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WSU extension Q&A: May 8, 2010

Q. What is causing my blueberries to have red leaves?

A. The most likely cause is your soil pH is too high. Test your soil and add elemental sulfur to lower the pH. Also make sure you fertilize with ammonium based products such as ammonium nitrate, urea, ammonium phosphate and ammonium sulfate to maintain a lower soil pH.

Q. How can I help out at the Benton-Franklin Fair this year?

A. The Benton Franklin Fair and Rodeo has volunteer positions available. You should contact Sara at the fair office at 509-586-9211, ext. 204 to see if they have a volunteer position that will be a fit for you.

Q. With all the wind we’ve been having lately, a friend advised me to stake the tree I just planted. The tree seems OK now; do I really need to do this?

A. Usually, trees less than 6 feet tall or less than an inch in diameter don’t need support staking. Staking may be needed with larger trees, especially when the top of the tree is out of proportion to the root ball or when the tree is planted in a windy site or on sandy soil.

Staking may also be needed when you buy a tree with a weak trunk that can’t stand upright without support. However, it’s best to avoid purchasing trees with these weak trunks. Staking may also be needed in public areas to protect against physical injury or vandalism.

It’s better to leave a tree unstaked unless it needs staking for one of these reasons.

The movement of the tree trunk in the wind stimulates plant hormones that in turn stimulate root and trunk growth. Staked trees, especially those improperly staked, tend to develop smaller root systems and thinner trunks, as well as growing taller than trees that aren’t staked.

When a tree is staked in a manner that prevents any movement of the trunk, the tree doesn’t establish or grow as strong as an unstaked tree.

* Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 509-735-3551 or Pasco at 509-545-3511.

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