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Schmidt: 4-H awards night Sunday

By Staff | Oct 31, 2014

The Annual 4-H Awards Night Banquet is Sunday, Nov. 2, at the First Lutheran Church in Rugby at 5 p.m.

This is an evening where the Pierce County 4-H program recognizes our friends, volunteers and members for outstanding contributions and achievements. Fall is a great time to hold this event, as one 4-H year concludes and another begins.

As has been tradition, each year the 4-H leader’s council selects a theme for the awards night celebration. Returning to its roots, the theme of this year’s celebration will be Halloween, which includes a costume contest and a cake/baked goods decorating contest. All 4-H youth are invited to participate in both contests. The cakes/baked goods will then be donated to the youth cakewalk following judging. Prizes will be awarded to the top costumes and cakes/baked goods in each of three age divisions.

While new 4-H members can join at any time, in Pierce County they must join by the Nov. 15 deadline to be eligible to compete in Pierce County 4-H Achievement Days as 4-H is a program in which members work on projects throughout the year and exhibit their best work in project areas during Achievement Days held in conjunction with the Pierce County Fair.

Sunscreen for Trees

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to wrap trees for winter. I always thought we wrapped trees in autumn to protect them from the cold of winter. As it turns out we don’t wrap trees to keep them warm. We wrap trees to keep them cool. This sounds crazy, but it’s true.

More specifically, we wrap trees to protect the trunk from getting scalded by the sun. Getting burned in winter? It seems like a strange time to get a sunburn.

A tree trunk receives no shade in winter. Its branches are barren and its trunk is fully exposed. On a bright day, the sun can cast its rays upon the trunk and heat it up. The cells beneath the bark start to get active. Just as quickly as the bark became warm, the sun can go away and the bitter cold winter returns. The bark cools and contracts faster than the wood beneath it. Pressure builds until the bark explodes open.

Take a look at mountain ash or apple trees in town. On the southwest side you often see a vertical crack on the trunk. This is a frost crack or related sunscald damage. Other sun-sensitive trees include maple, linden, mountain ash, honeylocust, crabapple, cherry and plum.

Wrap trees for at least their first two winters, until their bark develops texture. The sensitive trees mentioned above will benefit from protection for their first five winters. Wrap your trees using Kraft paper, starting at the base and winding the paper up to the first major branch. Or, place white plastic tree guards around the trunks. This protection will reflect the rays of the sun off the trunk, keeping it cool. Unwrap the tree after the last frost in spring to let the trunk expand and prevent insect infestation.

Winter is coming and we need to keep our trees cool. Wrap them.

Preparing Trees for Winter

Each spring I receive a number of calls in which the trees in question may have benefited from simple fall tree care and winterization. In order to maximize the chance that your trees will make it through the winter in good health and be ready for a productive growing season utilize the following checklist from Aaron Bergdahl, forest health specialist with the NDSU/North Dakota Forest Service:

Water trees weekly in late fall until freeze-up. Two gallons per inch of stem diameter is recommended, if the soil is dry at a depth of six inches. This will help prevent winter injury and dieback.

Rake up and remove/destroy fallen leaves. This is the best thing you can do to reduce the amount of fungal leaf disease next year because many fungal leaf diseases overwinter on leaf litter.

Prune dead wood to decrease overwintering sites for tree diseases and insect pests.

Wait until the tree is dormant (at least November) to prune living branches, always using proper technique.

Wrap the lower main stem of trees that have not developed thick bark to protect them from sunscald and rodent feeding damage.

Wrap burlap around smaller, high-value (landscape) conifers or set up a burlap sun/wind shield to help minimize the chances of winter burn.

Throughout winter, use caution when applying de-icing products near trees and shrubs. Salts and other chemicals contained in some products may cause harm.

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