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Healthy Fast Food, is this a Myth?

It’s Tuesday at 6 p.m. you just got off work, you  are hungry, tired and don’t feel like cooking and you are looking for healthy fast food. On your way home you see a McDonald’s. You’re trying to eat healthy. Instead of going home and eating you tell yourself you will order the grilled chicken sandwich, which is healthier, right? Are restaurants that claim to serve healthy and nutritious food actually good for you?

What do the experts say

“Yes, many fast food restaurants offer grilled meat items, fruits, salads and other healthier food choices,” said Dr. Onikia Brown, Extension specialist and assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics. “Variety and moderation are important when making food choices on the go.”

Fast food can be healthy for you. It is not about where you get your food, or how fast you get it, it is about the ingredients in the food. One fast food restaurant is not better or worse for you, it all depends on what you order.

“The worst thing for you to eat are the foods that contain high fats, sugar and salts,” says Dr. Michael Greene, director of Auburn University’s metabolic phenotyping laboratory. “A combination of all of these things is unhealthy. Try to avoid them and foods with refined ingredients.”

When it comes to fast food, people don’t usually consider it to be healthy at all. There are ways to eat a nutritious, well-balanced meal at a fast food restaurant but the unhealthy options are usually more appealing and desirable to eat.

It’s all about the ingredients

Eating a nutritious meal is all about the ingredients and are well-balance between protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. Most fast food restaurants don’t serve many vegetable options. The most common vegetable served at fast food restaurants is a potato served as french fries. There is no problem with eating fast food. The issue is they don’t offer many vegetable options.

“Salads are one of the healthiest options for you,” said Greene. “ You should eat not only lettuce but more leafy greens such as spinach or kale.”

The healthier options at fast food restaurants are soups, wraps, salads and grilled meat. These food items generally contain more nutrients and lower calories. All foods contain nutrients, however, eating food in moderation is they key to a well-balanced diet. Consuming too much of certain foods can be unhealthy. Moderation and variation are essential to a balanced diet.

“Eating lower calories helps, but over all, lower calorie foods might not give the proper nutrition,” said Greene. “Given the choice between which food item to choose, fewer calories is better, but it’s all about the ingredients.”

Not all fast food is bad for you. Today, more fast food restaurants are creating healthier options. You don’t have to feel mislead by a healthy option because it’s offered at a fast food restaurant. There is always a way to customize your order and choose a specific item that is healthy for you.

“Claims of healthy foods are based on caloric specifications. Fast food restaurants may offer a low-calorie salad or wrap, but what the consumer does to it once purchased may change the caloric content,” said Brown. “ If you frequently eat at fast food restaurants, drink water instead of sodas and teas.”

“When eating at a fast food restaurant, try to consume more fruits and vegetables,” said Greene. “Consuming more fruits and vegetables is the best way to eat. You don’t necessarily need to avoid a certain types of food but, by eating fruits and vegetables you will essentially eat less of other foods.”

Eating healthy on a budget

If the primary reason for eating fast foods is because of a low budget, there are many more ways to eat healthy than limiting yourself to fast food restaurants.

“For your source of protein, stay away from meats. Instead, eat more grains, beans and lentils,” said Greene. “ Don’t waste money on sodas and high sugary drinks, instead, buy fruit.”

Eating healthy on a budget requires more thought. Stay away from high processed foods with a lot of fat and sodium.

Moderation and variation are essential to a balanced diet. Wherever you eat, you can find a healthy option. Stick to fruits, vegetables and foods with high protein. Next time you order at a fast food restaurant, read the nutritional information carefully, skip the salty, fatty foods and avoid sugary drinks.

Source: Healthy Fast Food, is this a Myth? – Extension Daily

Alabama Extension Launches Avian Influenza Website

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has launched www.AlabamaAvianInfluenza.com in response to the recent confirmed cases of avian influenza in Tennessee.

“This website will be Extension’s education portal for consumers, backyard flock owners and commercial operators,” said Dr. Gary Lemme, Alabama Extension director.  “The site features important information on biosecurity measures for backyard keepers in particular.”

The website, www.AlabamaAvianInfluenza.com, features up-to-date information about the current status of Tennessee outbreak avian influenza as well as resource materials including fact sheets and videos.

Alabama is one of the nation’s leaders in broiler chicken production. The state’s poultry industry creates more than $15 billion in revenue and employs more than 86,000 workers in the state.

Crank up the Mower for Spring Lawn Clean-up

The sun is shining. Flowers are blooming. Bees are buzzing. And the birds are singing.  Spring is near.  It just a great time of the year to get outside, enjoy the spring weather, and do some much needed yard work.

By mid March, most home lawns look sort of ragged.  It’s not that the grass isn’t growing much or needs mowing; it’s just all those winter weeds out in the lawn have gotten bigger. Weeds can be an eyesore and you may be motivated to go out on one of those sunny days and spray them.  But don’t bother because you would likely be wasting your time, herbicide, and money. Most selective herbicides do not work on full-grown weeds. For annual weeds, like those in your lawn, they mature in early spring and begin reseeding themselves for next year. Their life cycle will be ending soon and they will begin dying. So for right now, forget using a herbicide on your lawn.

The best way to get rid of nuisance lawn weeds in the spring is to just crank up the lawn mower and cut them down. Running over the lawn a few times will help hide and suppress some of those pesky weeds that may have escaped or sneaked in and will make the lawn look much better.  Bagging the grass clippings and weeds a few times in the early spring (as well as in the late fall) will suck up those weed seeds and small debris that has gathered on the lawn the last few months.  If the lawn still has leaves and small twigs scattered around the lawn, bagging or picking them up is a must.  Excessive leaves and leftover piles of grass clippings on the lawn can serve as mulch and may smother any new growth.

Don’t get me wrong, herbicides are a great way to control weeds.  However, in order for them to work properly, they must be applied at the right time of the year. Timing is critical. Unfortunately, March is not the right time to start controlling winter weeds. The month of March is more of a transition time when winter weeds are maturing, reseeding, and dying and summer weeds are starting to germinate.  Simply mowing the weeds down will suppress them and ultimately help clean up the yard. If you bag the clippings while mowing, you will also reduce the number of weeds and seeds left behind on the lawn.  Plan on applying a pre-emergence herbicide in the fall so you don’t have such a weedy lawn next year.

Remember a major weed problem in the lawn is a sign of poor management and improper cultural practices. Sound cultural or management practices such as proper fertilization and liming, adequate watering, proper mowing height, and correct turfgrass selection for the site will result in less weeds and a dense, healthy attractive lawn. If the real problem is not corrected, then the use of herbicides will provide only a short-term fix and, in all likelihood, weeds will reoccur. The key to having no weeds is having a dense, healthy lawn.

Although mowing and clean-up is okay in the early spring, applying fertilizer too early isn’t a good idea for warm season grasses. Don’t get overly anxious with wanting to force the grass to green-up.  Wait to late April and May after any chance of a late frost before fertilizing.  Don’t waste your time and money guessing; know what nutrients your lawn really needs.  This includes most weed and feed products commonly found in stores; they all contain lots of nitrogen fertilizer.  Always follow the recommendations of an official soil test.

Generally, most people wait until the lawn has gotten fairly tall and thick and may actually need baling before the first real mowing of the year is done.  No reason not to start early this year. Whether you want to have that perfect lawn or you’re just excited about riding the lawn mower again, doing a little spring clean-up will help get that lawn back into shape for another year.  There is nothing like the smell of fresh cut grass (or weeds) in the spring!

by Shane Harris

Fertilize Old Pecan Trees to Improve Production

Have you ever wondered why the nuts on your pecan tree are undeveloped?  There are several pests that pecan trees can get.  These pests include pecan scab, downy spot disease, fungal leaf scorch, pecan phylloxera, and black pecan aphids.  These pests decrease the productivity of the tree.  Homeowners can not spray big pecan trees like the commercial growers.  But, planting disease resistant trees, along with proper fertilization, will help your pecan production.

Some of the recommended pecans that are scab resistant are hard to find at nurseries and may need to be ordered a year in advance. Pecan nurseries and much more information on pecan trees are listed on the Alabama Pecan Growers Web site at www.alabamapecangrowers.com.

Cross-pollination should be considered when planting pecan trees.  A particular pecan cultivar does not receive pollen at the same time the tree sheds pollen. Generally, the more different cultivars (types) of trees in the planting, the greater the chance for cross-pollination.

If you already have an established pecan orchard, fertilization is about the only way to increase production.  Of course a soil test is the best way to know for sure how much to fertilize your pecan trees.  But if you have not had a soil test done, there are some general guidelines to follow for fertilizing your pecan trees.

You should apply the following:  1 pound of 13-13-13 per tree per year of age up to 25 pounds per tree.  Plus, 1 pound of ammonium nitrate (34-0-0) per tree per year of age up to 20 pounds per tree.  Plus, 1/10 pound of zinc sulfate per tree per year of age up to 2 pounds per tree.  Plus, 5 pounds of dolomitic limestone per tree per year age up to 100 pounds per tree.

That may sound confusing.  Basically, if your trees are more than 25 years old you need 25 pounds of 13-13-13, 20 pounds of ammonia nitrate, 2 pounds of zinc, and 100 pounds of lime per year per tree.

For large trees, apply all of the fertilizer in March.  For younger trees, apply all of the 13-13-13 fertilizer, lime, and zinc in March.  Apply half the ammonium nitrate in April and the remainder in June.

The use of a mechanical spreader may help ensure an even application of the fertilizers.  Do not disturb the soil before applying the fertilizer.  Spread it under and around the tree in an area twice the branch spread of the tree.  The dolomite lime is the cheapest, but pelletized lime is easier to spread.

Remember that many pecan trees tend to be alternate bearers.  That means if they produce a heavy crop one year they may produce a light crop the next year.  Fertilizing is very important, but there are other things you can do to increase production.

Overcrowding can be a problem.  When the trees are close together and the limbs begin to overlap you may want to remove a few limbs.  This will increase air circulation and sunlight in the canopy of the tree. Mulching the trees can also help.

Pasture Management in the Winter-Spring Transition

The time surrounding spring green-up offers livestock producers an excellent opportunity to manage their pastures for success through the spring and summer months.

To maximize forage production through the summer, producers should take this time to establish and begin implementing a plan to:

1)     Evaluate Pastures for Drought Related Damage

2)     Begin Pasture Renovation if Needed

3)     Control Pasture Weeds

4)     Establish Proper Soil Fertility

5)     Set Up Grazing Systems to Reach Success

Let’s talk first about drought related matters…Did you know that sections of Alabama still remain in extreme drought? Furthermore, the northern counties of East Central Alabama are still in a severe drought as of 02/27/2017. To look up the drought status of your county, click here to go to the Alabama Drought Monitor.

Pasture Evaluation and Renovation:

As we enter the spring green up in drought recovery years, pasture assessment can help producers evaluate the impact of the drought on their summer perennial pastures. NRCS has an excellent system for examining pastures, and their Guide to Pasture Condition Scoring can be viewed here. In brief, once summer perennials emerge, you will want to determine what species are present (is this the type of forage you desire, or have weeds taken over?) and how well the forages cover your pasture (what percentage of the ground is covered by plants and what percentage is left bare?), plus other important factors.

If pastures grade poorly, with low amounts of desired summer grasses emerging after green up, you may need to consider pasture renovation. Here is a quick guideline to use when determining the amount of renovation you may need:

  1. If you get a 70% or greater stand of your summer perennial pasture grasses, your pasture is well on its way to recovering without much help. It should recover quickly with proper grazing strategies, weed control, and desired soil fertility. You will want to take care of this pasture as it emerges. Do not allow animals to graze too early, but you should expect good recovery under correct management.
  2. If a 40-70% stand emerges, pastures should still fully recover with weed control, proper fertility, grazing management, and perhaps a bit more patience. Though forage emergence is lower in stands of 40-70%, there are still adequate tillers underground. Between tillers and seed production, pastures should recover by fall. If these pastures are still thin in the fall, overseeding for winter annuals and/or legumes may prove helpful to keep soil covered and provide grazing through winter.
  3. In pastures with a stand <40%, much patience and effort will be needed for pasture recovery. Proper soil fertility and weed control are still important, but you may also need to re-establish desired forages in such pastures or consider utilizing a summer annual in some scenarios. You may also want to utilize winter annuals and legumes until the pasture has recovered. Click here to see the suggested planting dates for Alabama forages, and be wise if you decide to work towards re-establishing lost stands. Remember that newly planted grass will need adequate moisture and proper care to survive. It may not be a good idea to plant new perennial stands immediately if we remain in drought conditions.

Weed Control:

Weed control is a necessary part of pasture recovery. Weeds will compete with desired forage species for soil nutrients and sunlight. If pastures became bare during the drought, weeds were given an ideal scenario for growth. After this, weeds can smother out our already weakened stands of summer grasses as they attempt to emerge post-winter. There are two types of weed control you can do now:

  1. Winter Weed Control: Winter broadleaf weeds may not seem like much of an issue right now. But as we continue into spring, their presence and growth will overshadow desired summer forages as they attempt to emerge. Furthermore, such weeds are stealing valuable nutrients from the soil. Winter broadleaf weeds can be controlled now in most pastures with the usage of products like Sharpen, 2,4-D, Grazon, and Weedmaster. Make sure to read labels for guidelines, and only use herbicides on pastures when and where such products are labeled for use. If you have questions, contact a member of the Animal Science and Forages team and look up weed control options here.
  2. Summer Weed Control: You can treat summer perennial pastures before emergence with pre-emergent herbicide (Prowl H20). Before spraying pre-emergent, it is important to evaluate pasture emergence. Spraying after summer forages have begun to emerge may set desirable plants back. If you use Prowl H20, it is valuable to know that a supplemental label has been released that will allow you to use Prowl on certain pastures post-emergence, in the growing season, after cutting. See supplemental label here.

Soil Fertility:

Proper soil fertility and pH are necessary for optimum production in all years. However, proper soil conditions following drought are essential for pasture recovery. Take a soil test in all pastures today and correct soil deficiencies to allow pastures the opportunity to succeed. Click here for a more in depth discussion of soil testing.

Proper Grazing Strategies:

As summer forages emerge, it is important to correctly manage and graze recovering pastures. Remind yourself that the green leaves of grass are essential for the plant’s overall health and sustainability. Grass leaves catch sunlight that the plant uses to make energy (plant food). If we graze pastures too low, we greatly reduce the amount of leaf available to catch sunlight. This reduces the ability of the plant to make energy, and leads to slower pasture growth and recovery. Now is the time to set up a grazing system to allow you to rotate animals through pastures. Rotational grazing will allow your animals to better utilize the forage available in each pasture, and will increase forage growth since you keep animals from eating specific areas down too low. Healthier pastures will produce more forage, more quickly-allowing your animals better nutrition.

Now is the time to create and begin implementing a plan to allow your pastures to fully recover from drought! Be proactive by taking the steps above to ensure your success.

Sarah Dickinson, M.S.

Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Regional Extension Agent I – Animal Science & Forages

Ph.D. Student – Reproductive Physiology/Molecular Biology

Cell: 256-537-0024

Office: 256-825-1050


Serving Chambers, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Lee, Randolph, Shelby, Talladega, and Tallapoosa Counties

March is National Nutrition Month – Extension Daily

Source: March is National Nutrition Month 

National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

This year’s theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward,” which acts as a reminder that each bite counts. Making just small shifts in your food choices can add up over time. Start with small changes in your eating habits – one fork at a time –to make healthier lasting changes you can enjoy.

Whether you are planning meals to prepare at home or making selections when eating out, put your best fork forward to help find your healthy eating style.

Key messages

Some of the key messages for National Nutrition Month include:

  1. Create an eating style that includes a variety of your favorite, healthful foods.
  2. Practice cooking more at home and experiment with healthier ingredients.
  3. How much you eat is as important as what you eat. Eat and drink the right amount for you, as MyPlate encourages you to do.
  4. Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  5. Manage your weight or lower your health risks by consulting a registered dietitian nutritionist. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.

Alabama Extension has nutrition professionals that serve every county in the state. If you have a nutrition question, contact your county Extension office.


Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Heart disease is the leading cause of death of both men and women. February is Heart Health awareness month, a time to get your checkups and make small changes to your lifestyle to prevent Heart disease. It is very important to know your family history, your own health numbers, and the risk factors that you can and cannot control.

Risk Factors You Can Control:

  • Lack of Physical activity
  • Unhealthy diet, high in salt & cholesterol
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much Alcohol
  • Overweight and Obesity
  • Sleep Apnea

Risk Factors Outside Your Control:

  • Family history
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race


High blood pressure, also called Hypertension, is the “silent killer” because you do not always have warning signs. One thing that we commonly have done on is blood pressure checks. This is something you can do at home or at your local pharmacies just to keep a check on yourself. It is important to know what those numbers mean and when you should be alarmed. So what is normal?

Blood Pressure Category Top Number SYSTOLIC Bottom Number DIASTOLIC
Normal Less than 120 Less than 80
Prehypertension 120-139 80-89
Hypertension (stage 1) 140-159 90-99
Hypertension (stage 2) 160 or higher 100 or higher
Hypertensive crisis (911) Higher than 180 Higher than 110
  • 120 (the top number represents the pressure while the heart is beating)
  • 80   (the bottom number represents the pressure when the heart is resting between beats)

Feel free to contact Sheree Taylor at 256-499-7146 or snr0010@auburn.edu for an educational program in relation to the Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, & obesity in your community.

Plant Asparagus and Be Rewarded for Many Seasons

Asparagus may be one of the most costly vegetables at the supermarket.  However, this perennial vegetable may be one of the easiest to grow.  Perennials are plants that live for many growing seasons.  Perennial plants dieback in the winter and come back in the spring from the same root system.  Asparagus plants will produce for 20 years, if not longer, providing the tender green spears every spring. It will take 2 – 3 years before the asparagus reaches full production.  So, before you begin planting, choose the perfect site and prepare the bed well, it’s going to be there a long time.


There are several varieties of Asparagus officinalis altilis to choose from.  Most have heard of Mary Washington.  This is an older variety that has been a standard for many decades.  It is a female variety.  No, you do not need more than one variety, and it doesn’t matter if you have male or female plants.  I really like some of the newer male hybrids such as Jersey Knight and Jersey Gem.  Often, they produce more spears.  The male plants do not produce seeds which can lead to seedling asparagus that may become a nuisance in the garden.  There is also a purple cultivar of asparagus that grows well here, Purple Passion.  Once cooked, it will turn green. Green, purple, blue, or yellow, fresh asparagus spears from the garden is hard to beat.

Planting Time

Dormant asparagus crowns can be planted as early January through March in Alabama. Use one year old crowns or plants as it takes one to two years longer to produce asparagus from seed. Purchase the plants from a garden store, nursery or through a seed catalog. Set crowns out in the Spring.  The most common planting method is to dig a trench 10 to 12 inches deep and just as wide.  Incorporate rotted manure or compost in the bottom of the trench before setting the crowns into the trench.


Set plants in the sun – Asparagus, like most vegetable plants, needs full sun.  Full sun means at least 6 – 8 hours of uninterrupted sunlight every day.  Asparagus beds planted near trees may receive full sun at the time the bed was prepared.  Remember the trees will grow and years from now, the bed may become shaded.  Plan accordingly.   Plant asparagus along the perimeter of the vegetable garden so it will not be in the way of garden equipment.  .

Soil-  Asparagus prefers a high organic soil. Most soils in Alabama will have to be amended to grow asparagus successfully.

Fertility– Asparagus has medium to high fertility requirements.  A soil test is the best way to calculate fertilizer requirements. Before planting, incorporate 1 pound of actual nitrogen into the planting bed.  Another pound of actual nitrogen can be applied after harvest.    One pound of actual nitrogen per 1000 square feet is equal to approximately ¾ lb of ammonium nitrate per 100 feet of row.

pH – 6.0 to 7.0

Moisture – Asparagus requires a moist soil – about 1 to 2 inches of water per week (more on a sandy soil; less for a clay soil).

Spacing and Depth

Set the crowns 12 inches apart in the trench.  Asparagus beds or trenches should be at least 3 feet apart.  Place the crowns on top of a small amount of loose soil in the bottom of the trench.  Make sure the roots of the crown are spread out over the soil.  The crowns should be covered with 2- 3 inches of soil.  The asparagus will grow up and through this soil.  When it does pull the soil in around the crowns and cover them up with a couple of inches of soil.  Again, the asparagus plants will grow through.  Cover them again and repeat until the trench is filled.  Take care of the plants. Asparagus is a fern like plant.  Let it grow until frost turns the asparagus plant brown.  At that time you can cut down the brown ferns.  Early the next year, use your soil test results to fertilize the plants.

Harvesting and Storage

 Early in the year, you will see the asparagus spears start to poke through the ground.  But, be patient.  Do not harvest any asparagus the first year, much like blueberries.  Harvesting too much too early will result in a week plant.  The second year, you will be able to enjoy about 6 weeks of harvest…and maybe 8 weeks the next year. Harvest the spears daily when they are 5 to 7 inches tall.  Snap off above the soil line.  Harvest in the early morning and use or refrigerate immediately.

Nutritional Value

Asparagus is low in calories and carbohydrates, and compared to other vegetables it is relatively rich in protein.  Asparagus is an excellent source of potassium, vitamin K, folic acid, vitamins C and A, riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamin B6.  It is also a very good source of dietary fiber, niacin, phosphorus, protein, and iron.

by Dani Carroll

Time to Sign up for 2017 4-H Summer Camp

Registration for Alabama 4-H’s Summer Camp is now open! Tallapoosa County 4-H’ers will be attending 4-H Camp June 5-7, 2017 in Columbiana, Alabama. Summer Camp is open to any 4-H member between the ages of 9 and 14.

The total cost for camp is $125, and that price includes transportation, lodging, meals, snacks, a t-shirt and lots of fun activities! Some of the activities include canoeing, paddle boarding, archery and rocketry, just to name a few. See this pamphlet for more details. Click here to see highlight videos from last year’s Summer Camp.

Registration and a deposit for Summer Camp is due by Friday, February 24, 2017. Space is limited, so act fast! Contact our office at 256-825-1050 for more information and to register.

Prune Muscadines For Bigger & Better Berries

It’s a chore to prune muscadine grapes, but it definitely pays off in the long run, especially if you like picking and eating big berries in the summer or having homemade jelly with your morning biscuit. Although homeowners may be tempted to prune very little or not at all, the quality of the fruit will suffer and the overall management will become more difficult.  Pruning the past season’s growth of muscadines must be done each winter to ensure a high-quality crop and vigorously growing vines as well as balance vine growth with fruit production.  The goal of growing muscadines is to maximize production without compromising fruit quality, or in other words – produce bigger and better berries.

Failure to prune for even one year makes production difficult. An unpruned muscadine vine eventually becomes a mass of tangled, unproductive, and diseased growth that is impossible to manage and harvest. A vine that is fully established and trained to a trellis system requires annual pruning, usually in late February or March, to maintain productivity. The objectives of pruning include removal of dead, damaged, or otherwise undesirable wood. Pruning also regulates vegetative growth and maintains the quality and quantity of the crop.

Pruning consists of three distinct tasks: (1) pruning the previous seasons growth (one-year-old) to fruiting spurs; (2) spur thinning (removing parts of some spurs and, in some instances, all of others to lessen crowding); and (3) removal of tendrils to prevent girdling.

Removal of Previous Season’s Growth

For most varieties of muscadines, cut back all of the previous year’s growth, which is light brown, to two to four buds. A short spur variety may have two or three buds and a long spur variety may have four or more buds. Be sure to remove all extra canes from the trunk except the permanent arms or use those canes to replace damaged or dead arms. Theoretically, vines with longer spurs (canes) yield more, but they must have the capacity to support the increased shoot growth and adequately mature the greater fruit load that results from leaving the spurs longer. Vines that are pruned to long spurs must also be grown in good, high-fertility soils and must never be subjected to drought stress.

Spur Thinning

Spur size is compounded with each annual pruning, and crowding can occur after four or five years. Gradual thinning of spurs each year after the third bearing season will minimize yield reductions caused by the spur wood removal. Removal of spur clusters in an alternating pattern each year allows for thinning and spacing without excessive yield loss.

Removal Of Tendrils

It is essential that all tendrils that are wrapped around permanent vine structures, such as the main trunk or spurs, be removed to prevent girdling and death of important plant parts. Tendrils are difficult to cut. A sharp knife is the
best instrument for the job. Tendrils also are difficult to see; take care to assure that they are not overlooked.

Unless a vine is pruned yearly, fruit-bearing wood develops farther and farther away from the main trunk. Eventually there is only a thin layer of new growth over a mass of tangled, non bearing wood. Neglected vines will eventually produce less and less each year. 

by Shane Harris