UC Nursery and Floriculture Alliance
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UC Nursery and Floriculture Alliance

From the UC Blogosphere...

Winter Pruning


Fruit Tree Winter Pruning Workshop 

By Kim McCue   UCCE Master Gardener


Pruning can actually be done throughout the year, depending on the plant and the desired result. However, pruning deciduous trees and shrubs during winter dormancy is advantageous because it's just plain easier to see what needs to be removed once the leaves have fallen and it's nice to get things under control before the fresh burst of growth in spring.


Bare plants reveal problem areas that may compromise plant health or create safety issues.  Use this opportunity to remove branches that are diseased, too dense in the center to allow sunlight and air circulation, or those that rub against each other creating gateways for disease and pests.  For safety, remove dead branches from trees to keep them from breaking off and causing property damage or personal injury.


Regular winter pruning of fruit bearing and flowering trees and shrubs encourages strong crop and flower production because more energy can be directed to the remaining fruit and flower buds when dormancy breaks.  Clearing dense areas in the center of the plant allows sun to reach fruit at the center of the tree aiding in the ripening process. Before pruning, however, determine whether your plant fruits or flowers on old wood versus new wood and prune accordingly.


Knowing what to prune in winter is only part of the task at hand; proper pruning technique is vital to a plant's health, appearance and/or crop production.  Always cut back to a part of the plant that will continue to grow and only use sharp, clean tools.   To learn more about proper winter pruning, please join the Master Gardeners for a free Advice to Grow By workshop this Saturday, January 20th, from 10:00 a.m. until noon. The discussion will be held in the Garden of the Seven Sisters, 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo.  The topic is selecting, planting and caring for bare root trees and will include a pruning demonstration. If inclement weather, the workshop will be moved to the auditorium adjacent to the parking lot.



Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 12:03 PM

Ventura ranchers thank UC Cooperative Extension

The Ventura County Cattlemen's Association publicly thanked UC Cooperative Extension and other organizations for their support during the devastating wildfires of late 2017.

In the space of 12 hours, the Thomas Fire ripped through vital grazing land that cattle rely on for their daily feed. Some animals were also killed in the fire. In a letter to the Ventura County Star, Beverly Bigger, president of the Ventura County Cattlemen's Association, said UCCE livestock and range advisor Matthew Shapero, the Ventura County agricultural commissioner and representatives of Ventura County animal services established an emergency program to supply five days of hay until ranchers could get on their feet.

UC Cooperative Extension also served as a one-stop location where ranchers could meet with representatives from multiple agencies to apply for assistance programs.

"We want to thank and recognize them for helping us in our time of need. We look forward to returning to our passion: managing and improving the land and continuing Ventura County's ranching heritage," Bigger wrote.

When rangeland burns, ranchers must scramble to feed their cattle. In Ventura County, UC Cooperative Extension stepped in to help after the Thomas Fire. (Photo: Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 10:49 AM

It's Butterfly Heaven at the Bohart Museum

Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly/moth collection at the Bohart Museum, enjoys sharing knowledge about insects. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Butterfly heaven! Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly and moth collection at the Bohart Museum of...

Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at 2:25 PM

Insect Art Is the 'In' Thing: Don't Miss Bohart Museum Open House on Jan. 21

Like to draw or color dragonflies? You'll have the opportunity to do just that at the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 21. This is a flameskimmer dragonfly, Libellula saturata. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

"Just call it a "Day of Insect Art!" Sunday afternoon, Jan. 21 promises to be a day of inspiration, creativity and delight...

Posted on Monday, January 15, 2018 at 6:00 PM

Growing Fruit Trees, Especially Brown Turkey Figs

Advice from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County

Client's Request: I need some help with pruning, grafting, and transplanting young fruit trees. I'm especially interested in growing Brown Turkey Figs.

MGCC's Help Desk Response: Thank you for contacting the UC Master Gardener Program Help desk with your questions about pruning, grafting, and transplanting young fruit trees. Some of your questions were answered on the phone and others required some “digging”.

Before pruning any fruit tree, it is important to know its bearing habits, and ultimately what shape or size you would like the tree to be when it reaches maturity. You mentioned that you would like to know how and when to prune the Brown Turkey fig that you bought and planted in a pot last year. You also mentioned that you wanted to know how and when to graft a fig branch (or scion) from your son's tree onto yours.

Brown Turkey Fig
Brown Turkey Fig
It is important to know that fig trees bear on first year wood. Pruning your tree in late fall after the main crop will allow the tree to recover and generate new wood for the next year's crop, or crops. Brown Turkey figs produce both an early and a late crop. The first crop or “breba” matures in early to midsummer, and the second, or main crop, matures in late summer to early fall. If you'd like both an early and a late crop, pruning should be done after the second crop is harvested. Sometimes severe pruning is needed to reduce a tree's size, or to encourage the tree to put its energy into the main crop. In this case, the breba crop will be severely reduced or eliminated. Pruning this way might also make new growth susceptible to cold injury. For your young tree, pruning for aesthetics will be your main concern, but as a general rule always prune any dead, diseased, dying or crossing branches as you find them.

Grafting a different fig cultivar onto your tree, involves taking scion wood from a healthy tree this winter, and preserving it in a bag with moist peat moss until spring when the grating should be done. Here is a link with detailed instructions about one grafting method you might try.

You might also consider getting hands on experience at the Golden Gate Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers Scion exchange on January 20th in Berkeley. Here you may take a grafting workshop, as well as finding hundreds of varieties of budwood for grafting and cuttings to root. Please see the following website for more information about the event, as well as its location. http://www.crfg.org/chapters/golden_gate/scionex.htm. (Editor's note: Many years ago, I attended the CRFG's Scion Exchange and brought home scions of 22 different types of figs. I planted them all directly 1 each in gallon containers. They all survived, much to my surprise, since I'm not fond of figs. Fig Newton cookies yes. They eventually all were donated to dia to a much better fate than my garden.)

You also mentioned that you have a two-foot-tall volunteer fig tree in your yard that you'd like to transplant. The best time to dig up and transplant a fig is now during its winter dormancy period. You will need to measure the trunk and calculate that for every inch of trunk diameter, you will need to allow for ten inches of root ball diameter when digging. So, if your tree is 1 inch in diameter you'll have to allow for an almost 1 foot diameter of root ball. You should also dig the root ball at least 1” beyond the canopy of the tree to minimize damage of any lateral roots.

Other important facts when transplanting your fig tree include: planting it in full sun, digging the new hole no deeper than the root ball, using existing soil when back filling the hole, and avoiding planting in areas that collect water, in order to mitigate the possibility of “wet feet”, which might make the tree more susceptible to root rot. Use the following link for a comprehensive guide to fruit tree planting and care. http://homeorchard.ucdavis.edu/8048.pdf

For more all-inclusive information on how to prune, including shaping, types of pruning cuts, and much more, see the following link. http://homeorchard.ucdavis.edu/8057.pdf

This is a lot of information to take in, but I hope that you are successful in your home gardening pursuits, especially for your fig trees.

Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (JJM)

Note: The  UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions.  Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA  94523, although we will be moving sometime soon. We will notify you if/when that occurs. We can also be reached via telephone:  (925)646-6586, email: ccmg@ucanr.edu, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/  MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog  (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/)


Posted on Monday, January 15, 2018 at 12:15 AM

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