Tuesday, May 14, 2013

No Cones, Please...

Cone production on Fraser fir can mean serious headaches for tree-growers. Heavy cone years vary. When trees come under stress due to drought or other environmental conditions, heavy cone years can follow. Last year (2012) was an especially heavy cone year. Growers spent tens of thousands of dollars in labor manually removing cones, which also take away from top-growth production and create unsightly 'pegs' that endure after the cones crumble and release their seeds in the summer.

Last year, Christmas tree specialist Jeff Owen began cone-spraying trials to try and identify an herbicide or plant regulator hormone that might stop or alter cone production. This work was tricky...trying to guess which field might have a high prevalence of cones next year and growers who didn't mind risking some of their trees getting 'burned' in the process. He is continuing this work in 2013.

IPM Technician Brad Edwards sprays cones on farm in Watauga County

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