The Value of Christmas Trees

"...there is no reason why the joy associated with the Christmas evergreen may not be a means of arousing in the minds of children an appreciation of the beauty and usefulness of trees; and keen appreciation of the beauty and usefulness of trees is a long stop toward the will to plant and care for them (Arthur Sowder, US Forest Service, 1949)."

Friday, May 28, 2010

Update on Organic

On February 1, I gave an update on the organic demonstration in Alleghany County. Since then, I've evaluated tree mortality over the past year. In all, only a handful of trees have died -- the same amount in both the organic and "late organic" sections. (Remember that the "late organic" trees are being grown with conventional use of fertilizers and Roundup, then switching to organic practices in 2011).

The trees are all growing now, and Bryan and I made some additional observations just last week. The following are some of our observations.

This photo was taken last week. Bryan had weed eat (is that a verb?) about half of the organic section. The organic trees vary quite a bit in quality. Some trees look great -- growing just as well as those in the "late organic" which is very encouraging. Others look, well, rather puny. Some of these are clear in this picture. The "late organic" trees are at the bottom of the field (top of the photo) and are much more uniform -- except where the deer got them!

By and large the major ground cover around the organic trees is grass. That's what Bryan is chopping down, and it took him more than 2 hour to finish just 1/4 acre. We figure it will need to be mowed again in mid-summer with a clean-up in the fall. We might also have to come in when problem weeds such as spotted knapweed are flowering to keep them from going to seed. We're also considering going back in and removing the chopped weeds from the ground cloth around each seedlings so it won't decompose and provide a site for weeds to germinate. All in all, an acre of organic trees will end up costing quite a bit in labor for weed control.

The other issue with using a weed eater? Injury. To the right is one of the trees that bit the dust. Bryan is afraid that every time someone does this, as least 1 or 2 trees will be injured. Over the years, that will add up.

In the "late organic" there isn't nearly as much grass. There's lots of clover, and also lots of mustard blooming a bit earlier. However, there are also a lot of thistles which they tried to hit with the Roundup. Both areas still have quite a bit of poison ivy which a problem for me especially! So neither section is perfect when it comes to weed control, but that's farming!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

End of May Explosions

Rust Mites. Bryan Davis has seen in a few fields a real upsurge of rust mites in the last few weeks. With the cooler weather, and especially cool nights, rust mites are remaining active. Some of the fields that only had a few rust mites in them a month ago are getting damage now. So if you haven't been in your trees lately and the field is prone to rust mites, it might be a good idea to check and see if rust mite numbers have exploded.

Should these fields be treated now? That should be decided on an individual case basis. The weather should be warming up soon, but as long as the nights stay cool, rust mites will continue to be active. Only treat now if mite numbers and damage truly warrant it.

Twig Aphids.  Also, there have been a few fields that weren't treated for twig aphids this spring because of fall treatments that twig aphid numbers seemed to explode in. A month ago, there weren't any twig aphids, but now there is some damage.

This spring allowed the few aphids that did survive a chance to quickly reproduce. However, with all the wet weather, the trees are growing so well that much of that needle curl will be grown out of. So it is nothing to treat for, but only to be aware of.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Algae Treatments

Just got finished putting out materials for algae. There are 2 plots -- one in Avery and one in Mitchell. The initial treatments were made the first part of May. Today Jerry and I made a second treatment of the Kocide in one plot, and also treated some trees with the new growth out.

With all this rain and cool weather, I'm thinking that we might have a lot of algae in trees again this year! I'll keep everyone posted on the results, but it will probably be August before we know anything.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spring Rush & Rosette Bud Mite Treatment

Sometimes kids seem in such a hurry to grow up. It seems like that's the way it is with this spring! All at once, all the Fraser fir buds are breaking everywhere. Hope no one got any frost earlier this week.

I just wanted to remind folks that if you have to treat your trees for rosette bud mites, you might end up treating earlier this year than you usually do. You want to wait until ALL THE TREES in the block have broken bud. But  theses late breakers, might be all out by the end of next week instead of into June. Let your trees be your guide.

A singe treatment of either Dimethoate or Mavrik will control the rosette bud mites. For more information see: Rosette Bud Mite on Fraser Fir -- CTN 018A.