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)."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ways to Put Out Safari

On Friday, Jeff Vance and I tried putting out Safari in some Christmas trees. We used either a backpack sprayer with a hollow cone nozzle, or a high pressure sprayer. With either sprayer, we were targeting the lower 10 inches of the trunk.

Unfortunately, I think the application was uneven. On some trees, there was good coverage all around the trunk. This is important because only when the entire trunk is encircled with spray will the entire tree get a dose of the chemical. But on other trees, the entire trunk was not completely covered.

Jerry Moody also tried applying Safari to his trees. In his case, he targeted the entire trunk of the tree, treating from both sides, and not just the base. He ended up using more water but he made a more dilute spray to target 1 pound of Safari per acre. And he thought he was getting excellent coverage, as well as moving quickly through the trees.

Next month when Jeff and I spray, I think we will compare different application methods of Safari using a high pressure sprayer -- treating just the bottom 10 inches, treating the entire trunk, and treating all the foliage lightly -- like a balsam twig aphid spray. That way we can find the quickest, easiest method of application. We hope to have this field on the NCCTA summer tour next year in 2012.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Getting the Most out of Safari

On Monday and Tuesday I was applying the active ingredient, dinotefuran (aka Safari), to hemlock trees for hemlock woolly adelgid control. Learning how well this works should help with elongate hemlock scale control in Fraser fir, so even though this project isn't related to Christmas trees, I think it's still important.

The label for the trunk application with Safari has a range of rates from 12 to 24 ounces per gallon. However, in other literature that the chemical company, Valent, puts out, it says just to use the 12 ounces per gallon rate, so that is what I did on Monday when I treated hemlocks by myself at a site in McDowell and on Tuesday when I worked with NC Forest Service folks, Brian Heath and Craig Lawings treating trees at the Crossnore Nursery in Avery County.

The label also says that one gallon should treat about 40-50 inches cumulative trunk diameter. Therefore, one quart would treat a 10-inch diameter tree. However, it also says to treat until run-off. When I applied the product on Monday, I was treating until run-off and ended up treating about 100 cumulative inch trunk diameter -- or twice as much. We'll see if well it works. On Tuesday we tried to stick to one gallon treating 40 inches. The first thing we did was calibrate to see how long it took to spray out an ounce. This photo shows Craig spraying and Brian keeping track of time.

With the sprayer he had, it took about 9 seconds to spray out an ounce. Therefore on most trees we treated, Craig sprayed between 2-4 minutes on a single tree trunk. This photo is a close-up of the bark of a good sized tree after treatment. You can see the foamy bubbles of the chemical on the trunk.

You are supposed to treat all the trunk including the root flares to about 5 foot. This photo shows a tree trunk after treatment. These trees were previously measured and marked by Brian and Craig -- you can see the metal tag on this tree with the identification number.

One question we had was if the chemical would be taken up well by trees with a lot of lichen as is shown in this photo. We tried to make note of trees with exceptional amounts of lichen so we can follow them over the coming months.

Here is a photo of Craig spraying as well as a video. Many of these trees are right on the Linville River. This is a recommended treatment for trees near surface water as you are just spraying the trunk of the tree and not the soil.

A link to Joe Chamberlin from Valent applying the trunk application is found here. The video is on YouTube and is for emerald ashe borer, but it is the same basic method.

Many of the trees we treated on Tuesday were hard to get to. Brian had to get out a machete and hack a path to the tree then hack around the tree so Craig could get to it with his sprayer. That's why it's a new kind of hack and squirt!

These trees aren't doing well. We'll see if the material can bring them back. This photo shows the state of some of the trees as seen from the highway.

We did more than 30 trees on Tuesday. Brian and Craig will end up treating more than 70 trees this spring. That will give us a percentage of how successful we end up being! The trees I treated on Monday are in a bit better shape. This photo shows some of them taken last summer. But then I also used about 1/2 the recommended rate, so that will also be interesting to follow. I treated close to 30 trees on Monday.

As usual, I will post additional results and observations as they become available.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I'm surprised how many spruce spider mites I'm seeing this spring, considering how wet it's been. I have been in several fields where individual trees were absolutely cover in mites.

This terminal is covered up in spider mites and their eggs. There is even some webbing between the needles which is where spider mites got their name.

This shot shows my fingers after handling the mite covered terminal. This is the color of squished mites!

These trees were at the site of our organic study. I think I will treat them all sometime in the next few weeks. What's complicating this is that the new growth is out. I'm afraid I'll burn them which is why I'm going to hold off a few weeks.

The final shot I'm posting today shows the difference in the ground covers between the organically grown trees, which are full of grass, and the "late" organic trees that are still being grown conventionally with Roundup use. We will switch to organic production the last three years before sale.

The organic is in the background, and that's where Brad's mowing. In the foreground are the "late" organic, which haven't been treated yet with Roundup. There were areas of the field where the clover was keeping out any weed problems. There appears to be much more biodiversity with the use of Roundup. Hopefully this summer I can get some data along these lines. But for right now, a picture is worth a thousand words!