Homegrown Column June 06, 2009

My wife and I stopped in last Friday, and my wife asked you about our nectarine tree that did not leaf out at all this year. You informed her that you thought it was some sort of borer that killed it.
Well, unfortunately for us, you were right on the money with your diagnosis. My question for you is, what is the exact name of that borer that kills nectarine trees, and what can we do to prevent it happening again when we replant?
Thank you for your time and expertise.
— Ron

The borer you have is called a peach tree borer.

This borer attacks members of the genus Prunus that set a “stone type” fruit. This would include peaches, plums, cherries, apricots and almonds.

It can also affect their ornamental relatives such as cistena plum, pink flowering almond, purple leaf plums, European bird cherries, Schubert chokecherry, flowering cherries, double flowering plum, Nanking cherries and more.

This borer tunnels around under the bark like other shade tree borers, but it does it low down on the tree near ground level. Because of this, the best treatment is a drench around the tree (use a watering can or a bucket) of Permethrin.

As with all borer treatments, timing is important. With this guy, the tree should be drenched June 20, July 10, and again on July 30. Wet the bottom 6–8 inches of the trunk and soak the ground immediately around the trunk.

On edible fruit trees such as your nectarine, use the 2.5 percent concentrate of Permethrin according to label directions. The 38 percent concentrate is not labeled for use on edibles.

You can use it only on ornamentals, but you only have to apply it June 20 and again July 20.

Because this little monster has become so common in the valley, I recommend treating all susceptible trees even if you don’t see any symptoms.

I have a few flowering almonds on the side of my house and, upon pruning them, I noticed clusters of cherry-like fruit. We don’t use pesticides, so I was wondering if these would be safe to eat?
— Carrie from Craig

Most people never see the fruit of pink flowering almond because it’s rarely produced.

The fruit is actually edible, sort of. The fleshy covering is usually quite thin and it dries and turns a greenish brown in summer, revealing the pit with the seed inside.

This is how eating almonds develop as well. The nut inside the pit is edible but beware of any especially bitter nuts. The seeds contain hydrogen cyanide (as do eating almonds) but usually in small, non-harmful amounts.

Bitter ones have higher concentrations and should be avoided.

A related plant that has tasty fruit is Nanking cherry (Prunus tomentosa). It has plenty of cold hardiness, so it should do well in Craig as well.

They bear a shiny, bright red fruit that looks like a small cherry. They can be a bit tart until they’re very ripe, but I’ve noshed on them in the nursery and they make a delicious jam.

I need to move my tulips, which I planted a year ago. When is the best time to dig them up and replant?
— Janna

It’s best to wait until the foliage dies down. It’s important to leave the foliage on after bloom because it’s feeding the bulb, building it up for next year and forming next spring’s flowers.

Once the foliage dies down that job is done and you can safely move the bulbs.

I think it is best to replant the bulbs right away. Some people like to hold the bulbs in a cool, dark place all summer and plant them in the fall. That is probably a safer, surer way to do it but finding a cool, dry spot can be a challenge and besides, I’ve seen lots of people forget about their bulbs and by the time they rediscover them, they’re dried up and dead.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, online at http://www.bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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