It’s watering time again — Summer weather has returned, hot and dry. At least we haven’t had to deal with it all summer. Here’s some advice from Ward Upham of K-State for watering fruit plants – which can apply to other plants too – and for newly planted trees and shrubs.
• Check soil moisture at the roots. Insert a spade or shovel or a pointed wood or metal probe – a long screwdriver works well. Try to shove the probe into the soil about 8 to 12 inches. If that’s hard to do because of dry soil, it’s time to water. Irrigate using sprinklers, soaker hose, drip irrigation or a small trickle of water running from the hose for a few hours. Be sure water doesn’t run off. Water enough so that you can easily get the probe down into the root area. As long as the weather is hot and dry, check soil moisture at least once a week.
Strawberries have a shallow root system and may need to be watered more often – maybe twice a week when temperatures are high. Newly planted fruit trees on sandy soils may also need water twice a week.
• Newly planted trees have not established the extensive root system needed to absorb enough water during hot, dry, windy weather, Upham says. “Even trees two or three years old should receive special care.
“Deep, infrequent watering and mulching can help trees become established. Newly transplanted trees need at least 10 gallons of water per week, and on sandy soils they will need that much applied twice a week. The secret is getting that water to soak deeply into the soil, so it evaporates more slowly and is available to the tree’s roots longer. One way to do this is to punch a small hole in the side of a 5-gallon bucket and fill it with water. Let the water dribble out slowly next to the tree. Refill the bucket once, and you have applied 10 gallons. Very large transplanted trees and trees that were transplanted two to three years ago will require more water.
“A perforated soaker hose is a great way to water a newly established bed or foundation planting. In sun-baked soil, you may need to rough up the surface with a hoe or tiller to get water to infiltrate easily. It may be helpful to set the kitchen oven timer, so you remember to move the hose or shut off the faucet. If you are seeing surface runoff, reduce the flow, or build a berm with at least a 4-foot diameter around the base of the tree to allow the water to percolate down through the soil, instead of spreading out.
“Regardless of method used, soil should be wet at least 12 inches deep.”
“Chemical control of blister beetles is also possible,” Upham writes in the Horticulture 2014 newsletter. Cyfluthrin or gamma- or lambda-cyhalothrin can be used. Cyfluthrin has no waiting period, while lambda-cyhalothrin has a five-day waiting period on tomatoes, he says.