Plant Materials Center Update: October 20, 2022

Here are 5 things that you should know about the PMC for October 20, 2022:

Sales

As in all of the recent updates, sales remain strong. They have exceeded $1.2 million, which is almost 80% ahead of this time last year. It looks like the team has their work cut out for them with the upcoming harvest and shipping season!

Fall Seedbed Planting Begins

The large majority of deciduous, hardwood tree and shrub species that are grown from seed at the PMC begin with fall seed planting. The seeds of most species propagated here are dormant, meaning that they will not germinate until they undergo a period of cold, wet conditions. Those that are sown in the fall receive this treatment naturally through the winter.

This process seems to have worked well in nature for millions of years. This year was unique, though, due to the dry conditions this fall. For the first time, the ground needed to be irrigated to provide suitable soil moisture for ground prep and planting. Seasonal rainfall has always negated the need for this step in the past. Once irrigated the conditions were right for planting.

The air quality was another story. As anyone in the state knows, the fires this fall have created a smoky haze in the atmosphere. It did not stop us from successfully completing the first round of fall seed sowing. Over 3 ½ miles of seedbed were planted, which is about half of this years fall seedbed. The next round is awaiting more seed and the rains that are predicted to come.

New Farm Operations Supervisor Hired

As mentioned in a previous update, our Farm Operations Supervisor Bill Mulder is retiring at the end of the year.  The PMC has been fortunate to find a suitable replacement. Oscar Arias will start in early November. That will give him almost 2 months to learn a lot about keeping this place operating from Bill. Oscar has many years of experience farming as well as being a mechanic. The farm practices at the PMC are quite unique compared to producing agronomic crops but with Oscar’s background and Bill’s tutelage the transition should be relatively smooth.

Live Stake Harvest Going Strong

The PMC is in full swing with the fall live stake harvest. The crew size has in fact been increased from 8 to 10 people to increase the rate of production. Most of the stakes ordered are 6’ in length which takes longer to process than the standard 3’ stakes. They have been averaging approximately 3,000 stakes a day which should increase with the additional 2 crew members, which will be helpful in completing the 70,000 additional stakes that have been requested over the next month.

Jim Attends Western Forest and Conservation Association Conference

The Western Forest and Conservation Nursery Association is, as the name implies, is an association of nurseries and associated enterprises producing reforestation and conservation plants in the western United States. The conference, held in Missoula, Montana, was the first in-person meeting in 3 years due to COVID.

This years’ topic was Expanding the Pipeline, or how to increase production to meet a large anticipated increase in demand. Over 3 days, presentations included increasing seed availability, scaling production to meet that much demand, and out-planting and post-planting challenges. There were also 3 field trips to tour forest and conservation nurseries in the area which are always invaluable. The best part was networking with others in this unique field, especially after a 3-year hiatus. Most of the focus was on reforestation as usual. The participants left with a better understanding of where demand is going, where there are some funding and resource opportunities, how some are proceeding, and what needs to be considered to help ensure success. What these nurseries, and the PMC, will do and how they will do it remain to be seen.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Jim Brown
Director of Nursery Operations