Storms may curb pruning

Ski resorts report snow; rain also heading this way
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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With the storm door open again in the foothills, the window of opportunity for backyard tree pruners and garden planters has apparently closed this weekend. The National Weather Service Sacramento office is forecasting showers off and on starting Friday and continuing through the weekend. Meteorologist Felix Garcia said high temperatures should reach the low 50s through Sunday while low temperatures at night will steadily drop to the mid-30s by late Sunday. That’s good for resorts such as Alpine Meadows and Homewood, where spokeswoman Rachel Woods said as much as 6 inches had fallen from a snowstorm that started overnight Wednesday. But for Auburn’s gardeners, who were blessed with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70s last weekend, the rain will have an impact on pruning and other outdoor activities. Elaine Applebaum, a University of California Cooperative Extension master gardener, said Thursday that the return to rainy weather means a change of pace for gardeners – who most likely would be out doing pruning at this time of year. “It’s a time to read seed catalogs, plan for vegetable or flower gardens and dream about spring,” Applebaum said. Pruning in the rain can be done – except on apricot or cherry trees, which can be killed if a fungus called eutipa dieback splashes from the raindrops onto exposed branches. Bill Powers, a Granite Bay resident and volunteer with the Master Gardeners hotline, said that while the latest round of precipitation will send gardeners indoors for activities as diverse as laying out work plans for pruning or watching a little football on the television, a little rain is a good thing. “From the reports I’ve seen, we can certainly use it,” Powers said. “We’re low on water.” Thursday’s rainfall was the first for the foothills in two weeks after a lengthy stretch of dry, warm weather. Applebaum, who has 20 fruit trees on her Applegate property, said she was hoping for a cool stretch to delay budding. If buds come out too early and then freeze, it could affect the health of a tree. “And you know we’re going to get more cold weather,” she said. Master Gardeners, including Applebaum and Auburn’s Peggy Bettramo, will be conducting a pruning workshop at the Placer Nature Center – rain or shine. The session will move indoors at the center if the rainfall is too heavy, Applebaum said. The workshop is at 10 a.m. Saturday in the demonstration garden at the Placer Nature Center, 3700 Christian Valley Road, Auburn. More information can be obtained by phoning (530) 889-7388. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at