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Here are some things you can do to help your trees weather the winter

I saw a report last week that said 49 out of the 50 states had snow on the ground; the only state to miss the massive snowfall was Florida. Even Hawaii had 7 inches of snow in the mountain areas. So how does this affect us is the question I have heard a few times.

Although last week we saw some very cold days in the lower 20s, I don’t think we had enough cold to cause any damage to our area. We warmed up enough in the daytime to thaw everything out and our plants are prepared to handle those temperatures. Now if the coming weeks bring temperatures in the lower teens for extended time, which is not predicted, then we may need to reevaluate the situation.

So I would not be worrying much about outdoor trees and shrubs this year, in fact there are some things you can be doing now to help them out. Here are some suggestions for tree maintenance around your home in the winter months.

Q. How can I get more pecans on my pecan tree next year?

A. Pecan trees like most plants require fertilizing and maintenance to be successful. Now is the time to start preparing to fertilize pecan trees. In our area pecan trees should be fertilized from mid January through March. For older trees we recommend 1 pound of 13-13-13 fertilizer for each inch of trunk diameter, not exceeding 30 pounds. Start spreading fertilizer about 3 feet away from the base of the tree and fertilize all the way out past the drip line, or outer branches.

Q. When should I prune and fertilize my apple and pear trees?

A. Proper pruning over time leads to more fruit, fewer disease and insect troubles, and an overall healthier tree. You should wait until late February or March to do all major pruning on apple and pear trees, this is right before any new growth occurs. Then in the summertime you can remove any new shoots or broken and cosmetically undesirable limbs.

However late January and February is the time to fertilize your apple and pear trees. With fruit trees there are different recommendations depending on the age and type of fruit. There are many different suggestions for fertilizing apple tree from different experts. But the safe way to determine your needs is by applying a pound of a complete fertilizer, like 13-13-13, for each year of age of the tree, under five years old. Then you may want to come back in May and apply about 1 pound of ammonium sulfate. Therefore a 3-year-old apple tree would receive 3 pounds of 13-13-13 now and 1 pound of ammonium nitrate or ammonium sulfate in May.

After apple and pear trees reach bearing age, more than 5 years of age, apply a complete fertilizer. A rate of 2 to 3 pounds of fertilizer per inch of diameter of trunk diameter, measured just above the soil line, is adequate for the soil in our area.

David Carter is the director of the Adams County Extension Service. He can be reached at 601-445-8201.

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