acreage living March 1999

ISU cooperative extension

In this issue: acreage living home page

 Prune Trees in Late Winter

Eldon Everhartby Eldon Everhart, ISU Extension Field Specialist/Horticulture, Shelby County
Phone: 712-755-3104 - e-mail:

All too often, trees are planted, watered for the first year or two, and then ignored. They are on their own and often survive and grow unattended for several years with no apparent problems.

Unfortunately, many of these neglected trees have a shorter useful life span. Before they reach maturity, many are damaged by storms or other stresses. Many have structural defects that can be traced back to improper pruning or no pruning at all.

Trees resist the entry of wood-rotting organisms by forming barriers. Contained within the branch collar (the flared base of most branches), is an important protective zone that prevents the spread of decay. The branch collar and raised strip of bark, the branch bark ridge, mark this boundary between the branch and trunk. Pruning cuts should be made to the outside of the branch bark ridge and collar. Flush cuts are not recommended because they violate the protection zone and leave large wounds.

What can be done to prevent storm damage and extend the life of a tree? The answer is proper pruning throughout the life of the tree.

Late winter (March and early April) is a good time to prune shade trees, flowering trees, and fruit trees. The absence of foliage makes it easy to see the structure of deciduous trees and easier to remove appropriate branches.

Pruning can also be done at other times of the year. In fact, pruning to remove broken, dead, or diseased branches should be done as soon as defects are noticed. However, pruning should not be done in the spring when leaves are forming because energy reserves are low and the bark tears easily.

Steps in branch removal:

steps in branch removal1 Undercut to prevent bark stripping;

2. Remove majority of branch;

3. Remove stub with a final cut outside the branch collar.



Research has shown that tree paint does not prevent wood decay and in some cases slows the tree's wound response and protects wood-rotting organisms.

Tree pruning should begin at the time of planting. But avoid the temptation to "thin" a young tree's crown. Excessive pruning removes leaves needed to manufacture carbohydrates. Severe pruning also removes stored energy in branches and buds that the tree will need for root growth. Research has shown that post-plant growth is more rapid and trees will establish sooner if pruning at planting time is limited to removing only weak, dead, diseased, rubbing, or injured branches.

Also avoid removing the many small side branches along the trunk. These branches help the trunk increase in diameter and make for a sturdier tree. In general, at least two-thirds of the tree height should be left as crown (branches and leaves).

After the tree has become established (usually one year after planting), pruning becomes a job of "training." The first step in training is to identify limbs that will eventually make up the tree's framework. Scaffold branches selected should be spaced evenly around the trunk. Major limbs on large-growing shade trees should be spaced 18 to 24 inches apart on alternating sides of the trunk. For smaller-growing trees, a spacing of 6 to 12 inches is recommended. And never let one limb grow directly over a lower one.

Unless the tree has a natural multi-stemmed habit, it should be trained to have a single, central dominant leader. The central leader is the topmost vertical stem extending from the trunk. Laterals that grow taller than the leader should be pruned back. Double leaders, if left unattended, can cause problems.

Mature trees should be pruned cautiously. Dead branches and those structurally unsound should be removed. But mature trees should never be thinned excessively or topped.

For more information on pruning trees, pick up a copy of"Pruning Shade and Flowering Trees" (Pm-1304), "Pruning Forest Trees" (Pm-1133), and "Pruning and Training Fruit Trees" (Pm-780) at your local county Extension office.

Pruning Workshops
If you would like to learn firsthand how to prune fruit trees you will want to attend one or more of the hands-on pruning demonstrations and workshops conducted by ISU Extension horticulture specialists. Please call the phone number listed for more information or for directions. Some sites require pre-registration.
March 3, 2:30 p.m. -- Appleberry Farms, Marshalltown (Marshall Co.), 515-752-1551

March 7, 1 p.m. -- Bock's Berry Farm, Lone Tree (Johnson Co.), 319-337-2145

March 13, 1:30 p.m. -- Allen's Orchard, Marion (Linn Co.), 319-337-9839

March 13, 2 p.m. -- School for the Deaf, Council Bluffs (Pottawattamie Co.), 712-366-7070

March 13, 10 a.m. -- Brooklyn (Poweshiek Co.), 800-769-9986

March 16, 5:30 p.m. -- Paul & Yvonne Gregory Acreage, 32271 K22, Sioux City, 712-276-2157

March 17, 9 a.m. -- Paul & Yvonne Gregory Acreage, 32271 K22, Sioux City, 712-276-2157

March20, 10 a.m. -- (Dallas Co.), 515-993-4281

March 20, 10 a.m. -- Community Center, Bettendorf(Scott Co.), 319-359-7577

March 24, 1 p.m. -- Denver area, site to be determined (Bremer Co.), 319-882-4275

March 27, 10 a.m. -- Jerome Murphy, Casey (Guthrie Co.), 515-747-2276

March 31, 1 p.m. -- Mental Health Institute, Cherokee (Cherokee Co.), 712-225-6196

April 3, 11 a.m. --Iowa Arboretum, Luther (Boone Co.), 515-795-3216 (also grafting)



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 Should You File Your Taxes Electronically?

Mary Beth Kaufman by Mary Beth Kaufman, ISU Extension Field Specialist/Family Resource Management, Shelby County
Phone: 712-755-3104 - e-mail:

Last year 219,000 Iowans filed their federal income tax returns and 186,433 filed their state returns electronically. Those numbers are predicted to increase as more tax preparers and software developers participate in electronic filing.

So, should you jump on the bandwagon? Those who file electronically say a big advantage is the prompt receipt of the refund. You will receive your federal and state refunds in about two weeks as compared to six weeks if paper filed.

Electronic filing is now easier than ever with three options -- through a tax preparer, from your own PC, or at an Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance site.

To file electronically with a tax preparer, your state and federal returns need to be prepared as usual. You can do this yourself or have your tax preparer do it for you. Take your returns with your W2s and supporting schedules to a participating tax preparer who will walk you through the few additional steps needed. If you choose to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account, you will need to provide proof of your account, such as a voided check. Remember to ask about the electronic filing fee, which is in addition to the tax preparation fee and commonly ranges from $2.50 to $35.

To file from your home computer, you will need Internet access. SecureTax and Intuit are the only software developers approved to file 1998 Iowa income tax returns electronically. Visit their websites at or for more information about filing procedures. Costs for preparation, printing, and c-filing range from $9.95 to $19.95. One company also offers the service at no cost if your adjusted gross income is $20,000 or less.

The third option is filing electronically at an Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance site. Sites in Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Sioux City, and Waterloo offer assistance preparing Iowa tax returns only. You will need to bring your federal return already completed to these sites. Sites in Cedar Rapids and Davenport offer assistance in preparing federal and state returns. Taxpayers must meet certain conditions before assistance can be given. First, your total income must be $30,000 or less. If you file a joint return, both of you must be present to sign the return. Also remember to take along a current photo identification card; social security numbers for yourself your spouse, and each dependent; and, a copy of your 1997 federal return.

Also be aware that Iowa requires your state return be electronically filed together with your federal return. And the IRS will only permit ONE state return to be electronically filed with your federal return. So if you live in one state and work in another, one state return can be filed electronically and the other will need to be paper filed.

If you OWE tax, you can still file electronically. Your return will be processed just as quickly and accurately, but you will not have to send in the amount you owe until the due dates -- April 15 for federal and April 30 for Iowa. And if you "break even" you can also file electronically.

More and more taxpayers are finding that electronic filing is worth the effort. Fewer than one percent of returns filed electronically have errors. Acknowledgement of receipt takes only a few days. And tax dollars are being saved through reduced labor-intensive processing steps, paper usage, and storage space.

Source:Iowa Dept of Revenue and Finance website


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 A Nutrition Tip for Bottom Feeders

Pat Andersonby Pat Anderson, ISU Extension Field Specialist/Food & Nutrition, East Pottawattamie County.
Phone: 712-482-6449 - e-mail:

If you are a bottom feeder, you are getting enough complex carbohydrates into your diet each day by following the recommendations for foods from the bottom group of the Food Guide Pyramid. Depending on personal calorie needs, bottom feeders are eating somewhere between 6 and 11 servings daily of bread cereal, pasta, and rice.

But just a minute --if you are feeling pretty smug about your grain food intake, wipe that smile off your face if at least half of those servings aren't whole grain foods. As a bottom feeder of refined grains that have had their fiber and nutrient rich bran and germ removed, you are neglecting your heart and inviting diverticular disease.

A research study at the University of Minnesota followed 30,000 women ages 55 to 69 for nine years. The study found that those who ate at least three of their daily complex carbohydrate servings as whole grains were 30% less likely to die of a heart attack than those who ate less than one daily serving of whole grain.

While researchers can't say exactly what it is about whole grains that provide protection against heart attacks, we do know that whole grains have more fiber, more vitamin E, and they contain more phytochemicals ~lant chemicals) that act as antioxidants. Whole grains also have more phytoestrogens that are thought to play a role in preventing chronic diseases like heart disease.

enough fiber in your daily diet (and water) waste materials become very compact and the rings of the intestine have to work harder to push stools through your system. Pushing or straining puts pressure on the walls of the intestine and causes the lining of the intestine to bulge out in small pockets at weak areas.

It is estimated that about half of Americans over 60 and just about everyone over the age of 80 has some degree of diverticulosis. In about 20 percent of people with these pockets a rupture occurs causing an infection that can be treated with antibiotics, but sometimes requires surgery. Preventing diverticulosis is, of course, preferable and a diet with about 25 grams of fiber each day is preventive.

An adventurous bottom feeder will try brown rice (instant is okay with as much fiber as the longer cooking variety), whole wheat pasta, and oatmeal in everything from their breakfast cereal bowl to their sandwich bread at lunch and on top of their fruit crisp with dinner. There are lots of tasty whole grain choices so find your favorites, but also eat variety for a variety of nutrients.


Acreage Living is published monthly. For more information, contact your local county ISU Extension Office.
Editor: Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension FS/Ag Engineering, SW Area Extension, 53020 Hitchcock Avenue, Lewis, Iowa, 51544, Ph: 712/769-2600
Layout & Design: Paulette Cambridge, Office Assistant, SW Area Extension, 53020 Hitchcock Avenue, Lewis, Iowa 51544, Ph: 712/769-2600

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