Q. What is the best way to ripen a pear?
A. Placing pears in a paper bag will help them ripen faster. The best way to check for ripeness is to check the neck. Gently press near the stem with your thumb and when it gives to gentle pressure, it is ripe.
Q. During the summer, the tops of my tomatoes and peppers appeared dry, bleached and sunken. What was wrong with them?
A. It is likely the result of sunscald or sunburn. This is a nonpathogenic disease, which occurs when fruits are exposed to too much sun, particularly when the leaves were defoliated by insect pests or diseases. Combat sunscald by choosing varieties that are resistant, and by keeping plants free of disease or insect pests. Also, consider planting multiple rows, and orient them rows north and south to avoid southern exposure to fruit.
Q. How do I become a 4-H volunteer leader?
A. Call the 4-H office in Pasco at 509-545-351. Adults need to attend the required 4-H orientation night and complete the application and screening process. Volunteer adult leaders can start a brand new club anytime in October through April.
Q. When is the best time of the year to fertilize alfalfa and established timothy crops with phosphorus and potassium?
A. The optimum time to fertilize alfalfa and timothy hay crops is in the fall after your last harvest of hay. The first reason why it is important to fertilize timothy in the fall is that this is when it is developing new corms, which will increase yield. Timothy is unique among grasses in that during the autumn, it develops a corm, which is a bulb-like structure, from an elongated internode. Water soluble carbohydrates, mainly fructans (chains of fructose sugars with a terminal glucose sugar), fill the corm until after the flowering stage in the spring. These corms provide the energy to produce more new tillers the next year.
The second reason fall fertilization is important affects all crops. Phosphorus and potassium applied in the soil takes time for it to move down off the surface deeper into the soil which is desirable for maximum nutrient uptake by the roots. The winter provides this time for movement. The bottom line is to start planning now and find the time to get a soil test done to determine what fertilization your hay crops need.
Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.