Sunday, March 28, 2010

Badgersett hazel genetics- and the U of Nebraska-

It has come to our attention that at the recent hazel convention in La Crosse, a paper was presented stating that the "Arbor Day Lodge" hybrid hazel planting (100% of which is from Badgersett, though papers from the U of N routinely do not state that) - has only around 0.5% of the bushes that might have commercial potential.

Our response would be- "well, duh."

That's exactly what we would expect from those hazels.

But then- we know what that planting contains, genetically - in detail.

And neither the Arbor Day Foundation, nor the University of Nebraska does. They actually have no idea whatsoever, what those hazels ARE, genetically.


They never asked. How many of their researchers have ever visited Badgersett to investigate the source?


Yes, we do see that as a problem.

In fact, we DID tell the Arbor Day Foundation what kind of hazels we were planting there. Not in detail, because they didn't have anyone on board who was assigned to keep track of such information, at the time. We always assumed that anyone interested in those hazels - would ASK - and we'd be happy to tell them.

But- Arbor Day forgot- and the U of N- has never- ever- bothered to ask.

Basically- if I were going to spend a lot of time studying anything- I'd darn sure want to learn as much about the origins of what I was studying. Wouldn't you?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

we've been quiet-

Whenever we have a rather long quiet period here- where we don't make new blog posts, don't get phone calls answered, and don't get emails answered- it's 10 to 1 that the reason is someone's health.

In this case, it's Meg's. She's on crutches, and confined to the house; has been for over a week now. 3 trips to the doctor so far; more to come, mostly in Rochester (50 miles).

She's had a number of foot injuries in the past; it seems they're all ganging up on her now. About 10 days ago, the pain in her heel became really unbearable. She'd been ignoring it for a month or so. Called the nurse help line- the nurse said "90%- you've got a broken foot. Get in to urgent care, now."

X rays and scans later- she has torn fascia and ligaments- and a bone spur growing into it all. Surgery, most likely, but the doctors have to try everything else, first (insurance).

Thank goodness I've got Brandon here to help pick up the load; but it still means we're a lot more tired at the end of the day.

And- we may be entering a drought. Too much beautiful sunny weather; no real rain in sight. Which means "rainy-day" chores, like writing, get put off.

More before long.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

spare 2 minutes...

I've got about 2 minutes "spare" here, and ran into these photos; which I thought I'd stick up here. (Click for bigger versions- recommended)

This is what our "to eat" hazels look like these days; this is actually what we ship. The upper photo is of a loaded sorting tray, just as it is when we're doing the final sort, removing any weeviled or spoiled nuts we can find.

There's been a substantial change in the overall size and quality; as we include more of the 3rd cycle plants- which are now producing, but not tested enough to use for seed. A lot of them have outstanding nuts.

As you know, if you're harvesting your own, the smaller ones frequently have extremely thin shells; paper thin- or thinner. We do discard heavy shelled bushes in the breeding process.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Short Course Details Posted

Initial details for the April 10-11 Short Course have been posted on at the 2010 Woody Ag short course event page. We recommend arriving in the evening of Friday the 9th, since the classes start at 9 AM on Saturday. We aim to have it all wrapped up by 4 PM on Sunday. For those who are interested there will also be a Monday tour of the farm.

Please do check out the event page for details, but I'll put the current rough course outline here as well:

Day 1: Classes will start with Woody Agriculture theory and progress to details of establishment and planning, primarily focussing on hazels:

  • Woody Agriculture Introduction: Theory and Energetics: Why; and How
  • Basic Hazel Biology—plant morphology, physiology, genetics, species ecology
  • Chestnuts, Hickories, and Others
  • NEW! The Badgersett Hazel Breeding Program - Specifics on Cycles 1 through 4, with the math.
  • Establishment— site selection, planting, and weed control
  • NEW! Life Cycle Hazel Spacing— with effects on yield and long-term management

Day 2: The detail continues, with fertilization, pest management, marketing and sales:

  • Fertilizing— how to assess and optimize hazel fertility
  • Harvest and Post Harvest— ripeness assessment, state of the art hand harvest techniques and machine capability
  • Pest Management in Detail—mammals, birds, insects, plants and fungi
  • TENTATIVE Propagation, high and low tech—involving examination of actual plants in class, and including our proprietary on-farm cloning method.
  • TENTATIVE Coppice— important details of this field renovation practice
  • NEW! Nut Quality– faults, sorting, grading for sales
  • NEW! Marketing– Including specifics on creating markets for new products.
Note that the marketing talk is now tagged as "new" since I didn't find it as a separate talk on any of the previous short course syllabi.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March! and Short Course details soon.

Here at Badgersett we get started on spring a little early; hazels are already leafing out in the greenhouse, and if we're not careful it can get up over 90° in there quite often this time of year. Even so, the spring songs of cardinals (about three weeks ago) and chickadees (last week) are still a bit surprising to me every time. Here at the beginning of March, though, the signs of snow melt and harbingers of mud season are everywhere. The new puppies will be a little more difficult for a while, I'll bet.

The dogs, incidentally, are part of an overall plan to integrate animals on our farm, and more generally in Woody Agriculture systems– but that discussion will have to wait until later.

Today I'm working on some of the details for this year's Short Course. I'll put a note here and post it all on when it's done, but for now I can tell you:
  • Same pricing as 2008
  • Four definite presentations:
  1. Life Cycle hazel spacing (new/improved)
  2. Nut Quality– faults, sorting, grading for sales (NEW, with hands-on materials)
  3. Badgersett Hazel Breeding Program. Specifics on Cycles 1 through 4, with the math. (NEW, given by yours truly)
  4. Marketing (skipped in 2008, so now it's back)
  • Remaining presentations will be taken from those given previously; always updated with the newest information. If you as an attendee want a specific talk to be presented, let us know!