2023 Western Crop and Pest Management School

          The 2023 Western Crop and Pest Management School hosted by NDSU Extension is set for February 28th and March 1st at the Sleep Inn in Minot, North Dakota.     

          This annual event helps prepare individuals to be successful field scouts and will update agricultural professionals on research and crop production recommendations for major and minor crops grown in North Dakota. It is also a great tool for individual producers who do their own crop scouting.

          Topics include weed identification, control, and herbicide resistance; disease of canola, soybeans, and small grains; root rot management in dry peas and lentils; crop varieties, market updates, and soil fertility.

More information can be found at:  https://www.ndsu.edu/agriculture/ag-hub/events/2023-western-crop-and-pest-management-school


Register online or call the Burke County Extension Office at 701-377-2927 for a brochure. Register early, attendance is limited and this event often fills up.


Beautiful Winter Landscape or Frost Damage Nightmare?

          The heavy fog and frost buildup of the last couple of weeks has offered some beautiful winter wonderland views while looking out the window of a warm house. The views haven’t seemed so wonderful to the line crews trying to restore power, the family trying to keep young children warm and happy eating cold sandwiches by candlelight, or the cattlemen wondering how to water their cattle.

          Some of these problems go away quickly when the power is restored but one aspect that can have long-lasting effects is the damage to trees. We know it takes a long time to grow a tree in North Dakota. NDSU Extension Forester Joe Zeleznik has some comments about tree damage in the Dakota Gardner.


Dakota Gardener: The waiting game

For many trees damaged by winter storms, waiting to assess the damage is the best option.

So far, this winter has been great for hoarfrost photos.

I don’t quite understand the meteorological conditions behind its formation, but it’s been beautiful. Close-up, the ice crystals weave intricate patterns. From a distance, we see trees and forests that are silhouetted in a white cover, standing out against the background.

I see some parallels between the trees themselves and the hoarfrost. Looking at an entire tree, I envision the strength of its wood, supporting a crown that holds a network of branches, twigs, and summertime leaves. But those same twigs and leaves are small and flexible, and more susceptible to breakage than the larger branches.

We’ve already had several snowstorms and blizzards this winter. The one in mid-December was especially bad, starting with a thick layer of ice. After that came the heavy wet snow. Finally, the light fluffy snow came and eventually the storm moved on further east.

Three weeks later, my driveway is still covered in ice. Even the salt that I’ve applied doesn’t seem to be making much of a difference.

How are the trees doing with all of these challenges?

Most trees have weathered this just fine, while others sustained a good deal of damage.

Generally, trees that hold their leaves into the winter have had it the worst. Both the ironwood trees and the ponderosa pines in my own yard are still bent over from the extra weight of that ice and snow. Surprisingly, though, the spruce are still pretty upright.

I’ve been debating what to do here. Should I knock off that snow and ice? Would pruning out the deformed branches be a good approach? Heck – can I even reach the top of that 25-foot-tall pine tree?

Remember, “do nothing” is always a management option. It just has its own set of consequences.

I don’t know if the leader on the pine tree will straighten out next year, even if I remove the snow. The stem could be permanently kinked, which would provide some visual interest, for sure.

What would happen if I cut out that bent-over leader? While a new leader will certainly develop, I worry that multiple leaders will form. Such a situation on a conifer can be a structural nightmare. Quite simply, the connections are weak and more susceptible to breaking in the future.

Apparently, a lot of multi-stemmed arborvitaes and junipers were nailed by that storm as well. They’re bent over and sometimes going in different directions. Is there any hope of salvaging them, structurally?

Recovery might be possible, though it’ll likely take a couple of years.

First, the stems will have to be drawn back together and supported with some type of strap or flexible material such as a bungee cord. Wait until temperatures are a bit warmer – the high 20s or even 30s – and the stems are more flexible.

Second, wait. These trees will need support for 1-2 years as they put on new wood underneath the bark. Those extra tree rings will give the tree more strength and stiffness in the long run.

The support strap should be flexible, providing short-term support without digging into the tree’s stems. Check the straps every three or four months to make sure that they’re not choking off the stems. Loosen the straps as needed.

I wish there was a third step, but at that point, all you can do is wait. And hope that we don’t get another round of super-heavy snow and ice.

Joe Zelznik, NDSU Extension Forester.