Monday, January 8, 2018

Cold Damage

Horticulture Hotline 01/08/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Wow, what a difference a week makes! I thought I was going to be writing about different strategies in the landscape or around the house, and the craziest snow and cold weather hit that I can ever remember.

I’m very glad and thankful that this event wasn’t an ice, break limbs of trees, knock down powerlines, and knock out the electricity for thousands of people for days type of storm. Come to think of it, it seems that the ice is always the bad guy. Slip while walking on the ice on the driveway, slide while driving on the ice, ice building up on tree limbs causing them to break and damage something else including powerlines, cars, houses, and people…

Ironically, in agriculture ice is used to protect plants from the cold. Strawberries and citrus are the two crops that come to mind that are most commonly protected from the cold by spraying a thin layer of water on the plant and turning it to ice. You have to know what you are doing because too much ice will split limbs.

Of course, I’m already being ask what should I do for my lawn, trees, and shrubs after this “event”. Being the soil test geek that I am, I always recommend taking a soil test to figure out what the soil is needing or has too much of. I still haven’t met anyone, and I hang around some pretty sharp agronomist, that can look at a lawn and say you need 15#/M of dolomitic lime on that lawn. We all use labs to test the soil.

With the weather forecast, some T-Methyl would be good as a preventive for brown patch / large patch. SeaHume would help get some minor nutrients in the grass plant (helping to protect the plant from another cold event) and encourage rooting. 00-00-25 would help get some potassium in the plant that would help with cold hardiness and disease resistance. Cotton Burr Compost will help you fill in thin areas.

Winter weeds will be in full force when the snow melts – treat them now before they begin to flower. Depending on when you preemerged last, you might want to consider preemerging. This event was not a big leaching rain event like some we have had. The ice and snow when melted would not amount to much water.  

Trees and shrubs took a beating as well. Soil test would help them too. Right now organics would be the best thing to get them on their road to recovery. Organics are regulated by the microorganisms in the soil. Microorganisms break down the organic product into a useable form for the plant (like in the forest). If it is cold, microorganisms are slow and don’t make nutrients available to the plant. When it warms up the nutrients are there and ready for the plant as it needs them.

Back to Nature products as a mulch, Corn Gluten, Milorganite, Vermiplex (worm), worm castings, SeaHume, Fish, Seaweed, Fish & Seaweed, SUPERthrive, and others will help get the plants going when they are ready. Flowerbed Amendment and SeaHume granular will give you a lot of bang for your buck. 00-00-25 is a good addition to this 1-2 punch.

With potential cracks (fissures) in the plants from the freezing, Dominion would be a good thing to drench if you have a history borers or insect issues.

Pruning is the other hot topic. If you don’t have to prune, then wait. Pruning will open up a hole for insects and disease and you will lose the insulation of the dead tissue. Who knows, we may have another super cold event. If you have a plant that is total mush by your front door, go ahead and prune away. In about a month or two depending on the plant, you will see the new buds swell up and you will know where the live tissue is and where you should prune back to. Damaged tree limbs would be the exception.

An interesting fact is that if you look back in my old articles, these are the kind of things that need to be done this time of year – any year.

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