must apply the correct quantity of herbicide mixture to a specific area. To calibrate spray equipment, see Extension publication L-5465, “Weed Busters: Sprayer Calibration Guide.”

Suggested herbicides must be registered and labeled for use by the Environmental
Protection Agency. Because the status of herbicide label clearance is subject to change, be certain that the herbicide is currently labeled for the intended use.

The user is always responsible for the effects of herbicide residue on his livestock and crops, as well as for problems that could arise from drift or movement of the herbicide from his property to that of others. Always read and follow carefully the instructions on the container label.