Q. My husband would like to start pruning our roses. The buds appear to be swelling and starting to grow. Is it too early to prune roses?
A. Yes. The Tri-City Rose Society experts recommend not pruning your roses until forsythia (the yellow flowering shrub that flowers in early spring) blooms. If you prune earlier, you may encourage even more rapid bud growth. This young growth can be damaged by the cold and frosty nights we are still experiencing. It may be hard to resist pruning, but it's better to wait a bit yet.
Q. How serious is the drought in California, and where can I get more information about how it will affect forage production?
A. In a recent news release, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation states: "The California Department of Water Resources reports that snowpack and precipitation in the Sierra Nevada are historically low and the snow-water content statewide stands at 29 percent of average for this time of year." Some of the best resources on the drought include the drought monitor, http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu, which shows that most of California is in an exceptional to extreme drought.
A recent news release from the Mid Pacific Region shows just how bad things are. The plan is at www.usbr.gov/mp/PA/water/. This site shows that at this time, unless agriculture producers have senior water rights, they likely will get no allocation of water for their crops this year. Even if they have senior water rights, they may get only 40 percent to 75 percent of their total allocation.
It appears this drought is as serious as it has ever been, and some crops like alfalfa will be in short supply for dairies and for export. The surrounding states are in a drought also and unable to fill this huge gap.
Q. What is a floating row cover?
A. Floating row covers are used to cover plants to create a physical barrier against pest insects. They are made of spun-bonded polypropylene or polyester and are permeable to light, water and air. In addition, row covers can be used to extend the growing season by conserving heat.
-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.