Five things that you should know about the PMC for June 17, 2021
Sales for the New Year
Sales orders are being received for next year at what may be an unprecedented rate. New sales will be entered after the start of the next fiscal year on July 1. Until then the orders are taken and dated. The sales software is being readied for the new year and field inventories are being conducted to estimate what there will be available to sell. Once the sales orders are entered, we can generate a sales report to determine what sales are to date and how that compares to recent years.
2021 Growing Season
There are a lot of plants growing in the fields currently. They appear to be growing about as fast as ever. That is hard to explain why since there has not been any changes in cultural practices that could have led to that. We have had some warm days that could have resulted in increased soil temperatures. That is not a bad problem to have but if it continues it will result in the beginning of drought stressing earlier than usual, which may have the added benefit of getting the plants dormant sooner.
Spring Seed Planting is Complete
The PMC received and planted the last species needed to finish spring seed planting, which was Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides). That one is always the last because it is important to use fresh seed since their seeds do not store well and this is the time of year that seeds are produced, harvested and processed. Growing Aspen from seed is unique and challenging in a variety of ways. Not only is very fresh seed required but the seed also needs light to germinate, meaning that it is planted on top of the ground. And just in case that is not challenging enough, the seeds cannot be allowed to dry out during germination or they will die. Maintaining soil moisture is also important to help keep the seed in place since the seed is extremely small. There are around 3,000,000 seeds per pound! Fortunately, they germinate in about 7 to 10 days. Once germinated they grow quickly and reach and marketable size in 1 growing season which means that they will be available this winter. The PMC typically sells all that it grows so it is advisable for anyone needing or wanting 1-0 Aspen seedlings to place an order before it is too late.
Life Goes On
More fun Aspen facts. Quaking Aspen is perhaps the most widely distributed hardwood tree in North America. It can be found in all provinces in Canada and in the Brooks Range in Alaska and as far south as Guanajuato, Mexico. The species reproduces from seeds or suckers from the roots in nature. Reproduction from seed generally requires open, bare, mineral moist soils. More commonly it reproduces via root suckers which can result in large clonal stands that can grow and spread over decades and centuries. There is one very old and large such stand in the Fish Lake National Forest in Utah. It is call Pando which is Latin for I Spread. This genetically identical stand cover 106 acres and its 40,000 trees weighs in as the largest living organism at 13,000,000 pounds. It is hard to accurately determine how old it is but it can safely be said that it is several thousand years old.
The next big project at the PMC is the start of root pruning, or under
cutting. That is a process of cutting the root tips off of the plants while they are growing in the ground. It uses an implement called a root pruner or undercutter which pulls a sharp blade at the proper depth. The plant responds to having its root tips cut off by branching out, resulting in more fibrous roots. The first plants to be root pruned are the plants that have been carried over for a 2nd growing. The next will be the 1-year-old seedlings that reach the optimal size. If done properly it results in plants with a full, fine root system making it better able to take up water and nutrients. If the blade is too deep then the only observable result will be wasted time. If the blade is too shallow the plants could wind up dead. Hopefully the result will be the former.
I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Jim Brown, WACD PMC Nursery Manager