Frequently Asked Questions
Cooperative Extension works to improve lives, communities and the economy by serving as a statewide network of knowledgeable faculty and staff. The FAQs are submitted via email, website, social media and phone calls to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension and answered by our team(s) of experts in their particular area.
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What are the planting dates for Yuma?
Recommended publication: Planting and Harvesting Calendar for Gardeners in Yuma County
Can peonies be grown in Yuma?
Peonies can survive in the Yuma area, but they require a significant amount of winter chilling (cold temperatures) to trigger flowering. And, here in the Yuma area, it's hit and miss as lately, our winters have been quite warm. I would not recommend Peony's in our area.
I have about 6 Harris ground squirrels in my backyard, and they've dug their burrow right under my golden barrel cactus. While they're very cute, I'm afraid they may be hurting the cactus. Is there any way to tell? I'm also thinking of sprinkling cayenne pepper in/near the burrow to deter them. Will that help?
What will help keep ground squirrels away from my barrel cactus?
Harris's antelope squirrels are known to feed on seeds and fruit along with insects and so they are not likely damaging your cactus on purpose. If it looks like they are exposing the roots, that could be bad for the cactus. Fortunately, the golden barrels are tough plants and they have a shallow root system so there is room to burrow beneath them. As you may know, these squirrels along with the round-tailed ground squirrels are difficult to discourage. They may respond to your cayenne pepper although you might need to use a pepper paste or pepper spray to make it sticky and troublesome to them. The only other method recommended is fencing them out with hardware cloth buried a few inches down and curved away from the plant in an "L" shape so they won't just tunnel under it.
I have a dwarf nectarine tree that is 5-6 years old selected for this zone. It is my most beautiful tree but has never had fruit. It is covered with blossoms each spring and bees are all over it but there is never fruit. The peach and the apricot on either side of it always produce fruit. Should I dig it up and get another one or wait one more year? It is a beautiful tree!
Why is my nectarine tree not producing fruit?
There are a number of reasons why a deciduous fruit tree may not produce fruit. The ones that we have identified as possibly pertinent to your situation are as follows:
It could be incomplete pollination if the flowers are not falling off. If the flowers are shriveling and dying on the tree then there is a pollination problem. However, you stated that there are bees around and trees adjacent to this one that produce so this seems less likely. Nectarines are self-fruitful and do not require a pollenizer tree.
The tree may require more chill hours than Tucson gets - perhaps it was mislabeled when you bought it. Many nectarine varieties require 600 to 900 chill hours but Tucson typically gets 350. If you know the variety name we can look up its chill hour requirements.
Fertilizing with too much nitrogen or at the wrong times - but that would seem to affect adjacent trees so that may not apply. Over fertilization stimulates excessive growth at the expense of flower production.
Possibly the tree is sterile and just doesn't produce fruit - we don't know why this happens but it seems to happen sometimes. We simply get a tree that doesn't produce. Then your dilemma is whether to keep it for beauty or replace for production.
Do you know of a natural weed/grass killer. Do not want to use Roundup and have already tried Vinegar/Dawn/Epson Salts---it did not work!
What can I use as a natural weed/grass killer?
Corn gluten meal can be used as a pre-emergent (kills weed seeds before germinating). Do not apply after the weeds begin to grow, as it is nitrogen. If you want to choke out undesirable weeds over time, and you have an area that lends itself to native vegetation, you can plant competitors like native buffalo grass or blue grama grass. You can solarize the ground to kill everything Manage with chickens, goats, or sheep If you use vinegar, which is acetic acid, it needs to be at least 10% acetic acid, so household vinegar will not be strong enough
I'm curious to know if UA Cooperative Extension is hiring for any positions right now and if there is a place to submit applications?
Where can I find job opportunities with UA Cooperative Extension?
Thank you for your interest in working with Arizona Cooperative Extension! Visit the Employment Opportunity page for open positions within the organization. If you don't see what you're looking for, please continue to check back often - our hiring needs are in constant consideration and more positions may come available soon.
How big should I dig my planting hole?
Dig a hole three to four times as wide and the same depth as the rootball. Do not disturb soil at bottom of the hole. Fill planting hole with water and allow to drain. Fill again. Water should drain in about 24 hours. If it hasn't, try another site, create a drainage chimney, or consider a raised bed. Remove plant from container; slice the outside of the rootball if rootbound. Set in planting hole with top of rootball one inch above the surrounding soil level. Fill hole with soil dug from the planting hole; no need to add amendments. Water thoroughly to settle soil. Build a soil basin or install sufficient drip emitters. Add 3 to 4 inches of mulch over the root area to conserve moisture.
I have heard that UA will deliver topsoil (or compost) for gardens. If this is still done can you give me any details or contact info?
Do you sell compost?
The University of Arizona has compost for sale but not top soil. You can either pick it up or have it delivered. Here is the information. https://www.compostcats.com
My roses and bougainvillea have round holes cut in the leaves? What caused it?
Solitary leafcutter bees remove circles of leaf to build nests for their young. The harvesting does not endanger the health of the plant.
Where can I get publications about growing and caring for fruit trees?
I'm trying to find out if you provide water testing for the public. We live in Mesa and we would like to get a comprehensive water test done.
Does UA Cooperative Extension provide water testing?
University of Arizona does not provide water testing for the general public.
- The following commercial laboratories are licensed by the Office of Laboratory Services to perform drinking water testing for Arizona . The list contains the laboratories current contact information. Please note that not all commercial laboratories perform all drinking water testing.
- List of Arizona Certified Commercial Drinking Water Laboratories - Arizona Department of Health Services
- If you want to learn more about your water, and understand a bit more about the results you get from your test the following publication is helpful. Please note it is a large file, 106 pages, but is has a wealth of information about water.
- Arizona: Know your Water - University of Arizona Cooperative Extension
There's a white fuzz on my cactus. What is it?
The white fuzz is a protective coating produced by a tiny insect called Cochineal Scale. Wash the insects off with a strong stream of water.
How well do daylilies grow in Green Valley?
Daylilies do well in Green Valley.
You can plant them in Spring or fall. Now is too hot to plant. Space them 24" apart and plant the bulb to a depth of 4-6 inches.
If you can, plant them in filtered shade, that is more desirable but I have seen them in full sun too. Divide the bulbs every 3-4 years.
I live in Maricopa County and I am wondering what the best time is to apply pre-emergent to my property? I have two acres of desert and know from experience that the winter rains can result in extensive weeds come Spring and want to try to avoid this. Also, I have been using the standard orange pre-emergent that one gets from the home stores. Is there something that might be better at preventing weeds that I can purchase, and where can I obtain it
What is the best time of year to apply pre-emergent herbicides in Maricopa County area?
The use of preemergence residual herbicide provides a foundation for season-long weed management, along with tillage and other chemical management practices. It’s recommended to use preemergence when temperatures are high enough for seeds to take water, but before any germination. In Central Arizona, the end of fall and beginning of spring are the optimum times to use preemergence herbicides. But again, it’s judgment based on the temperature and amount of rain in certain areas. With above normal rain we received this summer/fall I would expect you have many emerged weeds in your property right now. If this is the case, and beside preemergence, you will also need to deal with these weeds using postemergence herbicides. Near the end of winter when it starts to warm up, and before any germination, you’ll need to apply preemergence again.
Besides standard orange preemergence, there are dinitroaniline (DNA or “yellow”) products that are helpful in delay or avoid developing herbicide resistant weed populations. Most of herbicides can be found at some retailers like Bug and Weed Mart, and some agrochemical companies like Helena, Fertizona and Wilbur-Ellis.
With some weed resistant to Roundup and other postemergence herbicides in central Arizona, it requires the use of a diverse chemicals for weed control tactics.
I have a concrete septic tank is concrete with a concrete riser which is about a foot and a half opening which is covered with a round piece of concrete. My question is: Does the cover need to be sealed or does it matter if it fits good except for a little space which air can get in or out.
Does my septic tank need to be sealed or can it have a little space for air?
Septic tanks need to be watertight. The riser should be sealed to the top of the tank and the riser cover should be sealed to the riser with butyl rubber or some other flexible sealant. No liquid should enter or leave the tank. Further information on septic systems, please refer to: https://extension.arizona.edu/onsite-wastewater
I bought a house last summer that had a neglected large Bermuda lawn. I'm not sure which strand of Bermuda it is, unfortunately. All I did was maintain the lawn until I over-seeded with Rye for the winter which looked great. Now, the Rye has dried out and I have scalped my lawn to prepare for the transition to my Bermuda lawn. I was planning on aerating this upcoming Saturday, topping with fertilizer and starting to water regularly again (I shut sprinklers off last week to encourage the Rye to die).
Do you have recommendations on type of fertilizer?
After I aerate, I was interested in throwing some extra Bermuda seed out there before topping with fertilizer just to thicken up the lawn and fill in any bare spots. Would you recommend this? If so, does the seed have to match the existing Bermuda strand I have? Because, I do not know that.
What fertilizer should I use for Bermuda and how much should I water?
Put down 4 to 5 pounds of the product in each 1000 square foot area of the lawn. Since you turned off the water to scorch the rye grass, that may have set back the bermuda... just a tiny bit. So at this point after you fertilize and aerify, simply water once each night, putting down about 1/4 inch of water. If your lawn has simple pop up sprinklers that don't rotate (simply pop up and spray)... run them for about 12 minutes per night. When the bermuda is about 80% covering the lawn, then water every other night for 16-18 minutes. The lawn will tell you if that's not enough water.
Since you don't know what bermuda you have, adding seed will have a good chance of making the lawn highly non uniform. Let the underlying bermuda grass come back, it will unless something else drastic has happened. That should get you back to bermuda land.
I see some bees coming around my hummingbird feeder. Is it possible these are the 'killer' bees that have killed dogs and attacked people?
Do I have killer bees on my property
There is no way of knowing if the bees you see are the Africanized Honeybee (AHB) or the European Honeybee (EHB). Visually EHB and AHB are identical to each other. Experts can not tell them apart with out laboratory analysis. They are not killer bees, even though the media makes it sounds as if these insects require human flesh to complete their life cycle! Honeybees are not native to the Americas. There are six species of honeybees in the world and over 20,000 known species of bees. EHB were brought to America by immigrants and known by Native Americans as white man's lice. In the mid 1950's bee researchers imported some AHB into Brazil to breed with EHB to hopefully increase the EHB's honey production in tropical environments. Some AHB escaped and began moving north. They arrived in south Texas 1992. Honeybees defend their colonies or home vigorously because this is where their young are reared and food is stored. In nature, bears, skunks and other animals try to steal their stored food. Honeybees are aggravated by motions of larger dark objects, animal smells like leather and perfumes, shampoos and perspiration. Both bee species sting in the same way, going for the head and eyes, with a barbed stinger that remains in the victim. AHB venom is just as potent as EHB venom. Venom is pumped from a bulb on the top end of the stinger through it into flesh. Stingers should be scraped out with a knife, finger nail or credit card. Trying to pull out a stinger will squeeze more venom into the victim's flesh. A lone foraging bee whether an EHB or AHB will not bother you if you do not bother it. Swarms of honeybees are seen during the spring and summer and with AHB swarm even in the fall and warm winters. About half of the old colonies bees accompany the queen. This is the way that honeybees divide and establish colony and form another. They are not defensive because they are looking for a home and have nothing to defend. Once a place is located by scout bees and the swarm then set up house keeping. When the new colony is established with young and food stores the bees will defend it. AHB will defend their colony more vigorously than EHB. EHB have been selected and red for centuries to be docile and productive. AHB are just like EHB but just have a bad aggressive attitude. More people die in the United States from lighting than from bee stings. The numbers perhaps will increase with the AHB but will not likely surpass lightning deaths. It is advised to close holes and cracks in homes, barns and out-buildings that are larger than a pencil eraser. Use caulk, boards or other suitable materials. Make weekly inspections of wood piles, abandoned cars, old tires and junk piles which could make suitable place for swarming bees to establish new colonies. If new colonies are found call certified bee removal personnel such as beekeeper, pest control operators or the Arizona Department of Agriculture so action can be initiated. If you or someone else is stung run into a house or vehicle to get away from other bees. A sting pheromone alerts other bees to sting also. Do not swat at the bees with your hands and arms just run to safety. If you are out in the open you must run for a quarter or half mile to distance yourself from the bees. We will have to learn to live with AHB but there is little difference from EHB.
Would removing the wood trim in the yard and wood fences on the property, all of which are full of indentations and holes from wood bees, solve the wood bee problem without poisoning or otherwise killing the bees. Then, is there a recommendation for what sort of wood to use for fences and wood trim on the ground which divides the front yard areas when we replace the old wood? I realize that painting or varnishing wood is a solution but particularly with the wood trim in the yard, not sure that painted or varnished wood is appropriate or would look right. Is there some treatment to wood, if left unpainted, that would deter the wood bees from re-colonizing the new wood?
How do I eliminate wood bees?
Removing the infested wood and throwing them away could be a good method to get rid of the wood bees. Just to know, the male wood bee is unable to sting. It is the male that is most often noticed. They usually hover in close proximity from people causing unnecessary panic. The female however, is capable of stinging but rarely does. She must be extremely triggered (i.e., touched) before she will sting. So, you may need to wear gloves, pants and long sleeve clothes when removing the infested wood.
Wood bees can be killed by many insecticides, however giving the circumstance that they are close to inhabitable home and the desire is not to use harmful chemicals, there are other alternatives to deal with this problem:
• Wood bees can be killed by spraying the tunnels with aerosol carburetor cleaner. The can of this cleaner usually has an extension straw that can go directly into the tunnel to avoid any spilling.
• Wood bees are extremely sensitive to noise and vibrations. Setting up a soundbox or boombox next to their dwellings can encourage them to leave. They are also get a sense of fear from smoke. Combing the loud sound with some smoke either from a hand held smoker or from a small fire in a pit fire with smoke directed to the tunnel opening can be effective. This method is both safe and no-hassle. Make sure to repeat using this loud noisy until you see no more bees flying around.
• After wood bees have left the nests, stuff their hole with steel-wool. Wood bees can't dig through steel wool, so they can't come back to the old nest. Also, use some wood putty or caulk to patch the spot.
• The entire wood surface should be painted or varnished. Stained wood is not usually protected from attack. The bottom line is that heavier, thicker finishes are best.
What cover crops like mustard are good for reducing Texas root rot? We have a farm near San Simon, AZ
Is there a cover crop to reduce Texas root rot?
There is no evidence of cover crops reducing cotton root rot pathogen in the soil.
My backyard aloes have mites, is it still okay to use the sap on my kitchen burns?
Is it ok to use aloe plants' flesh if it has mites?
Yes, mites just cause the abnormal growth which can be removed and disposed of. Rest of the flesh should be fine
How can I determine if a jar of canned food is sealed?
Cool jars for 12 to 24 hours, remove the screwbands, and test seals with one of the following options:
Press the middle of the lid with a finger or thumb. If the lid springs up when you release your finger, the lid is unsealed.
Tap the lid with the bottom of a teaspoon. If it makes a dull sound, the lid is not sealed. If food is in contact with the underside of the lid, it will also cause a dull sound. If the jar is sealed correctly, it will make a ringing, high-pitched sound.
Hold the jar at eye level and look across the lid. The lid should be concave (curved down slightly in the center). If center of the lid is flat or bulging, it may not be sealed.
I have many green tomatoes different varieties roma, cherry, heirloom - they have been on the vine plants are healthy but tomatoes not ripening.
Why are my tomatoes not ripening?
The problem is likely too much watering. Allow the tomato plant to dry to encourage ripening. Please feel free to review our Pima County Master Gardener tips on tomatoes.
Tips for ripening tomatoes on vines.
Reduce watering. If tomatoes have reached full or nearly full size, cut back on watering to encourage ripening.
Keep the plant dry
Give the plant a trim
Pinch off flowers
Cut away diseased leaves
Pick small fruit
Pick excess fruit
Can you recommend a do-it-yourself product I can acquire to use for killing termites that are eating a large fence post cactus?
How can I eliminate termites on a fence post cactus?
We don’t recommend treating termites that are not causing damage to a home or other built structure.
How do I prune my citrus trees?
The general rule for pruning citrus trees is DON'T. Only prune dead or crossing branches and a wayward branch. Do not prune in the summer; you could leave branches or trunk exposed to the sun which may cause sunburn. Never prune more than 15% at one time.
How do I fertilize my citrus trees?
Citrus are usually fertilized three times a year - For oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit, use 1/3 the recommended annual amount in Jan/Feb, 1/3 in Mar/Apr and 1/3 in May/June. For lemons and limes, use 1/3 the recommended annual amount in Jan/Feb, 1/3 in Mar/Apr and 1/3 in Aug/Sept.. Newly planted trees do not need fertilizer the first 1-2 years. Use Ammonium Sulfate, Ammonium Phosphate or Citrus Food fertilizer. The amount of fertilizer needed per year depends on the age, the size, and the type of tree. For example, a medium-sized adult tree 5-6 years after planting needs 6.2 pounds of Ammonium Sulfate per year (split into three applications). Grapefruit trees 5 or more years after planting need half the amount for other citrus.
I live in Green Valley, AZ, I fed my roses half strength in February . Should I feed them in March ? I did not remove all the leaves as suggested. How will this affect my roses?
Do you have information on how to care for roses in the low desert?
Where can I get my soil tested?
List of laboratories that provide soil, plant, feed, and water testing within the state of Arizona Laboratories Conducting Soil, Plant, Feed, or Water Testing
How prominent is blackhead disease in Pima County? I would like to know what, if any, preventive measures can be taken to protect birds from contracting it.
Is blackhead disease in chickens prominent in Pima County?
It isn’t very prominent in Pima county. The disease is caused by a protozoan that requires a worm host (such as a nematode, earthworm, or the cecal worms of other poultry) to live. Susceptibility depends on the poultry species. Turkeys are extremely susceptible to blackhead, but chickens are fairly resistant. Ducks and geese are almost completely unaffected. Something to consider is that if you have both turkeys AND chickens together, the chickens can harbor the disease in cecal worms and pass it to the turkeys (it is advised to never house or range turkeys in areas that previously housed chickens). However, our dry soils are unlikely to harbor earthworms or nematodes to infect the chickens in the first place.
What are the white spots on my chickens' legs? Could this be an onset of mites or some other disease?
What are the white spots on my chickens' legs?
Looks like the beginnings of scaly leg mites. In the early stages like this they don’t cause problems but they can advance to a point where they are painful to the hens (and they cause some very ugly scale deformations as they burrow into the leg scales). At this early stages my suggestion is to slather her legs in petroleum jelly or something similar fora week for a month or so. That should smother the mites. You should also check your other hens carefully as it is very contagious. If it progresses and the petroleum jelly doesn’t seem to be working on its own oral ivermectin can be used. It can be purchased over the counter but you should consult a vet regarding dosage and withdrawal times for eggs (I know she isn’t laying now, but she will be soon!). It’s a fairly safe product it’s just not specifically approved for use in chickens so dosage/withdrawal times will not be listed on the label. It looks like you caught it early!
I would like some guidance regarding overseeding for winter pasture on the flood irrigated property that I've just purchased. Approx 1acre of pasture for two grazing horses. I'm interested in orchard grass perhaps mixed with winter rye but am told the orchard grass is perennial. I don't know if this would then damage my summer pasture that's already established.
Can I mix orchard grass with rye grass in my horse pasture?
Assuming you have bermudagrass growing in the spring and summer. Tetraploid perennial ryegrass can be planted along with some orchard grass. If you are indeed in Maricopa county, orchard grass won’t survive past the late spring. The forage ryegrasses are quick to establish and will be more productive than strait orchardgrass for the six months you are managing them. If you include forage tall fescue, make sure it does not contain the endophyte fungus (good for a lawn, bad for pasture). The tall fescue pasture grass will be sold and noted as “ ENDOPHYTE FREE” which means it has no endophyte.
If canned foods have been frozen during storage, are they safe to eat?
Freezing does not cause food spoilage unless the seal is damaged or the jar is broken. These often happen as the food expands during freezing. Frozen foods, however, may be less palatable than properly stored canned food. In an unheated storage place, protect canned foods by wrapping the jars in paper or covering them with a blanket.
I live in Prescott Valley and have a Red Delicious tree whose apple crop was totally wiped out by codling moth(?). Every apple had a worm inside. I've sprayed with a dormant spray but do not know how to proceed from there. Is there a non toxic spray that I can use to prevent the worms? Do you have a recommendation as to where I can go to get some answers on how to control this problem ?
How can I eliminate the codling moth from my red delicious apple tree?
If pine needles makes an acid soil, are there certain plants that do not like having them used as mulch around them? We had grape vines die because they were close to pine trees. Now at our home here we have a peach and plum tree close by. Use them for mulch or not?
Also, Would it help our pine tree to keep a layer of needles under it out to it's drip line to keep moisture in, or does it not help or harm the tree.
Do pine needles make the soil acidic for mulch?
You can use pine needles as mulch around anything you would like. It takes years for the pH in the needles to change the soil and by then, the tannins are gone.
You would have to use very large quantities of pine needles to effect the soil pH. It will help your pine tree hold its water very well.
The fruit looks fine externally, is actually a little bigger than usual, & the peel comes off easily like it is supposed to. However, a large percentage of the fruits are dry and pithy.
Why is the fruit on our tangerine tree dry and pithy?
There are a number of possibilities that may cause dry, pithy fruit on your tangerine tree. I do not know your irrigation schedule, but with our rather dry years that we have had, you may need some supplemental water. During the summer, established citrus trees should be watered deeply (to a depth of 3 feet) every 10-14 days. I have added an attachement below that may be of help on this matter. The problem could also be the late harvest of the fruit, or the rootstock on which your tangerine was grafted (tangerines are especially susceptible). This may no happen every year. Cold weather, or exceptionally hot fall weather can also be a culprit. Experts recommend that good cultivation practices can help reduce the problem. This would include fertilization, early harvest and irrigation.
Recommended Publications: Citrus Fertilization Chart, Citrus Irrigation
Which method of canning do I use to can tomatoes
Canned food can safely be recanned if the unsealed jar is discovered within 24 hours. To re-can, remove the lid and check the jar sealing surface for tiny nicks. Change the jar; if necessary, add a new treated lid and reprocess using the same processing time.
I have a backyard full of sedge nut grass. There is very little real grass left. I understand it is very difficult to get rid of sedge nut grass. Can I use a herbicide or do I have to remove the top 6 inches of soil or what is best solution so I can replace with Bermuda grass.
How do I remove Purple Nutsedge from my lawn?
You more than likely have purple nutsedge infesting your lawn. I assume that you have bermudagrass and will you be overseeding it with ryegrass for the winter? If so, now is the time to do so and I would suggest that you prep and drop seed.
If not, now is the nearing the end of the season to use an herbicide, SedgeHammer, Monument, or Certainty. All 3 work well when applied first around the 4th of July followed by a second application in mid-August at 4-6 weeks later. A single application now while its still warm and the sedge is growing will enable the herbicide to penetrate the leaves and to be moved to the roots and developing tubers that will grow next summer. The herbicide should reduce the ability of the “baby” tubers to develop and reduce next year’s crop. The process will take 3-4 years of diligent effort.
In the spring, when the nutsedge begins to appear in March or so, keep putting stress on it by frequent mowing to cut off the new emerging leaves. Water the lawn enough to grow it as nutsedge loves water and wet soils. There is an article available but what I’ve described above should suffice for the lawn treatment.
Can alfalfa be planted in the spring?
Alfalfa can be planted in the spring, but forage yield is less over the life of the stand compared to late summer and fall plantings.
How do I kill sewer roaches in the kitchen effectively and safely. They are living in my kitchen utensil drawers. I just got rid of my organic food clippings container. Will 2-Mule Team Borax work well? Or do I need to get sewer reach coaches? What's best?
How do I kill sewer roaches in the kitchen effectively and safely.
Roaches require a multi-pronged approach. Cleaning up as you are doing a good first step. Generally, they are around because there is food, water, and shelter available. Cleaning up can help reduce these resources. Roach motels are excellent for monitoring the population to see if your efforts are helping. Borax sprinkled in the drawers or cabinets is not as effective as mixing up a solution of borax and sugar in water. Roaches drink a lot of water and sugar makes it more attractive so the combination left in shallow containers where you find them is helpful.
What causes jars to break in a canner?
Breakage can occur for several reasons:
Using commercial food jars rather than jars manufactured for home canning
Using jars that have hairline cracks
Putting jars directly on bottom of canner instead of on a rack
Putting hot foods in cold jars
Putting jars of raw of unheated food directly into boiling water in the canner rather, than hot water (sudden change in temperature-too wide a margin between temperature of filled jars and water in canner before processing).
Thermal shock is characterized by a crack running around the base of the lower part of the jar, sometimes extending up the side. To prevent thermal breakage:
Avoid sudden temperature changes, such as putting hot food in a cold jar, putting a cold jar in hot water, or placing a hot jar on a cool or wet surface. Keep jars in hot water until filled.
Use a rack in the canner.
Avoid using metal knives or spatulas to remove air bubbles or steel wool pads to clean jars.
Internal pressure break is characterized by the origin of the break on the side. It is in the form of a vertical crack that divides and forks into two fissures. To prevent pressure breaks:
Provide adequate headspace in jars for food to expand when heated.
Keep heat steady during processing.
Avoid reducing canner pressure under running water or lifting the pressure control or petcock before pressure drops to zero.
Impact breaks originate at the point of impact and fissures radiate from the point of contact.To prevent impact breaks:
Handle jars carefully. Jars that have been dropped, hit, or bumped are susceptible to breakage. Test new jars that may have been mishandled (to see if they break) by immersing them in room-temperature water, bring to a boil, and boil 15 minutes.
Avoid the use of metal tools to remove air bubbles.
Avoid using old jars. Jars have a life expectancy of about 10 years.
Who is in charge of plant/pest quarantine rules?
The Arizona Department of Agriculture Plant Services Division regulates plant quarantine within the state. Information can be found at:https://agriculture.az.gov/plants/plant-services-laws-regulations The USDA has responsibility on plants imported or exported internationally into or from Arizona. More information can be found at: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/importexport
My plant's leaves have brown edges. What is the problem?
Brown edges are often a sign of salt damage; the salt contents in our tap water can cause the damage and is often compounded by insufficient water. Thoroughly water the plant (shrubs to 2 feet deep; trees to 3 feet deep) to leach excess salts away from the roots.
I have been told that it is good to give the Bermuda grass a break from overseeding so it can come back stronger and roots and be more entrenched. That it is recommended not to overseed every 3 years or so. Is this true?
Overseeding Bermuda Grass
It is suggested that giving bermudagrass turf an “off” year from overseeding is beneficial. The yearly preparations of “scalping” and having ryegrass compete with the bermudagrass turf is stressful. Generally, turf experts advocate for providing bermudagrass 100 days of good growing conditions in the summer. Ideally, overseeding in mid-October and eliminating ryegrass in May/June would give 100 days in the summer. However ryegrasses tend to hang on longer and overseeding is done earlier into September. Therefore, providing bermudagrass a whole season of unimpeded growth from early spring when green up starts in Feb/Mar through the summer until Thankgsiving when the first frosts occur offers the roots a great chance to grow vigorously and get nice and thick for the next year.
Overseeding Winter Grasses into Bermudagrass Turf
Tips for Overseeding Turf
I lost a Palo Verde tree last year due to borer beetles and root deterioration. Now, I'm afraid to lose my Mesquite! I am seeing what may be the same type of "divets" in the gravel around the Mesquite!
Will borer beetles kill my mesquite tree?
Generally a healthy tree resists borer beetles well. However trees that are stressed due to irrigation, damage, or improper pruning can be subject to pests.
Mesquite and Palo Verde Trees for Urban Landscape - learn more about beetles and other information on native trees
Care of Desert - Adapted Plants - great reference for proper pruning
How do I keep my chickens cool in the summer?
There are a few things you can do to keep your chickens comfortable. Here are a few tips from out livestock expert:
Make sure there's shade, and cool water available.
Make 'frozen treats', like frozen fruit available
Avoid 'scratch grains' in high temperatures (when it's hot, chickens should be eating less, also 'scratch grains' are not high in nutritional value)
Install an inexpensive mister system (some hardware stores sell them for as llittle as $12)
Lightly spray down the floor of the coop (as long as it's something like sand, not dirt, which creates mud)
Head to our Poultry Resource Page for more information.
How do I prepare an insect or a plant damaged by insects for shipping and where do I send it for identification?
Insect samples can be submitted as specimens or digital images. Please follow the instruction by the University of Arizona Insect Collection: https://www.uainsectcollection.com/instructions-for-submitting-samples.html.
Besides a health certificate, are there any other requirements for bringing my horse into Arizona?
Yes. All horses six months of age and older require a negative test for Equine Infectious Anemia (Coggins test or CELISA) within 12 months prior to importation. The test result, date of test, lab name and lab accession number must be recorded on the health certificate. Horses may not enter with the test results pending. Changes in Arizona's laws in August 2002 created a voluntary horse registration program.There is no penalty if you choose not to participate.
Where can I find information about how to construct a raised gardening bed and how to plant and water raised gardening beds?
Raised Bed Gardening
- Ten Steps to Successful Vegetable Gardening
- Ten Steps to Successful Vegetable Gardening - Video
- Raised Bed Gardening - Yavapai County
- Growing Cacti in Raised Beds - Blog, Rick Gibson Pinal County Cooperative Extension Agent
What is the optimum planting date for alfalfa?
October (<3000 ft), September (3000 to 6000 ft), August (>6000 ft)
Can I grow raspberries successfully in Catalina? Do we get enough freeze for them?
Can I grow raspberries successfully in Catalina?
It is very difficult to grow raspberries in this area. They really are not well-adapted here because they have a high winter-chill requirement. Blackberries are easier but only varieties Rosborough, Womack or Brison do well.
Recommended Publication- Growing Blackberries in the Low Desert
How do I become a licensed pesticide applicator in Arizona?
The Arizona Department of Agriculture Pest Management Division regulates the use, disposal and storage of pesticides. Information about their function and licensing is found at https://agriculture.az.gov/pests-pest-control
Why is headspace important in canning?
Headspace is the distance between the surface of food and the underside of the lid. Leaving the specified amount of headspace in a jar is important to assure a vacuum seal. If too little headspace is allowed the food may expand and bubble out when air is being forced out from under the lid during processing. The bubbling food may leave a deposit on the rim of the jar or the seal of the lid and prevent the jar from sealing properly. If too much headspace is allowed, the food at the top is likely to discolor. Also, the jar may not seal properly because there will not be enough processing time to drive all the air out of the jar.
What causes vertical cracks on a saguaro cactus?
Vertical cracks running up and down between the ribs of a saguaro cactus, such as is seen in this photo, are sure signs of over watering. The central spongy core is the location within the plant where water is stored for future use. The hard wooden ribs that give strength to the plant are just under the spine covered ridges. The soft tissue in the "valley" between the ribs allows the plant to expand and contract as stored water levels increase or decrease depending upon plant water use and drought conditions. It is possible for the plant to absorb more water than it can hold. When this happens, the tissue in the valley can crack and pop open like an over ripe watermelon. In southern Arizona, rainfall alone rarely will cause this problem. If you have a saguaro with this kind of damage, look around and see if you can find the source where the saguaro is getting water. Then, you will need to help it get back on a proper water budget. Keep in mind that the saguaro can send out roots for some distance. The actual source of water may be several yards away. In this case, the definition of yard means your yard, your neighbor's yard, and maybe even the neighbor's yard beyond that.
Which alfalfa variety should I plant in the low desert of Arizona?
Plant a nondormant variety with a dormancy class of 8, 9, or 10 for the low elevation deserts. Choose a variety with appropriate pest resistance characteristics. Test new varieties in strips or small areas on your farm. Do not plant more than 25% of your acreage to a new variety. Use certified seed. Obtain "Nondormant Alfalfa Varieties for Arizona, 2001" from your local Cooperative Extension office for pest resistance characteristics and yield trial results.
Where can I find fertilizer recommendations for a soil tests? I am specifically looking for a grapefruit tree soil analysis. Also, do you have any phosphorus-response research on citrus (esp. grapefruit)?
Where can I find fertilizer recommendations for grapefruit trees?
We do have some fertilizer recommendations and they vary depending on if you are a homeowner or a grower. In the case of the homeowner, the recommendations are based on many years of experience, rather than on soil tests, since most homeowners do not have their soil tested.
Recommended publication: Citrus Fertilization Chart for Arizona
Most growers base their fertilizer applications on leaf tests, rather than soil tests, since the soil in the citrus growing area is sandy and any fertilizer applied will quickly be carried below the root zone by the flood irrigation water.
How can I become a Certified Landscape Professional in Arizona?
The Arizona Landscape Contractors’ Association (https://www.azlca.com/) supports the Arizona Certified Landscape Professional Program. Classes cover ten topics and class schedules and workshop details are posted at https://www.azlca.com/aclp
What is the optimum seeding rate for alfalfa?
20 pounds of seed per acre.
I have a gardening question and I live in Maricopa County
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org They should get back to you with a response within five to seven days. Master Gardener hotline: (602) 827-8201 Maricopa County Cooperative Extension office: (602) 827-8200
We have had a lot of rodents where we live in the Tucson Mts but this year seems to be particlarly bad for small rodents that seem to be of the pocket mouse variety, possibly the Arizona or Baileys pocket mouse or maybe even a type of kangaroo rat. This year they have been inside the yard walls burrowing under plants or sometimes even in the open. The entrances are about 1 1/2 or 2 inches across and go straight down.
How can we control small rodent population around our home?
There are a few things you can do to keep these little critters out of your yard, and I'm betting you have tried some of them already ...
1. Rodents take over in places where there is food, water, shelter, and/or mates. Since your yard is landscaped, I'm guessing that you may have drippers for your plants, nice shady spots where they can relax, and maybe even some snacks for them (insects or seeds, depending on which rodents you have). So the first thing you can do is to block any and all entrances to your yard with above AND below ground fencing. Once the fence is in the ground, you can work on eliminating the animals that are inside.
2. If you are not able to set up an exclusionary fence, then you could try deterrents. One of the best ways to deter animals is to give them a food source that's going to make them sick. If you give them something that will kill them, then their friends will move in. If you give them something that will make them sick, they will leave and tell their friends not to visit (usually). Normally, deterrents that work against other senses by using sound machines or visual cues don't work for very long.
3. Another tactic is to use natural predators. You mentioned that there are no snakes or coyotes out doing their jobs nearby so that means you will need to bring some predators in. One of the absolute most effective ways to keep rodents away is to encourage a predatory bird to set up shop in your yard or very nearby. Barn owls, for example, specialize in eating rodents, and will eat hundreds of them in a month. That number rises exponentially if you get a whole family of them to settle down in your area. There are a lot of resources available on the internet describing how to attract barn owls to your location. Another option is you could take in a couple of feral cats from your local humane society - since they are unadoptable, their only way out of the shelter is to be a barn cat/rodent hunter or euthanasia. This way you could save a couple of cats and your yard at the same time.
4. Some people have tried using mountain lion urine to deter rodents. It works, but you need to apply it often so this wouldn't be my first choice, and I definitely wouldn't use it as a single deterrent on its own. However, it's a good extra step you can take along with some other measures to complement your efforts.
5. The final option that I have for you is lethal trapping. You mentioned that you haven't had much luck with snap traps, but I encourage you to keep at it, especially if you have implemented an exclusionary device like a fence. Another lethal option is something like the Gopher X Pest Control System. It's pricey but I know someone who used it and he swears by it. The key is to plug up all the holes before you release the carbon monoxide. If done properly, it shouldn't hurt your plants and you won't have to dispose of the animals.
How can I become a Certified Nursery Professional in Arizona?
The Arizona Nursery Association (https://azna.org) offers the Arizona Certified Nursery Professional (ACNP) and the Advanced Arizona Nursery Professional Program. Inquire at their website https://azna.org/certifications/ about study materials and classes.
Where can I get my hay tested?
Dairyland Laboratories provides nutrient values of feedstuffs like hay. Here is a direct link to their sample submission form
I have a gardening question and I live in Cochise County
University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Cochise County Master Gardeners Phone: 520-458-8278, ext. 2141
Ask a Master Gardener: https://cals.arizona.edu/cochise/mg/ask-master-gardener
Where can I find information about rabies and horses?
Recommended Publication : https://extension.arizona.edu/pubs/rabies-arizona-equine-risk-and-preven...
How can I become a Certified Arborist?
Information about the International Society of Arboriculture certification program can be found at the ISA website http://www.isa-arbor.com/ Classes in Arizona are generally sponsored by the Arizona State Land Department Urban Community Forestry Program and the Arizona Community Tree Council, Inc. (http://aztrees.org/). Certification exams are offered in different locations in the state. Some counties offer preparatory classes and give the Certified Arborist Exam at the conclusion of classes. Contact the Arizona Community Tree Council.
I live in New River within Maricopa County. I am wondering what the best time is to apply pre-emergent to my property? I have two acres of desert and know from experience that the winter rains can result in extensive weeds come Spring and want to try to avoid this. Also, I have been using the standard orange pre-emergent that one gets from the home stores. Is there something that might be better at preventing weeds that I can purchase, and where can I obtain it?
When is the best time to apply pre-emergent for weeds?
The use of pre-emergence residual herbicide provides a foundation for season-long weed management, along with tillage and other chemical management practices. It’s recommended to use pre-emergence when temperature are high enough for seed to take water, but before any germination. In Central Arizona, the end of fall and beginning of spring are the optimum times to use pre-emergence herbicides. But again, it’s judgment based on the temperature and amount of rain in certain areas. With above normal rain we received this summer/fall I would expect you have many emerged weeds in your property right now. If this is the case, and beside preemergence, you will need also to deal with these weeds using post-emergence herbicides. Near the end of wither when it starts to warm up, and before any germination, you’ll need to apply pre-emergence again.
Beside standard orange pre-emergence, there are dinitroaniline (DNA or “yellow”) products that are helpful in delay or avoid developing herbicide resistant weed populations. Most of herbicides can be found at some retailers like Bug and Weed Mart, and some agrochemical companies like Helena, Fertizona and Wilbur-Ellis.
With some weed resistant to Roundup and other postemergence herbicides in central Arizona, it requires the use of a diverse chemicals for weed control tactics.
Our emory oak trees are dropping a clear sticky substance, when on the ground looks like little pieces of glass. What is it? It sticks to the feet of our dogs and then little stones stick to that - it is a big mess.
What is the clear sticky substance dropping from my emory oak tree?
It sounds like the sticky substance is honey dew that is excreted in large volumes from the kermes scale. Kermes scale are tan, globular, and hard. They are easily mistaken for galls or buds. Oak is the only host. This species is not particularly injurious to host trees, but, if necessary, treat crawlers between late May
and mid-July or use a dormant oil in April.
Scale insects feed on plant sap. They have long, threadlike mouthparts that are six to eight times longer
than the insect itself. Scale feeding slowly reduces plant vigor; heavily infested plants grow poorly and may suffer
dieback of twigs and branches. An infested host is occasionally so weakened that it dies. Scales often secrete a sticky honeydew that is attractive to wasps and ants and which supports the growth of black sooty molds.
Scale insects are generally controlled by natural enemies, including tiny parasitic wasps and predators such as ladybugs. It is
very common for ladybugs to move onto a plant with a growing scale infestation. Before deciding on a treatment, look for adult
and immature ladybugs on plants. Dormant oil treatments can be used against almost all scale problems and are generally applied in
very early spring, before bud break. Summer oils can also be very effective against most scales, but as with dormant oils, some plants are
sensitive to these treatments. Check labels to make sure the plant is not harmed by the treatment being considered. Most other
insecticides, including insecticidal soaps, can be used only against the mobile crawler stage of scales since adult scales are protected from
insecticides by a waxy covering. These treatments are very effective, but must be carefully timed as crawlers are only active for a
You may have to look closely at the tree to see if you find scale.
The bark on the Sumac and Jacaranda trees in my yard is coming off in sheets. So far the trees have not girdled and are still green. Where can I go to find answers or treatment?
Why is the bark on my Sumac and Jacaranda trees coming off in sheets?
Generally, when the bark comes off trees it is because the trees are getting sunburned. The bark on African sumac and jacaranda is thin and can sunburn easily when exposed to full sun especially during the summer months. Citrus trees that are pruned up exposing the bark to the full sun can easily sunburn and the bark will creak and peel off. Paining the bark of trees that have thin bark that is exposed to the full sun can help. There is a paint made for this purpose or you can use a light colored latex paint that has been thinned with water. Thick full-strength paint can block the pores of the bark. There may be other reasons that the bark is coming off.
Recommended Extension Article: Sunscald of Trees
What variety of apple trees would you recommend to plant at about a 6000 foot elevation? It does occasionally get down to 0 degrees during the winter. We are NW of Prescott, AZ.
What variety of apple trees would you recommend to plant at about a 6000 foot elevation?
Backyard Fruit Production at Elevations 3500 to 6000 Feet
Where can I find information about the Campus Arboretum Tours?
Learn the history and the heritage of Arizona's oldest University. Follow our guides as they show you beautiful places and tell you fascinating facts about the growth and development of the University, and how it came out of the sands of the Sonoran Desert to become the jewel of Arizona!
RSVP by sending your name, the number of guests in your group and the tours you are interested in attending to: email@example.com
How can I treat Sooty Canker on a grapefruit tree?
I bought some Tulips from the grocery store. First, will they bloom again next year? When should I plant them? Where should I store them in the mean time?
How do I care for Tulips in Arizona?
It sounds like they did bloom this year. They may bloom next year. Once the leaves turn yellow
you can dig up the bulbs and wrap them in newspaper and store them in the vegetable drawer of your
refrigerator. If you do not dig them up they will not survive the summer. The soil will get too hot and they
will literaly "cook" in the ground.
Plant them in the fall around November.
I want to add a cherry tree and a peach tree. For the cherry I am looking for sweet. For the peach I need self pollinated and late blooming. I have a wonderful white peach (name unknown) now but it blooms so early I loose all the fruit to late freezes. I am north of Prescott (North Williamson Valley). Please recommend any options that will likely work for my needs . Should I plant now or wait until spring?
When should I plant fruit trees in Prescott Arizona Area?
I would wait until next spring to purchase and plant. Our Yavapai County Extension Director conducts a fruit tree pruning workshop, usually in February, that is open to the public. It includes what to do when you plant fruit trees. If you would like to be put on distribution to receive notification about that and other workshops we provide please let me know. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Recommended publication that includes information on sweetness and seasons.
Backyard Fruit Production at Elevations 3500 to 6000 Feet
We have tif bermuda grass and are trying to figure out the best way to water. Looking to you as an expert to give me guidance on how to water. Frequency, length, etc. Would like fertilizing tips also.
What is the best way to water and fertilize bermuda grass?
The Arizona Republic provides a lawn watering guide each day on its weather page. To determine how much water should be applied to a lawn, a UA Meteorological Network (AZMET) lawn watering guide that supports the weather page guide provides information about determining the amount. First thing to do is make sure that all of the sprinkler heads in the automated system are fitted with the same type of nozzle that delivers the same amount of water across the lawn. This can be confirmed by using the “catch can” technique. This will ensure that there will not be dry spots or “donuts” caused by inefficient coverage. Once the uniformity and distribution is determined, the amount and frequency can be applied following the daily guide. Generally, about one-half pound per 1000 sq ft of nitrogen can be applied monthly during the actively growing months (May-Sept). That will be about 2-1/2 lb of ammonium sulfate (21-0-0) or 1 lb of urea per 1000 sq ft of the lawn.
I am looking for help with a bed bug infestation. I can not afford to have my rental home professionally treated and have tried several times to bomb it with bed bug bombs as well as sprays and powders but it's getting worse. I believe these we're already in the home when we moved in but I wasn't aware until several months later as I didn't know anything about them. Is there any place that can help us?
How can I get help with bed bugs in our rental home?
There is no financial assistance or group that will provide free remediation. However, if you are renting, the property manager is responsible for the remediation costs (unless the tenant signed a bed bug lease amendment stating otherwise).Recommended publications:
Practical Methods for Controlling Bed Bugs at Home
Working the Bugs Out: Bed Bug Control - What Landlords and Tenants in Multi-Family Housing Need to Know in Arizona
Preventing and Treating Bed Bugs: What You Should Know
Where can I get my pressure cooker gauge and seal tested if I live in Pima County?
You can contact the Pima County Cooperative Extension office at 520-626-5161 and ask to speak with a Master Consumer Advisor or contact the Pima County Cooperative Extension Master Consumer Advisors at email@example.com
What causes lids not to seal?
Failure of lids to seal may be caused by one or more of the following:
A chip on the rim of the jar.
Failure to follow manufacturer’s directions for preparing flats.
Presence of food particles on jar rim. Always wipe rim clean before putting on lids.
Leaving too little headspace, letting pressure in pressure canner fluctuate, or lowering the pressure too suddenly. In all of these cases, food particles may be forced between the jar and lid, causing sealing failure.
Leaving too much headspace may prevent sealing because the processing time was not long enough to exhaust all the air from the inside of the jar.
Not removing air bubbles can have the same effect as leaving too much headspace.
Putting screwbands on too tightly.
Tightening screwbands after removing jars from canner.
Reusing lids. Use flat metal lids only once.
Using commercial or one-trip jars, such as for mayonnaise, peanut butter, or baby food. These jars have slightly different sizes of sealing edges and are not recommended from home canning.
Where can I get my pressure cooker gauge and seal tested if I live in Maricopa County?
Call Barbara Ashford, Administrative Assistant, Maricopa EFNEP & SNAP-Ed 602-827-8223
She will schedule time for you drop off lid and gauge
Cost is $5.00
Process takes 5-10 minutes
Please note....you can drop off or wait for lid and gauge to be tested
How long will canned food keep?
Properly canned food stored in a cool, dry place will retain optimum eating quality for at least 1 year. Canned food stored in a warm place near hot pipes, a range, a furnace, or in indirect sunlight may lose some of its eating quality in a few weeks or months, depending on the temperature. Dampness may corrode cans or metal lids and cause leakage so the food will spoil.
What is oleander gall?
- Rough, fissured growths on twigs, branches, leaves, flowers, and seedpods, often appearing in chains. Galls start out as small bumps and grow into wart-like growths generally between 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter. Large galls may actually be several small galls that have grown together.
- These galls are the result of growth of the bacteria Pseudomonas syringae inside the plant. The bacteria can enter the plant through wounds caused by pruning, frost damage or other injury or through natural openings in the leaf, blossom and stem. Water can carry the bacteria from diseased plants to healthy ones in the splash from rain or sprinklers. The bacteria is also moved from infected plants to healthy ones by unsuspecting gardeners on their pruning tools.
Prevention: Inspect oleanders carefully prior to purchase, do not buy plants that have galls.
Management: Remove the galls by pruning several inches below. Treat each cut with 10% bleach solution. Dip pruning tools in a 10% bleach solution between EACH cut to reduce the possibility of spreading the bacteria. Bag and discard cuttings. Do not compost diseased plant material.
Prune during the dry seasons to avoid infection of wounds. Avoid sprinkler irrigation while pruning wounds are fresh.
Severe infection of large shrubs is difficult to control by selective pruning. Even if you cut down the entire shrub, the new succulent growth will still be extremely susceptible to infection. In certain situations, removal of the diseased plant and replanting may be the best method of control.
Does the Pima County Cooperative Extension office sell soil probes?
Yes, you can visit the Pima County Cooperative Extension office (4210 N Campbell Ave. Tucson, AZ 85719) between 8:30am-4:30pm to purchase a soil probe. Cost is $6.00 If you have questions you can also call their office at 520-626-5161
Can you please look at my oleander plant and let me know what is wrong with my oleander plant.
What is wrong with my oleander plant?
Your Oleander plant has gall bacteria.
Rough, fissured growths on twigs, branches, leaves, flowers, and seedpods, often appearing in chains. Galls start out as small bumps and grow into wart-like growths generally between 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter. Large galls may actually be several small galls that have grown together.
These galls are the result of growth of the bacteria Pseudomonas syringae inside the plant. The bacteria can enter the plant through wounds caused by pruning, frost damage or other injury or through natural openings in the leaf, blossom and stem. Water can carry the bacteria from diseased plants to healthy ones in the splash from rain or sprinklers. The bacteria is also moved from infected plants to healthy ones by unsuspecting gardeners on their pruning tools.
Prevention: Inspect oleanders carefully prior to purchase, do not buy plants that have galls.
Management: Remove the galls by pruning several inches below. Treat each cut with 10% bleach solution. Dip pruning tools in a 10% bleach solution between EACH cut to reduce the possibility of spreading the bacteria. Bag and discard cuttings. Do not compost diseased plant material.
Prune during the dry seasons to avoid infection of wounds. Avoid sprinkler irrigation while pruning wounds are fresh. Severe infection of large shrubs is difficult to control by selective pruning. Even if you cut down the entire shrub, the new succulent growth will still be extremely susceptible to infection. In certain situations, removal of the diseased plant and replanting may be the best method of control.
I have a peach tree needing 1000 chill hours. It is a Reliance peach.
What are the chill hours in Arizona?
This UA Cooperative Extension publication titled "Deciduous Fruit & Nuts for the Low Desert" provides chill hour information for fruit trees.
Planting fruit trees with chill hours of:
- 600-800 for Verde Area
- 750-1000 for Prescott Area