Lately if you don't like the weather, just wait a day and it changes for sure.
Now is a good time to consider pruning for a variety of plants. One benefit to pruning now is that without leaves, one can see the shape and form better.
While one would not want to prune flowering ornamentals now as blooms would be removed, there are other plants that require March pruning.
Fire blight bacteria can over winter in the cankers on fruit tree branches, twigs and trunks of infected trees.
When spring weather is warm and moist, fire blight bacteria can multiply in diseased tissues and oozes from the twig/branch surfaces in a liquid form that is light tan in color.
Insects, rain splash, etc., can transmit the bacteria to blossoms and other parts of the tree enhancing infection. Therefore, look for fire blight to eliminate or minimize this problem. The blight can be recognized by dry, blackened growth, often with the old leaf material still attached.
Fire blight cankers are sunken lesions on the trunk and shoots that are key spots where the bacteria survive the winter. When in doubt about how much to cut out, just cut it out. One drop of the tan honeydew ooze will contain one billion bacteria. Therefore, it makes little sense to risk leaving infection in the tree.
Fruit trees that continually suffer fire blight should be culled. Right now, the risk of transferring bacteria with pruning tools is negligible.
However, it would make sense to use the typical spring and summer practice of dipping pruning tools into a 10 percent bleach solution between each cut. Publication BP-30, Fire Blight on Fruit Trees in the Home Orchard, is a good resource.
Grapes are also typically pruned during the month of March.
With the coldest temperatures of the season over, freeze damage can be assessed and removed. Also by April, bud shoots begin to swell and would be damaged by pruning. For more detail about pruning to balance the vine loading, contact the office for detail from Purdue's Bruce Bordelon in HO-45 Growing Grapes in Indiana.
A great deal of activity can be going on now for those with small fruit crops. Summer bearing brambles can be pruned now, particularly when last year's canes were not removed at the end of last summer or fall. Spring is also the best time for pruning blueberries. Strawberries should soon have the straw removed from the beds and to the row middles as mid-March typically correlates with four-inch soil temperatures in the 40-43 degree range. Late straw removal can cut yields by one-fourth. The loss of those delicious strawberries is enough to force one outside at this point in time, no matter how cold it may be.
You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 1-812-829-5020 Ext. 14 in Owen County or 448-9041 in Clay County for more information or publication copies regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While most publications are free, some do have a fee.
All times listed are Eastern Time.
March 17 -- AG Day Dinner, Owen County Fairgrounds, 6:30 p.m.,
March 26 -- PARP Program, Putnam County Fairgrounds, 1 p.m.,
March 19 -- Ag Day Dinner, Clay County Fairgrounds, 6:30 p.m.