2018 Fruit Production

Wow… it’s almost February already! As we have progressed past the harshest part of winter (hopefully), it’s time to think more about fruit production and items necessary to promote good plant growth. Grapes, brambles, blueberries, apples, peaches, pears, etc., all need pruned in the next few weeks if you haven’t already finished them.  I’ve added some pictures below to help determine what the finished product might look like. Good pruning for sunlight, air penetration and spray coverage is a key to good fruit production.


Grapes before pruning                             Grapes after pruning



Blackberries before pruning                    Blackberries after pruning



Blueberry before pruning                             Blueberry after pruning



Apple or Pear pruning cuts              Peach or Cherry pruning for open center


Tree fruit producers should also be thinking about dormant oil sprays and/or copper applications if fire blight was severe last year in your trees. Oils…only apply when temperatures are above 40°F, never during freezing weather (read the label). Timely applications of any insecticide or fungicide is necessary if you want to get the full benefit of using them, so plan now and have the correct products ready to use as needed.  Also remember, pesticide resistance management is something we all need to guard against. Read the labels of any pesticides being used and rotate to other products as listed on the labels.

Black Rot in Grapes– I have many homeowners who contact me each year, as fall approaches, saying their grapes are turning black and shriveling up just about the time they start to ripen. This is a problem that must be controlled in the spring as the new vines are growing. The period from immediate pre-bloom through 3 to 4 weeks after bloom is the most critical period for controlling black rot. New growth, no larger than seen in the picture below, is the time to start spraying.  Two fungicides, Mancozeb (ex. Bonide Mancozeb 37%) or Mycobutanil (ex. Immunox Fungicide) are products that control black rot. Be sure to read the label for proper application rate, preharvest interval and timing between sprays. If sprays are not made (missed), an improper rate applied or complete coverage is not obtained, you cannot expect to get satisfactory disease control of black rot.

A great resource for home growing fruit producers is OSU Bulletin 780, Controlling Diseases and Insects in the Home Fruit Plantings. Pick one up from your local OSU Extension Office.

2018 is well underway. Are you ready for a productive fruit growing season? Let’s get ready to prune!



Still Time to Plant While Harvesting

Even though we are in July, there is still time to plant many things in the garden.  To figure out what you can still plant, check how many days it takes the crop to mature, then count back from October 10, which is the average first frost in our area.  If there is enough time, you can still plant.  Some bean cultivars require as few as 45 days to mature.  By the end of the month, it will be time to start planting some cooler season crops like peas, turnips and other leafy vegetables.

What Happened to My Potatoes?!

We tried potatoes for the first time last year with some leftover seed potatoes a friend had given us and thought it would be worth a shot. They did pretty well, even though they were small and we had enough to keep up with, having potatoes a couple nights a week. This year, we had big plans. We got more seed potatoes and had plans of needing a root cellar and were wondering, just what would we do with all the potatoes!? Well, we won’t have any trouble and I’m glad we didn’t start construction on the root cellar just yet.


We thought we were waiting until the right time to harvest. The vines had just bloomed and started to die. Once the plant blooms, the energy is being devoted to the production of the flower and it is unlikely that any more energy will be diverted to growing potatoes. Unfortunately, this did not occur until after the week of the non-stop rains we had. Potatoes, like most other vegetables do well with consistent watering, meaning a consistent amount of rain each week, not consistently raining for a week, as we experienced! However, we know there is nothing we can do to control mother nature and we obviously didn’t have our potato bed prepared correctly as it must have needed much more drainage.


When we started digging the potatoes up, we had many smaller sized potatoes that were nice and firm, but unfortunately, our best-sized potatoes had rotted in the ground before we had a chance to dig them up. We also noticed that even the smaller potatoes were covered with what looked like white bumps all over. The white bumps are actually called lenticels. Lenticels are special pores in the plant tissue that allow oxygen exchange with the outside world, allowing the potatoes to “breathe.” The large amount of moisture we have been receiving caused the lenticels to swell and therefore become visible. They may also appear in humid storage environments and as long as there are no other signs of problems of things like fungal or bacterial disease, the potatoes remain safe to eat.


However, the presence of the lenticels tells us a lot about the quality of our soil. We obviously received an above average amount of moisture recently and even well draining soil would be wet, but we must work to increase the drainage of our potato area in the future. It also may be that we need to do an above ground bed or plant the potatoes in large containers


Good luck to any fellow potato growers and if you have some of the same problems we had and need more suggestions for increasing drainage to your garden, please call the office, stop in or email pye.13@osu.edu