Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hazel Tubelings: Shipping, and Sold Out

The good news: we start shipping this week, at the beginning of the order/shipping/pick-up queue. We've got some hazels ready to go, and chestnuts not far behind. Keep in mind that this does not mean that we are ready to ship all of our outstanding orders; many of the plants for our currently outstanding orders will not be ready until July.

The less good news: we're sold out of hazel plants for the year. If your order has already been received and processed, there is a good chance that we will be able to fulfill even the most recent orders; however new orders and email orders not yet processed will most likely not be able to ship until next year.
We are particularly low on Large-select and Xtra Large-select material; I'm afraid that there's a good chance that some of the orders we've already taken for these classes of plants may not be filled this year. For those of you in this boat, you will have the option to convert your order to another class with higher availability, postpone it until next year, or take a refund.

We are essentially sold out of Chestnuts as well, but there may be a little wiggle-room for All-Purpose and Nut-type trees. Due to less stringent germination requirements, outstanding chestnut orders will likely all be ready to ship by late June/ early July.

Why are we sold out? Mostly, it boils down to: insufficient hazel harvest labor, extraordinarily bad weather for chestnut harvest, and the compounding effect those had on the timely processing of the hazel seed harvest.

This picture is of Philip harvesting chestnuts at 9 PM on October 10; we scrambled that day to get all we could in before the freeze that night. I was able to keep harvesting until about 2:30 AM, when the crop remaining had frozen; the greenhouse thermometer said it got down to 17.8° F that night. Harvest had already been slowed substantially by a poorly timed windstorm and wet weather; this very early freeze claimed more than 95% of the overall chestnut harvest. We did, nevertheless, manage to get enough in to cover the orders we've currently got in the database.

We don't like being sold out this early in the season, and we apologize– but that's the way it is. Orders can still be placed for next season, and this will effectively mark the beginning of the delivery queue for the 2011 planting season. This means: if you want plants for next May-June delivery, it might be a good idea to place those orders now. We do expect availability to be very substantially improved, as it has already been this year compared to last.

Regarding the timing of shipping, this year the hazel pipeline is a little slow, but the plants we'll be delivering are very strong and healthy. Badgersett is a sustainability-first business; heat and power in the greenhouses comes from the sun, and that's it. This means that nearly all stages of plant production, including post-harvest processing, stratification, germination and actual plant growth, depend on the weather. We do what we can to get plants ready as quickly as possible, but the bottom line is that the plants are ready when they are ready, and not before. We will only ship plants worthy of our guarantees, and often this means that they will ship later than your requested ship date.

It should also be kept in mind that we have a long queue of orders; currently we have some orders made in 2008 that are ready for completion of shipping this year. Orders made in January are likely to ship before mid-July, and possibly even in June. Most orders made in April of this year won't come to the head of the queue until our second flush of plants is ready in July.

This information has been available in a shorter, less specific form in our FAQ, which does state that you can contact us for your order status and get a fairly short turn-around. That is unfortunately not the case right now. We are more focussed on the quality of the tubelings than on responding to order inquiries right now. We're sorry that we have been slow in responding, but we are convinced that plants of the highest quality will make everybody much happier in the long run. We sincerely appreciate your patience!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Plant Shipping Status and Work this Weekend

We have not yet shipped any standard tubelings this season, and do not expect to do so for another week or so. We've had a lot of delays with this year's planting season, some of which can be traced to two deaths in the family last December, and Meg's January foot injury, which is still slowing her down. Most recently, we've had a couple of weeks of colder weather which slows down the finishing stage substantially.We do, however, have a lot of strong tubelings in the pipeline– the closest fully-leafed-out hazels in the finishing house shown above have been decapitated and are nearly ready to ship; we will get them to you as soon as we can. Remember, tubelings can be planted throughout the growing season! Most of our planting at Badgersett happens in June, July and August.

For those of you still placing orders for planting this year, I apologize that our order handling has been slowed down for the past couple of weeks. At this point it's possible that we are sold out of some classes of tubelings, and we will have a better idea of where we stand when we process some greenhouse inventory numbers within the next couple of days.

Farm work this weekend: final hazel coppice of the year, and chestnut field maintenance (mostly consisting of pruning & tree removal). Saturday only this weekend, starting at 10 AM. Bring gloves!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

NEW! Greenhouse Office, and some status.

I'm writing this from the main greenhouse here at Badgersett– we had the DSL hooked up today. Now, we should be able to do more office-related work out here, rather than having to do all of it either at home or at the local elementary school. This should really help a lot, since this way I can be at "the office" and managing the new part-time greenhouse help more or less at the same time.

As I've said before, and will most likely say again– things are picking up, but we still have a long way to go. Today we should be getting to some of the order handling that has been postponed for the past couple of weeks.

The hazel and chestnut tubelings in the greenhouses look great; we've started decapitation and are hoping to get the first hazel tubeling orders of the season shipped within two weeks. Chestnuts are a little behind, but healthy and in the pipeline. Due largely to the October 10 freeze last fall (we were out gathering nuts until about 2:30 AM), we are short on Tree and All-Purpose type chestnuts, but have plenty of Nut type left. If you've got an order for Tree or AP, we may be contacting you about substitutions.

I'd better stop now, otherwise I'll start writing a book. But later on I'll try to tell you about the butternut and hazel transplanting we did last week, our increased work on hickory tubeling production (we might actually ship some this year...), the very wet weather we're having, and all the birds singing outside now (saw a yellow warbler this morning, and the bobolinks are back).

But instead, it's time for me to take care of a few orders and information requests. There are still hundreds in my inbox, and I'm sorry that we still won't get to most of them this month. But we're working on it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


This is just something to keep in mind-

Lots of buzz on this factor recently, and it's increasing.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

pocket gophers

As a result of short help and lousy luck with health over the past 3 years, our pocket gopher population on the farm has metastasized. Look below for an old blog post from 2004 for abundant details and photos about how serious pocket gophers are for hazels.

In the past we've relied on the specific gopher poison we sell, "Answer" (not set up on the web yet) - which is labeled for use on food crops, and works better than anything else we'd found, in terms of dollars/time/per gopher.

However- we now have animals of various kinds, and while secondary poisoning is supposed to be uncommon, we really really don't want to take the chance with a working dog we've spent hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours on. And we have 3 dogs now.

There's also a chance of secondary poisoning for our cats (5 - 3 barn cats for horse shelter and greenhouses), and our guinea fowl/chickens, which we are hoping to actually make some tangible money with this year, besides their non-monetary contributions of tick and general bug control. If a carcass gets pulled up on the surface, and attracts flies- there will be maggots- and the poultry will eat them.

All of this is low probability; but too high for me to like it.

So- we found another path, and it's been working quite well.

Amish boys. The township here pays a $2 bounty for gophers- which is quite sensible given our terrain and soil; the erosion they can start is very serious.

As additional incentive- we pay our 2 experienced gopher trappers an extra $1/gopher; a 50% bump in their pay, basically. The township takes the 2 front feet as proof; and we take the tail.

Our boys are brothers, 10 and 14, and we usually drive them to and from their home (about 3 miles away) 3-4 days a week.

We just finished the first two weeks- total gophers = 44

This time of year this are big old gophers from last year; many lactating females, so effectively we're getting the broods too.

And these 44 came out of our most sensitive places- where they were or were about to really hurt hazels.

If you've ever trapped gophers- that's a whale of a lot. The boys and their family were seriously pleased with the $44 bucks. We've got lots more gophers. And some happy helpers.


Old Blog Post by Phil Rutter, 9/27/04 at 9:01:26 AM.

Gophers Again-

Pocket gophers- Geomys bursarius in the East, Thomomys sp. in the west; turn out to be extremely serious pests. This time of year; early Fall, is when the young of the year leave their home burrows, and invade new territory. You MUST get them out; one way or another.side gopher:

This kind of gopher; pocket gophers, not the cute little stripy kind (which can eat tons of hazel NUTS if you leave your grass too long all summer and the population builds up...)

gopher pockets:

Here you see the teeth, that they cut roots with (their main food) and also use to dig with; their tremendous claws, and the deep cheek pockets that give them their name.

In 2001, the extent of the damage to young hazels by pocket gophers finally became crystal clear to us.

Hazels from 1-2 years old are too small to be very interesting to gophers; they may eat one or two, but damage will be minimal.

From 3-5 year old hazels however ARE big enough (the root systems), so that a pocket gopher may settle down and EAT. All the roots. All. Then go on to the next hazel in the line, and eat (ie. kill) that one. Then the next. This is a disaster.


Each of these sticks was a 3 year old hazel.... this is all the gopher left.

Once the hazels are a little older, their root systems are SO big that in most cases the gophers will get either full, or bored, and move on before doing lethal damage to the plant; most will survive. (There are some indications that genetics plays a role here, with native North American genes making the hazels less tasty to gophers, and European hazels getting worse damage levels. Maybe, we think.)

So - it's become critical to exclude pocket gophers from our young plantings - and yours, too.

Fall is an important time to GET them, for two big reasons:

1) They do NOT hibernate like some other rodents, and will cheerfully eat roots all winter; under frozen soil and snow where you can't get to them. 2) The juvenile gophers of the year spread out, in mid fall, and invade new areas. This is the only time you'll ever see a pocket gopher above ground; once a year, the young will get up on the surface and run like mad- maybe a mile; maybe two; then burrow in. Possibly this is a mechanism to prevent inbreeding in a mammal that otherwise moves very little from its home territory.

So, in fall, you'll see new gopher invasions, where you haven't had them before- and, these new sites are almost entirely young, DUMB gophers, which are very easily trapped.

6 gophers:

The good news is; gophers CAN actually be controlled; unlike mice, which you could trap and remove by the hundreds, without making a dent in their population, gophers breed slowly, and trapping can actually keep them effectively out. But it's work getting there. Best way to do it is not allow them to get established in the first place.

A whole treatise on gopher control will take more than this web log to cover- main point here is; if you have gophers, GET them OUT of your hazels, right now. One gopher can easily kill 20-40 hazel plants per year; and not newly planted ones, mind you, but 3-5 year old plants, just ready to start bearing those nuts- a 5 year old hazel is vastly more valuable than a 1 year old; all that work; all that time. Hard to put a dollar value on, but we'll guess it's somewhere around $40/plant, IF you could find a similar replacement, which you can't. So; one gopher, at 40 X $40 = $1,600.

Holy Cats! Really?? Yeah, if you're counting.

Get the gophers out. Most farm neighborhoods with gophers have bounties on them; and kids and sometimes adults who make money trapping them out. Find your local gopher control folks (call the county agent if nothing else occurs to you), and get them out of your hazels, right now; before the ground freezes.