Pruning and pests raise questions

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 2, 2012

SALISBURY — Winter weather arrived in earnest earlier this week. Summer-like weather followed by cooler, windy weather always presents a challenge for those with gardening and other outdoor chores. Pruning is always an issue with changes in the weather, fall or spring. Many have called with questions about pruning, pests and plant identification. Below are just a few of them.
Q: My husband wants to prune our grape vines now. The vines grew to the ground this summer and he wanted to go ahead and get them pruned. Is it too early to prune grape vines?
A: Grapes, both muscadine and bunch grapes are normally pruned in February. Any pruning practice stimulates plant growth. Winter damage is possible if there is unusually warm weather in the winter. However, light pruning to use for holiday decorations is permissible. Go to a previous article online at for more detailed information.
Q: There is something cutting off limbs on my oak tree with “beaver-like” gnawing on the fallen limbs. There are limbs all over my lawn. What is causing this and is there any reason for concern?
A: Squirrels will often cut off limbs; however, in your situation, twig girdlers are causing the damaged tree limbs. The girdler is a beetle that lays eggs in late summer and fall on the tips of tree branches and then cuts the ends, allowing them to fall to the ground. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the girdler is the cut is almost perfect, neatly completed around the circumference of the limb. Go to for more complete information.
Q: Can you help identify this tree? (Picture sent via email) I’ve never seen this type of pod/fringe or whatever this is. A friend of mine in Winston-Salem sent me this picture.
A: Sourwood is a large, yet slow-growing native tree with brilliant fall color. It has panicles of blooms bees use to make exquisite sourwood honey. Early settlers used the wood for tool handles and it was considered bad luck to burn sourwood. Go to this internet site: for more detailed information.
Q: Doesn’t the 4-H Clubs in Rowan County sell blueberry plants in the fall? If so, is there still time to place an order?
A: Yes, the last day to order blueberry and other small fruits such as muscadine, fig and blackberry plants is Nov. 7. Go to the website for more detailed information and prices or call Cooperative Extension at 704-216-8970.

Darrell Blackwelder is the County Extension Director with Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.
Call 704-216-8970.