Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A new threat to woody crops.

In the news today in the New York Times; 2-4-D resistant corn has moved closer to regulatory approval- as a fruit and vegetable growers group has withdrawn their opposition.

Yes, 2-4-D will hurt your hazels, or chestnuts, or almost any other tree crop.  A modest amount will kill them- but more insidiously, tiny amounts will "hurt" your trees, resulting in lower crop production, or decreased crop quality.  Besides the effect on those aiming for organic-certified status.

Dow has "promised" to change the formulation of the 2-4-D, so it's not so volatile; and change the label on the corn, so farmers are "required" to use only the "new" formula- and apparently the Save Our Crops Coalition has decided that's good enough.

It isn't good enough- not if it's YOUR field that gets wiped out, when a local farmer decides he can't afford the new and improved formula; and just uses the old stuff sitting in the barn that his father bought in 1975.  Will that happen?  Yes it will.  The other catastrophe waiting- the "new formula"

If Dow is serious about responsible chemical use- they should be required to set up a fund to pay damages for any instances of abuse; regardless of "whose fault" it was.  Its the tree crop growers who will be ruined.  Loss of livelihood and investment is a real possibility; all that's required is some one farmer who is momentarily careless.

This is a brand new development; not sure what will happen next; my guess would be that a substantial faction of Save Our Crops will split off- and declare loudly they are NOT satisfied with label changes and untested new pesticide formulas.  You may want to keep informed.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Combined perils of climate change and increased biodiversity...

So; walking back home from the greenhouse 2 days ago- after a technically "severe" thunderstorm - quite late in the season, with 3/4" torrential rain and 1" hailstones- I very nearly walked my bare toes right into this:

This isn't the biggest snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) we've seen wandering through our woody agriculture plantings, by a good deal; but this fellow was certainly big enough to remove bare toes, if they went by within range.

We see them rarely; more often in the pond than out.  This one was apparently heading towards the pond, which is at an all time low.  Looking for water, in the drought, maybe.  I'm puzzled a bit by the smoothness of the shell; our other, bigger, snappers have usually had the typical very rough upper scutes- this one looks like it's been tumbled in a rock polisher.  Old?  Perhaps.  We didn't try to count rings on the scales (possible sometimes).

Not agressive.  But with excellent eyesight, and a strike as fast as a snake, if motivated.

We're glad to see them.  Also glad not to trip on them, barefoot.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

No More Tubelings for 2012; Latest Planting Dates Updated

Hello folks, here's a final fall plant availability update. We are now (still) taking orders for the 2013 planting season. We've stopped shipping plants for 2012 delivery, a bit earlier than in the previous couple of years, because:
1) We are sold out of tubelings in a good state for late planting; what we have on hand is either too actively growing to reliably go dormant in time, or too close to dormancy to put in enough roots.
2) In the recent few years, fall planting has been overall less successful than before, and some of our growers have had very serious mortality. Most of this appears to be a result of unusual weather extremes: early freezes, excessive winter moisture and freezing farther south have contributed to direct mortality. Extended growing seasons or early warmth has also been confusing the plants and adding to transplant and seasonal-clock-reset stress.

Given these developments, we can no longer provide our survival guarantee this late in the season. Our updated latest planting dates are:
July 30 for zone 5 and colder.
August 30 for zone 6 and warmer.

In the past it has been useful to plant later in the season, both for us and our growers, so we are working on making later planting more reliable again. But for the time being, it isn't, so we want to take steps to reduce dead plants and unhappy customers!

Coming soon, some new plant categories available for the 2012 season...