Video of the Week:
Mark the date to attend the Kansas Turfgrass Conference in conjunction with KNLA on December 6, 7 & 8 in Topeka.
The conference is an excellent way to learn about turf, nursery and landscape management, visit with old friends, network with new ones, and see all the latest equipment and supplies from local and national vendors.
The conference has been approved for Commercial pesticide recertification hours:
1 Core hour 3A - 8 hrs 3B - 9 hrs
International Society of Arboriculture CEUs and GCSAA education points will also be available by attending the conference.
Take advantage of the discounted preregistration rate and register by November 22! Download a copy of the program, get exhibitor information, or register online http://2016ktf.eventbrite.com
Reproducing Apple Trees
So, how do you reproduce an apple that is like the parent? The most common way is by grafting. Grafting is a procedure that joins two plants together. The upper part (or scion) becomes the top part of the tree, while the lower part (or stock) provides the root system or part of the trunk. In apples, the rootstock is often used to dwarf the tree so it is easier to prune, spray and harvest.
Apples are relatively easy to graft. How to graft is beyond the scope of this newsletter, but local libraries should have materials that cover the procedure, or you can find an excellent publication on the web at http://muextension.missouri.edu/explorepdf/agguides/hort/g06971.pdf (Ward Upham)
Garden Soil Preparation - It's Not Too Late
There is a limit to how much organic material such as leaves can be added in one application. Normally, a layer 2 inches deep is adequate with 5 to 6 inches being the maximum that can be added at one time. Shredding the material before application encourages faster and more complete decomposition due to increased surface area. Remember, soil preparation is an important key to a successful garden. (Ward Upham)
High pH Soils and What to Do With Them
Now would be a good time to have a soil test done to see if your pH is too high. If so, sulfur can be added either now or in the spring to lower the pH. Different textures of soil require different amounts. A sandy soil needs 7 pounds of sulfur per 1,000 square feet to reduce pH one point. A loam soil needs 11 pounds and clay needs 17 pounds to do the same. For example, if you wished to lower pH from 8.5 to 6.5 on a loam soil, you would need 22 pounds of sulfur per 1,000 square feet.
So, what pH do we shoot for? For most plants, a pH between 6.0 and 7.0 is preferred. Unfortunately, adding sulfur to lower pH is not as clear-cut a solution as we would like. Here are some other factors to keep in mind.
Free calcium carbonate: Some soils have free calcium carbonate, actual particles of limestone mixed in the soil. These "calcareous" soils normally have a pH of 7.3 to 8.5, with 8.2 to 8.3 being most common. In order for us to lower the pH with sulfur, all free calcium carbonate must be neutralized first. A recent soil test showed 6.7 percent free calcium carbonate. One pound of sulfur is needed to neutralize three pounds of calcium carbonate. Assuming 80 pounds for a cubic foot of soil, you would need about 1.75 pounds of sulfur per square foot just to neutralize the free lime. Additional sulfur would be needed to lower pH. Adding this much sulfur to a soil at one time is not recommended.
Not all high pH soils are calcareous. Perform this simple test to see if your soil contains appreciable amounts of free lime. Apply one drop of vinegar to dry soil. A vigorous fizz usually means the soil contains at least 3 percent calcium carbonate. A mild fizz suggests a calcium carbonate of between 1 and 2 percent and a fizz that can only be heard suggests the soil has a calcium carbonate content less than 1 percent.
How sulfur works: Elemental sulfur does not lower pH directly. It must first be oxidized to the sulfate form with the result being sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid produces hydrogen, which acidifies the soil and lowers pH. The oxidation takes place primarily through microbial activity.
Oxidation takes time: Microbial oxidation of elemental sulfur takes time and depends on:
- number of sulfur oxidizing bacteria present
- temperature (75-104 degrees optimum)
- moisture content of soil (too wet or too dry will slow down process)
- size of sulfur particles (the smaller the better)
A single sulfur application normally takes at least 2 years for most the sulfur to react and form sulfuric acid. This, of course, depends on the above factors. So, what do you do about calcareous soils? See the companion article in this week’s newsletter for specific recommendations. (Ward Upham)
Iron Chlorosis and Calcareous Soils
A popular recommendation for high pH soils is adding sulfur to lower pH. This works well for many soils, but not those that are calcareous. Calcareous soils are those that contain actual particles of calcium carbonate (limestone). Calcareous soils can be difficult to practically impossible to acidify because the sulfur must neutralize all the free limestone before the pH is affected long term. In many cases you would need well over a pound of sulfur per square foot just to neutralize the free lime.
So, what do you do? That depends on the situation. With vegetable gardens and annual flowerbeds, work products into the soil during the time of year when there are no plants present. Oregon State University suggests mixing 5 pounds of sulfur per 100 square feet into the soil before planting. The idea is to form little pockets of acidity that result in enough iron availability for the plants during the year of application. Note that this must be done each year. Another possibility is to use iron chelates. Iron chelates hold the iron in such a way that the plant can get to it. However, not all iron chelates will work in high pH soils. For soils with a pH over 7.2, use a chelate that contains FeEDDHA (Ethylene diamine-N,N bis(2hydroxyphenylacetic acid)). This can be found in the products Sequestar 6% Iron Chelate WDG, Sequestrene 138 and Millers FerriPlus. Chelates can either be mixed into the soil at planting or sprayed on the foliage early in the season. Reapply as needed. (Ward Upham)
Why Do Houseplants Lose Leaves After Being Brought Inside?
Some houseplants are acclimatized before they are sold but many are not. So how do we help our new houseplants or those moved inside acclimatize to their new home environment? Houseplants should start out in an area of the home that receives plenty of light and then gradually moved to their permanent, darker location. This process should take 4 to 8 weeks depending on the degree of difference in light levels between the initial and final location of the plant. Remember, plants need to be acclimatized whether they are moved from a sunny location to one that receives less light or from shade to sun. Understanding plant processes allows us to anticipate potential problems. Acclimatization gives our houseplants a greater chance of retaining leaves and avoiding the stress of completely replacing them. (Ward Upham)
Contributors: Ward Upham, Extension Associate