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Frequently Asked Questions

Agricultural Supply

Looking for Straw Bales

I'm looking for straw bales for a foaling stall, but am unable to locate any. Is there a good alternative?

While we carry shaving, compressed wood pellets coastal and alfalfa hay, we do not carry straw bales. By straw, you are probably referring to wheat straw. This area does not grow a lot of wheat for harvest (although we do plant some for grazing), so it is difficult to find plain wheat straw bales. Wood shavings and coastal hay are excellent alternatives, and we do keep those in stock. We are also now carrying Stall Dry, to help keep the stall drier and absorb ammonia odor. Come see us at Producers!

Trapping & Baiting Gophers

What can be done about the gophers that leave little mounds of dirt all over my yard?

Well, you can try cussing, filing official letters of protest to government agencies, and Gregorian chants by a full moon. However, I haven't found any of those methods to be very effective. I suggest you try trapping or baiting the little varmints. How about a few gopher facts for our listeners first?

Make sure you aren't confusing gophers with moles. I doubt that you are since you mentioned the mounds, something that is characteristic of gophers and not moles. Moles are insectivores, while gophers are vegetarians. Gophers are mostly solitary except during mating and caring for their young. It is not uncommon for a single gopher to have a tunnel system that covers a whole acre and may be 700-800 feet in length. It is estimated that a single gopher can actually move from two to two-and-a-half tons of dirt to the surface in a single year! From this, we get the wise old adage, Busy as a gopher in soft dirt! The tunnels may be a few inches underground or several feet. The mounds that you are seeing in your yard are lateral tunnels off a main tunnel. They do that in order to expel dirt from their tunnel building efforts. After pushing out the dirt and making the mound, they plug the lateral.

There are several strategies for control in the lawn. Most folks use traps, smoke bombs, or baits (we keep them all in stock). If you resort to the traps, you will need to find the main tunnel with a probe. Excavate down to the tunnel and set a couple of anchored gopher traps in each tunnel you find. Make sure the jaws point toward the main runway. Baits are usually grain treated with strychnine, or pellets of zinc phosphide. Place the bait inside the main tunnel after probing and finding it. Be sure to close up the opening you make. Finally, smoke bombs placed in the tunnel can suffocate them. If you use smoke bombs; however, be very sure to keep them away from junior high boys (just good advice). Come see us at Producers!

Improving Egg Production

Why have my chickens slowed down laying eggs? We used to get up to six eggs a day and now we get three eggs a day from eight chickens. I have repeatedly checked for chicken snakes and other egg snatchers with no luck. Our coop is very sealed at night.

Thanks for your question! Sounds like the old girls are conducting a work slowdown! Have you checked for the presence of union organizers around the hen house? Seriously, it could be a lot of different factors that might contribute to a reduction in egg production. Here are a few things that you might examine:

Layers typically lay productively from about five months of age until they are 14 16 months. Your birds may simply be getting old. You didn't indicate what kind of feed you are giving them. Layers should receive at least a 16% protein ration. Our Compu-Lay is a 17% protein feed designed to meet the energy, protein and mineral needs of laying hens. Be sure to keep it out free choice. Keep out crushed oyster shell free choice. The egg shell is made of calcium, so your birds need an adequate supply to keep the assembly line going. It is also very common for shorter day length to reduce egg production. Try putting a light on a timer in the hen house to give them a longer photoperiod. Finally, chicken snakes might be sneaking eggs away. Come in and get some ceramic eggs to plant in the nests. That will eliminate the chicken thief snakes. Check your birds for mites and/or lice. External parasites might be reducing their productivity. They may be getting ready to molt. Fall is a common time for layers to go through a molt and it has an impact on egg production.

Eliminating Bee Hives

I have bees in my yard actively making a nest. I have no idea if they are Africanized or not. I don't want to hurt them if they are European, but don't want my kids to get stung if they are African. What should I do?

My advice for you is to not be sentimental in this situation. Go ahead and kill the hive. Brazos County has been identified as one of the areas in which Africanized bees are occurring. Honey bee queens are promiscuous little hussies. They mate with multiple males. I visited with Dr. Tonya Pankiw at the Honey Bee Testing Lab at Texas A&M. She tells me that there is a strong probability that a wild hive in our area will be contaminated with queens that have mated with Africanized males. When sperm contributed by Africanized males reaches a level of 25%, the character of the hive changes. They become more aggressive, the behavior that is associated with African Honey Bees.

One important thing to note about the African bees is that their sting is not stronger, different, or more dangerous; they just have a nasty tendency to be more aggressive. As such, they are more likely to attack in greater numbers. Dr. Pankiw suggested that you eliminate the hive (you may wish to have a professional pest control operator do this for you). After eliminating the hive, you should then bee proof your property. Bees are more likely to choose your place for decolonization after the first group leaves scent behind. Plug up holes in your house, in old trees, or any other cavities that bees might find attractive to start a hive. We have wasp and hornet spray in stock if you like. Again, consider having a pro do this job.

Feeding Koi

My Koi have stopped eating as much as they used to. I've heard that they don't eat during cold weather. Am I doing the right thing by not feeding them?

Thanks for your question! You are not trying to feed them broccoli are you? We used to make our kids sit at the table till they ate all their green beans, or the green beans got mold growing on them, whichever came first.

Seriously, yes water temperature does have a dramatic impact on consumption of feed by koi. Several other factors can also influence consumption rates water quality, genetic background, stocking density, and stage of fish maturity. However, the most important factor is water temperature. Koi, like all fish are ectothermic. Thats a four dollar word that means their body temperature fluctuates in accordance with the temperature of their aquatic environment. As the temperature of the water drops, so does their body temperature. As their body temperature drops, their ability of their digestive system to assimilate and utilize food is diminished. As such, consumption and growth rate drops.

I would not recommend that you quit feeding your koi, just reduce the amount you put out for them during the cool season. Provide them only as much feed as what they will consume in five minutes. Small, rapidly growing koi will typically consume about five percent of their body weight. Large, mature koi will typically consume about two percent of their body weight. Consider feeding products with more energy (cereals) in the winter. High protein diets move through the gut more slowly and with a slower growth rate in the winter, it can cause digestive difficulties. We have fish feed here, as well as pond care products. Come see us at Producers!

Controlling Fleas

How to I control fleas and what spray do you have to help me?

Fleas are like sandburs and mosquitoes. They kind of make you wonder what God was thinking! Fleas are one of the more difficult creatures to totally control because of their ability to reproduce and adapt. Even if we get them totally under control in our lawns and on our pets, the next squirrel taking a stroll through your backyard can leave you with a brand new crop. While there is no fool-proof solution, I do have some suggestions.

First, flea control needs to be viewed holistically. That is, get them off your pets, out of the yard, and out of the house (if you have indoor pets), all at the same time. If you don't get rid of them in the entire environment, they will merely cross-contaminate and be back in business. Secondly, we have to get rid of not only the adult fleas, but the eggs as well. Fleas go through a complete life cycle, from adult, to egg, to larvae, to pupae, and back to adult again. In a typical summer flea population, only about 5% will be adults, while 50% are eggs, 35% are larvae, and 10% are pupae. They can complete their life cycle in as little as a couple of weeks, or take up to eight months. After she has a blood meal, the adult female can lay 15 20 eggs per day and up to 600 in a lifetime. As you can see, you can be up to your back pockets in fleas pretty quickly.

Here is the way I like to do it. Get them off your pets and begin using a monthly flea control product. We stock Bio-Spot here for that purpose. It comes in sizes for the various weights of dogs. We also have a product for cats that is also a spot-on. At the same time you get the fleas off your dog, treat your yard (and house if they have gotten inside). I prefer pyrethroid-based insecticides for this. It is very important that you also put out an IGR (insect growth regulator) class product to stop the eggs from hatching. Without it, even if you get the adult fleas, the eggs will hatch and you will have to repeat spray (usually several times) until you break the egg cycle. We keep the insecticide and IGR in stock all the time. Come see us!

Feed & Nutrition

Weaning Calves

I'm going to be weaning calves in about one month. I'm soliciting your recommendations as to steps I should take regarding nutrition and vaccinations prior to and subsequent to weaning. The calves are weighing about 500 pounds.

You have several options as far as feed is concerned. First off, I have found it beneficial to creep feed about 2 weeks prior to weaning. In my opinion, this eases the transition from milk to feed and may make this period less stressful. A good product is Producers Creep Pellet. Once you wean these calves, you can continue using this product. However, it will need to be hand-fed rather than free-choice. You can feed up to 1% of body weight along with good quality hay or pasture.

If you anticipate health problems or have experienced them in the past, it may be a good idea to use our Stocker Starter which is medicated with oxytetracycline. In the event you require a free-choice feed, our Cattle Pellet 1.5 (contains intake limiters) or our Beefmaker (no limiters-pellet available bulk only) work very well. Also, it is a good idea to keep a mineral available. Our Special Pasture Mineral or Grass Gainer C-2800 (2800 g/ton chlortetracycline) would be my two recommendations.

Proper vaccination will require several products.

8-way clostridial preferably with Somnus. Vision 8 HS is a good product. You will give 2cc and 2-4 weeks later give another 2cc. Respiratory vaccine containing PI3, BRSV, IBR and BVD. Most require a 2cc injection with a 2cc booster given 2-4 weeks later. Cattlemaster and Prism are two respiratory products. You can get killed, killed and modified live or modified live. As far as immunity is concerned these can be considered good, better, best respectively. The modified live products must be mixed and used promptly. Also, it is not advisable to use these products in cows. The killed vaccines may be kept refrigerated as long as it is not contaminated by a dirty needle. Pasteurella is another suggested vaccine. The vaccines for Pasteurella contain Pasteurella hemolytica. Another option is a product called Titanium 5 +PHM Bacl. This contains all your respiratory vaccines (BVD, BRSV, PI3 and IBR) as well as Pasteurella hemolytica and multocida.

Feeding Replacement Heifers

I have a few heifers that I'd like to feed out for the next couple of months to get some better size on them. The problem is that I'm not there everyday to ensure they get what they need. I was wondering if you could suggest a type of creep feed that might help.

Our 20% Pasture Cubes should be the best way to go. It contains 20% protein with a high energy content that is limited with 20% salt. It also contains a high level of minerals and vitamins. They should consume 3-5 pounds per head per day depending on body size. In the case that forage is going to be limited, then our Cattle Pellet 1.5 may be a better choice. They will still need some forage. They should consume approximately 1 1/2 % of bodyweight. This pellet is medicated with Monensin.

Controlling Flies with IGR

How do I control the fly population?

Spring comes warmer weather, green grass and horn flies.

Horn flies will begin to emerge when the average daily temperature reaches 65 F for two weeks. According to USDA, two adult horn flies can produce over 3.3 million adult horn flies over an eight week period. Each horn fly will bite a cow and suck blood about 20 times per day. Untreated, there can easily be 1,000 to 4,000 flies per cow. That could mean 80,000 bites per cow per day.

USDA estimates the horn fly costs the cattle industry $730 million. Horn flies will decrease grazing time resulting in 20% less milk produced and decrease weaning weights by 13 to 14 pounds. Average daily gain of growing cattle may be 0.25 to 0.5 pounds lower when horn flies are not controlled.

To obtain maximum control, it is best to start a program prior to emergence. So the best time to start is now.

There are several control methods including ear tags, sprays, pour-ons and dusts that are somewhat effective depending on the level of resistance. Another tool that is available to us is IGR.

IGR is an insect growth regulator that passes through the animal and into the manure where horn flies lay their eggs. It breaks the life cycle by preventing horn fly pupae from developing into adult flies.

Producers manufactures two mineral products containing IGR. Grass Gainer C2800 + IGR is designed for growing cattle and Stress Aid + IGR is for mature cattle.

Give us a call or stop by for assistance in developing a fly control program that will work for you.

Feeding Producers Show Goat

My daughter is showing a goat and we feed him Producers Show Goat. Since it is medicated, do I need to change the feed before the show? Will this feed be good to finish the goat before the show?

You can keep the goat on Producers Show Goat all the way to show. This feed is medicated with Rumensin which carries no withdrawal and they should finish very well on this feed.

Supplementing Deer

I would like to buy cotton seed meal to mix with rice bran and corn for deer. Do you have any information on this?

Deer will benefit greatly from added protein when they are in velvet and nursing fawns or also during the fall and winter when their normal diet is relatively low in protein. Adding protein during this time will improve roughage digestibility just like in cattle. The usual recommendation is a supplement containing 20-25% crude protein.

Go lightly on the rice bran. This is a fat source and too much fat can have a negative effect on diet digestibility and may act as a laxative as well. Too much corn will negatively impact forage digestibility so don't go over 40-45% corn in the supplement.

All the ingredients you mentioned are high in phosphorus and relatively low in calcium. I recommend adding a cattle mineral to your mix. This mineral should contain high calcium and moderate phosphorus with a good level of trace minerals. Our Special Pasture Mineral would work fine.

Another option is to use a well formulated, commercially available deer supplement. We stock a 20% protein Deer Pellet which is formulated with the correct balance of minerals, protein and energy. If your deer population is not accustomed to a pellet, then whole shell corn can be added as an attractant. Once they are consuming the pellet, the corn can be removed.

Lawn & Garden

Battling Brown Patch

I have St. Augustine grass in my yard and it is turning brown in several places. What is causing this, and how do I treat it? I would like to plant some flowers for fall and winter. Are there any that will live through the season?

You probably are seeing Brown Patch attacking your yard. It is very common this time of year. It is a fungal pathogen that loves cool nights and warm days, so we frequently see it in the fall. Come see us and we can fix you up with some Fung-Away or Terraclor fungicide to fight back with. Some helpful hints to help manage this pest culturally are to avoid excess nitrogen fertilizer in the fall and avoid over watering your lawn. Try to water early in the morning as opposed to late evening. Late evening irrigation lets your turf stay wet (dewy) all night and tends to promote fungal growth.

Flowering plants that tend to be pretty cold hardy are asters, chrysanthemums, clematis, snapdragons, pansies, dianthus, flowering kale, flowering cabbage, stock, petunias (may freeze in a hard freeze but will come back bigger and better in the spring), and alyssum.

For containers, a beautiful plant that loves the cool weather (40-60 degrees) is clamen. It is really showy and comes in a number of colors that bloom for long periods of time. I always get some about this time of year and put it in the sunroom porch. It will bloom all the way into April. Come by our Garden Center and visit with some of our knowledgeable folks here and let them show you some of these cool-weather wonders. They will make a grouchy uncle smile on a winter day!

Top Dressing St. Augustine

When is the proper time to put top soil on St. Augustine grass?

The best time to top dress your St. Augustine grass with topsoil is in late April or May. You need the St. Augustine to be very actively growing. Please remember that topdressing is to simply level and smooth your turf so only small amounts need to be used. Normally, two inches is the maximum amount that you would want to apply at any one time.

Two inches will normally allow the grass to still push through and continue its growth without harming the turf. Renovation of areas is completely different from simple topdressing. If you have areas that due to circumstances have been damaged and need to be re-established, then you would want to apply your top soil, and then either sprig or sod that area. To save you some time, fertilization can be done at the same time you top dress with your topsoil. I would recommend our Brazos Best 21-7-14 for your lawn. It is an excellent product that is formulated for our area.

Getting Rid of Pasture Grass

How do I get rid of the pasture weeds without poisoning the soil so I can plant grass?

The most effective product for you to use is Glyphosate. You probably know it as Roundup. This is a very good grass killer that is effective on all types of grass and also on most broadleaf weeds. The good thing about the product is that it has NO soil activity. It is taken in by the leaves of the plant, and therefore is excellent to use in establishing turf.

If you are planning on laying sod, I would wait until late March or April to spray the weeds and native grass on your lawn area. Let it completely kill the weeds and grass present. In some instances for extremely tough weeds or grass, it may take two applications. When there is no sign of green in the area, then prepare the area and lay your sod. The same will apply if you are going to plug the area. We at Producers Garden Center can get you the product you need. We can also get you the sod if you need it.

Spreading St. Augustine

Why is my St. Augustine grass growing roots/tubers above the rest of the grass?

St. Augustine grass is a very prolific grass that spreads by stolons moving above ground. Each node on the stolon, when in contact with the ground will form a root system, thus allowing the grass to spread. In many instances, St. Augustine stolons are seen above other grasses because they are simply much larger and more visible than say Bermuda or Zoysia stolons. St. Augustine grass also does extremely well in shaded areas. Many times you will see St. Augustine grass moving into another grass because the other grass is not doing very well in the shade. Mixed grass lawns will have fierce competition between the species of grasses with each doing its best in conditions that are most conducive to its growth.

Pruning & Feeding Roses

We have some really old rose bushes and would like to know how far to trim them down and when to trim them. What is the best kind of rose feed to feed them and when should we feed them?

Pruning roses is very important to get more blooms and a more shapely plant. Roses produce blooms on new growth, so doing a good job of pruning will lead to a better looking and more colorful and productive plant. Timing is critical. Most of the bush type roses, including Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, and many others prefer to be pruned in late winter.

When you prune, you can shape the plant to conform to what growth pattern you would like it to take and still get a maximum amount of new growth in the spring. Prune them back by about 50%. Climbing roses, on the other hand, are generally pruned in the late spring, after their main flush of spring blooms. Some varieties that we now have never really quit blooming until frost. They should be pruned lightly in late winter.

Regardless of variety or type, start by pruning out all the dead, diseased, and unproductive canes first. Then, cut back the remaining canes by half. Cut just above buds that face away from the center of the plants. Use some sharp pruning shears and it's a good idea to cut at a slight angle. This way, the cut will not hold water and contribute to disease growth. Some folks like to paint a little clear shellac or white glue (not black pruning sealant) on the end.

Prune climbers back to 4 to 5 feet after their peak spring bloom. Remove any weak canes. If you tie the canes into a horizontal positions versus vertical positions, you will get more blooms as a result. Lightly prune following each round of blooming and remove the spent blooms on Hybrid Teas (back to the second set of five part leaves). This should give you more growth in late season.

Feed your roses with a 1-2-1 fertilizer beginning in early spring, about the time the first leaf buds start to break. Stop feeding about Labor Day. The granular products will last somewhat longer, the liquid plant foods will give you a faster response, but don't last as long in the soil. We keep several sources of fertilizer suitable in stock. We also stock numerous rose types to compliment your plantings.

Pruning Bridal Wreath & Crepe Myrtles

When should I prune bridal wreath and crepe myrtles?

The best time to prune bridal wreath is after they bloom. Prune dead, diseased and unproductive canes. Prune back those canes that bloomed all the way to the ground. Fertilize them with a high phosphorus fertilizer like a 1-2-1 ratio blend. Iron deficiency can be a problem with bridal wreaths in highly alkaline soils. I suggest you supplement with some iron (we keep it in the Garden Center). You may also consider some sulphur to correct the pH if you think that your soil has become too alkaline.

Regarding crepe myrtles, they really don't have to be pruned, but some can be helpful. Now is a good time to prune out weak or damaged limbs. It is good to prune off the spent seed heads. Don't top the plant trying to get larger flower heads, since the heads you will get are often too big for the limbs they are on and thus distort the natural shape of the plant. You may wish to take out excess, congested interior limbs and unwanted basal sprouts. A good rule of thumb is to not remove anything bigger than a pencil in diameter (other than those interior limbs just mentioned). Fertilize your crepe myrtles in the early spring with ordinary high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer. We have the fertilizer in stock, as well as a great selection of crepe myrtles.

Watering Potted Plants & Flowerbeds

My watering program has not produced results. Please tell me what to use for my potted plants as well as my flower beds.

If you are on a city water system like Bryan or College Station, you will find that your water has a lot of salts that are tough on your plants. This is especially true if your plants are still in pots (the salts tend to accumulate in the pot). Rainfall will tend to leach a lot of the salts out if the plant is in the ground. Those same salts will tend to burn the leaves of your plants, so when you hand water, it is better to water under the plant rather than onto the foliage.

Short of expensive reverse osmosis and/or acid injection water systems, the best things you can do is lean toward bedded plants over potted plants. Some folks harvest rainwater for irrigation (watch for those mosquito larvae, we have mosquito dunks for that). Your problems may be also soil related. Once you know what you are dealing with, we will be glad to help you with fertilizer recommendations for all your lawn and garden needs.

Transplanting Pampas Grass

Can I transplant Pampas Grass into my yard? What kind of roots will I find? Can they be thinned as they are being transplanted? Is there a better time for transplanting?

You can transplant your Pampas Grass. Get as much of the root ball as you can, keep it moist and transplant it as soon as you can. Slight thinning is in order if it is large. Come see us and pick up some soil conditioner and some root stimulator. The folks in the Garden Center can fix you up with some soil amendments that will help your transplant off to a good start.

Growing Plants Under Cedar Trees

What type of plants grow well under cedar trees?

Cedar trees are very shallow rooted trees that have massive root systems down to about 8ft. They take large amounts of water from this depth and would compete with any plants under them for moisture and nutrients. The massive root system also makes planting very difficult in the drip zone of the tree. I would recommend shallow rooted ground covers such as Asian Jasmine or English Ivy. At the garden center, we have used Carpet Bugle and it has done well.

Another alternative is to add a 2-3 layer of potting soil under the tree and use annual plants. Remember, that with either alternative, you will be contending with the tree for moisture and nutrients, and also with the shade from the tree.

Transplanting Daylilies

When is the best time to transplant Daylilies and is there a good way to separate them?

Daylilies are best transplanted when they are under the least stress. In our area, this is normally in the early spring and during the winter. As for methods of separating them, hands are best. Simply use your hands to break the clumps of bulbs apart.

Fertilizing Potatoes

I recently read that the Big Lump Gardener puts down rock phosphate in the trench when planting potatoes. Do you carry it?

Potatoes need adequate fertilizer very early in the season. Instead of rock phosphate, I would recommend that you use a complete fertilizer when planting. We have a complete fertilizer 17-17-17 which will contain all of the nutrients including phosphorus, which is what rock phosphate provides. It will also give your plants the needed nitrogen and potassium they need for good season growth.

To apply the fertilizer, flatten your beds so they are 6-8 inches high and 10 inches wide. Dig your trench for your seed pieces in the middle of the bed. Then dig two trenches on each side of that initial trench about 2" away from the seed bed for your fertilizer. The two outside trenches should be about 1" deeper than your seed piece trench. Apply 1 lb (approximately 2 cups) of the 17-17-17 in each trench per 30 foot of row. Do not let the fertilizer come in contact with your seed pieces.

We do have Super Phosphate which is 0-18-0 available in a 5 lbs bag if you only want the phosphate. However, you will get more bang for your buck by using the 17-17-17. Again, thanks for your question. If we at Producers can be of assistance, please contact me or one of our horticulturalists on staff.

Moving Cannas

When is the best time to move cannas?

Cannas are best moved when they are dormant with no green showing. This will normally be in January and February in our area. Cannas are very hardy and can even be moved when growing, provided they have adequate irrigation.

Planting Roses

When is the best time to plant roses?

Roses are best planted when they are dormant. Dormant means that are not actively growing and have a lot of leaves. In our area, there are two times when roses could best be planted. The first is in February and March. The second is in November and December. Roses can also be planted at times slightly out of these date ranges depending on the condition of the plant and the temperatures outside.

There are several things that you can do when planting roses that will give you a better opportunity for success. This includes using root stimulator, rose food and potting soils. We have all of these available at Producers Garden Center. Our staff at the Garden Center would be happy to assist you in selecting roses for planting.

The best of luck to you in your gardening. May large, beautiful roses be in your future.

Planting Mimosa Trees

I have started a couple of mimosa trees in pots. When should I plant them in the ground?

If your mimosas are vigorous and doing well in the pots, are about three or four feet tall, and also have a robust, well-established root system, now is a great time to get them in the ground. Trees that are fall planted have a big advantage over spring-planted trees. While the root system grows more slowly throughout the fall and winter, it is still at least growing. It therefore, has a jump-start on other trees that are not planted until the spring.

If your trees do not meet the above criteria, keep them protected this winter in the pots and wait until spring to get them into the ground. Come see us at Producers and we can recommend the soil amendments that will help you get your transplant off to a good start. The appropriate materials applied at planting will make a big difference in the tree's ability to survive and begin healthy growth next spring.

Peach Trees Dropping Fruit

We have two peach trees we planted last year. They got fruit on them about 2" in size then they just fell off in the wind. Can you offer any suggestions?

Newly planted fruit trees will bear little fruit during the first season. Trees are trying to expend all of their energy on actively growing and putting on the structure that they will need to become healthy mature trees. The first year fruit drop is not unusual. The tree simply said "I am supposed to be growing and not fruiting so I'll get rid of this fruit to allow me to use my nutrients and water to grow more leaves and limbs." I know this is very simplified, but in essence this is the process.

I would suggest that you prune your peach tree. Try to keep three or four main limbs. Try to get them as evenly spaced around the main trunk as possible. As this spring comes on, the tree will concentrate its growth on those limbs and make for a much stronger tree. This pruning needs to be done before bud break on your trees.

You need to fertilize your trees in March with a complete fertilizer. We have Brazos Best 21-7-14 + micronutrients that will be good for the March application. You will need 2-3 cups per tree. You will need additional applications in the same amount in April, May, June and July. For these later applications, I would recommend the Brazos Best 21-7-14 + Micronutrients or Brazos Best 22-0-0-13 sulfur. As your trees mature, you will need to apply fertilizer in February using 2 cups per inch diameter of tree and in May apply 2 to 6 cups of the 22-0-0-13 sulfur depending on vigor of shoot growth. If your trees appear to be very healthy in August, then no fertilizer will need to be applied. If the trees are yellowing or appear unthrifty, then apply 3 cups of the 22-0-0-13 at that time.

Irrigation is also critical during the summer months when your fruit trees are setting fruit. Water every two to three weeks with a heavy soaking. Please avoid frequent light waterings. The deeper, heavier watering will allow for deeper root growth.

Fruit trees will always set more fruit than they can develop and sustain. Removing the excess fruit will allow the remaining fruit to be larger and prevent limb breakage. With a small tree, you can hand thin the fruit about 4 weeks after bloom. Space your fruit about one every 6 inches on a branch.

Selecting Fruit Trees

What kind of fruit trees do you have available? I am interested in a cross between a peach and apricot. Also do you carry landscape fabric in 10' width?

We have a variety of fruit trees in stock and should be getting more in January The fruit that you mentioned is a nectarine. It is a cross between a peach and a plum. We have several varieties in stock that are well adapted to our area.

We do have landscape fabric. If you would let me know what the intended use will be, I can give you a better idea of the type we have that will fit your need.

Fruit Trees In-Stock Seasonally... Be sure to call Producers Garden Center to check availability.

Mulching Rose Bushes

What is the best mulch for rose bushes in our area?

Many mulches will work for roses including pine bark, shredded hardwood and cypress. My favorite is shredded pine bark. This material tends to mat together and stay in place better, thus avoiding washing from beds when irrigating or during rainfall events. All mulches begin breaking down immediately as the microorganisms in the soil begin to work. Pine bark tends to have a lower ph and as it breaks down, it tends to use less nutrients, especially nitrogen in its decomposition thus reducing the need for additional fertilizer for the roses. It also tends to lower the soil ph which is conducive for rose production.

Understanding Soil Types

In what soil does a plant grow best? What about compost?

Soils are classified into the general categories of sand, silt or clay. Compost is either all organic matter, or a combination of organic matter and soil that has broken down and is ready to release its nutrients. Compost is a soil amendment. Soils are mineral in origin, and may or may not contain various levels of organic matter. Organic matter is of plant or animal origin.

Sand, silt and clays are not inherently superior or inferior to one another. There will be wide variability of fertility within each class of soil. Clays typically contain more nutrients per given volume, but sands release their nutrients to the plant more easily. Amending either one with nutrient-rich compost will enhance the performance regardless of type.

Controlling Pests

How can I control rodents, spiders and scorpions?

For spiders, scorpions, and insect pests, use Suspend SC. Suspend is a concentrate that will make gallons of spray mix. It is labeled for indoor and outdoor use, as well as food preparation areas. We carry a number of rat and mouse control products, as well as products for controlling gophers, moles, and assorted other "wildlife".

Controlling Grasshoppers

How can I control Grasshoppers?

We can help you control grasshopper damage. Below are insecticides rated and listed in order according to the Texas Cooperative Extension Bulletin Grasshopper Control Tips for Texas Landscapes. Please drop in and let us know about your situation so can help you get rid of the grasshoppers!

Bifenthrin

Bifen Lawn & Perimeter Granular Insecticide Bifen I/T Cyfluthrin

Tempo SC Ultra Concentrate Bayer Advanced Power Force RTU Bayer Advanced Power Force Granules Permethrin

Hi-Yield Kill-A-Bug Granules Delta Eight Granules Martins Permethrin 10% Martins Viper IC Sniper Concentrate Viper RTU Suspend Concentrate Martins Cypermethrin Hi-Yield Garden, Pet & Livestock Spray Carbaryl

Sevin Malathion Baits & Biological Control

Nolo Bait

Moldy Core Apples

I recently bought a bag of apples at the grocery store. They have "moldy core". What should I do with them? Are they safe?

Most apples sold in retail stores are harvested well before ripening. Apples like many fruits will continue to ripen after it is removed from the tree. The problem we have with such fruits is that they may have come from around the world. Much of the produce you purchase in the winter months is brought from other countries and thus the extended time it must set after harvest.

My advice to your is to NEVER eat anything that appears diseased or in your case, moldy. I would suggest that you contact Texas Cooperative Extension and visit with a Family and Consumer Science Extension Agent about any question you might have with food products. They are better equipped to answer questions concerning food safety.

Petroleum

Storing Fuel

Are there any regulations for storing fuel or other products on the farm or ranch?

Depending on available storage capacity, you may be subject to Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) regulations. Please check out our Petroleum Services page for more info.

Storing Ethanol

How do I store ethanol?

On April 17, 2010 Producers Cooperative began retailing E-10 ethanol blended gasoline (90% gasoline and 10% ethanol) at the fuel pumps as well as delivery, since conventional gasoline is no longer available. The Producers Cooperative Fuel Center has been prepared for this change with recently cleaned tanks and the appropriate filters on the fuel dispensers to prevent water and contaminants from entering your vehicles and equipment. This fuel is readily compatible with most modern automobiles and with a little preparation and modification it can be stored in existing tanks.