[NAFEX] Pruning and Dormant Spray

William C. Garthright billg at inebraska.com
Mon Feb 18 14:33:33 EST 2008

I hate to interrupt this discussion with a fruit question (that's just a 
little joke, I assure you), but...

With last year's nasty April freeze in mind - and Nebraska's normally 
unpredictable weather - I'd like to delay breaking dormancy as much as 
possible this spring. So far, it's been a remarkably uniform winter, 
with some snow cover (not a lot) and below-normal temperatures almost 
all the time since the first of December. We usually have warm spells, 
but not this year. Of course, that can change at any time.

I've read that both pruning and dormant oil spray encourage plants to 
break dormancy, earlier than they would otherwise. But I've also read 
that dormant spray can react with some fungicides, so you need to keep 
them separate by a couple of weeks (sulfur and captan, anyway). Last 
year (my first year at this), it seemed to make sense to prune first, 
and then spray with dormant oil, since the trees would be more open - 
and require much less spray - after pruning. This year, I'm struggling 
to reconcile all these different requirements. (Note that I have a big 
variety of different fruit trees, bushes, and vines, which just makes 
things harder.)

Any recommendations? I've got awhile to go yet, but I want to be ready. 
How late can I wait on these things? And what order would you recommend? 
I need to prune and to spray with dormant oil, and I'd also thought to 
do a dormant spray of lime sulfur (apparently not within two weeks - 
either side - of the oil?). But if I want to do all of these as late as 
possible, is that going to work?

I'd appreciate some advice. Last year, I pruned on March 7 and sprayed 
with dormant oil on March 8. That was too early, I believe. But then, we 
had a *very* warm March last year. Either way, I want to delay my plants 
from breaking dormancy - and blooming - as much as I can. At the very 
least, I don't want to do anything to speed it up.

Thanks much,

Lincoln, NE (zone 5)

I'm learning real skills that I can apply throughout the rest of my life 
- procrastinating and rationalizing. - Bill Watterson's "Calvin and Hobbes"

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