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February 2006


Liebig's Law of the Minimum states that growth is controlled not by the total of resources available, but by the scarcest resource.  Increasing the amount of plentiful nutrients did not increase growth.  The plants did not need the plentifully available nutrients, it needed the scarcer nutrient in relation to “need”.  Only by increasing the limiting factors was plant growth improved.  This is easily pictured by the barrel with a “short stave”.  You can fill it only as high as the shortest stave. 


Each and everyone of us has a “short stave” that limits our production, our quality, our profitability, our ???  This is a great time of year (the only time for me) to stop and think about what factors limit my business.  What's keeping me from producing that higher tonnage?  That better quality?  Reducing the percentage of insect damage?  Making sure I'm at my kid's ball game?  If we don't stop to look for the “short stave” we'll never rise above it!   We grow blind to our own shortcomings, our own habits.  If you're willing to humble yourself, have a friend over and ask him to look for your “short stave”!




















The last few years has brought an increased interest and use for vinegar.  It will help you with pH problems in the soil and irrigation water, burn down weeds and who knows, maybe it will cure the dogs' mange!  I have a source available for a 30% A.I. Vinegar.  THIS MATERIAL IS OMRI APPROVED!  Please let me know if you're interested.  Freight rates can easily double the cost of a product.  It will help me keep the cost down if I can put a truckload together. 


Along the same line of thought, (truck load freight savings)  I'm putting together orders for “Nature Safe” pelleted fertilizer.  This is an OMRI approved 13-0-0 fertilizer.  It comes in one ton totes or 50 lb sacks.   The following OMRI approved formulations are also available: 5-6-6;  8-5-5;  10-2-8.  If you've purchased this in the past I'll be in contact to see about your needs.  If you're not familiar with this material, give me a call and I'll fill you in.


“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.”   Mark Twain


Anyone in the business of growing “certified organic” crops is familiar with the difficulty of  sourcing materials.  Sure you can probably find them, but at what cost?  I'm aware of a less expensive source of Nitrogen, when I can find a reliable source, you'll be the first to know!


If you have a block of apples that is suffering from Wooly Apple Aphid (WAA) early in the season is the time to go to work on it.  WAA over-winters on the roots of apple.  Prior to bloom it starts the trek up the trunk to its’ summer home in the top of the tree.  By putting a chemical barrier around the trunk you can prevent migration.  Information I came across states that an application at ½” green gave better results than one applied at full pink.  This is a very cost effective, non-disruptive program.  Several growers including myself have been using this program for a couple of years, it works.  There's even potential for an organic program using “Surround”.  Contact me about materials and rates.


In need of a great field manual for pests of Apple, Pear and Cherry?  How about one in Spanish?  Take a look at the following:


Dormant oil season is just around the corner.  GMD owns and reuses the barrels that we deliver your dormant oil in.  To insure you receive a clean product, we steam clean them inside and out before each use.  This requires a bit of handling (expense) on our part, but is far less expensive than buying product in new drums each year.  To help us keep your cost down, please make sure your drums are completely empty.   THANKS!


One of the speakers at the Portland Orchard pest conference mentioned Pear leaf blistermite suddenly appearing after being absent for years.  That comment quickly got my attention.  After a 13 year absence, it made it's presence known in a couple of North Fork pear blocks.   The mite itself is the size of a small rust mite.  It is white in color and elongated, unlike the dull yellow wedge shape of the Rust mite.  Leaf damage shows up as white blisters that decay and turn black.  When you look at the blister with a 16X – 20X hand lens you can see a small exit hole in the center of the mound.  Fruit damaged soon after the pears form, appear as red lesions along the upper end and stem.  Check the following address to see an example.  . As the fruit develops the damage becomes a sunken russeted area.  They spend the dormant season under bud scales, emerging  as soon as the first green growth peaks out.  Blister mite becomes active at temperatures lower than those required by Rust mite.  A conventional dormant oil with the proper insecticide will usually clean them up for the season.  If your farming by organic standards then the Fall is your only shot (cut this section out and tape it to October in your calendar).  Lime/Sulfur (sulfur alone won't do the job) just before leaf drop is the ideal window.


It's always good to sit in on a speaker that's both informative and enjoyable.  Dr. Andrew Lander's presentations at the Hort show were just that.  His thoughts on sprayer technology were a mix of new ideas and common sense.  How long has it been since you changed the nozzles in your sprayer?  With the cost of material’s it's  bad business to use old worn nozzles that give uneven, poor patterns.  Do you change your sprayer set-up as the season progresses?  As canopies get more full?  What about using a lower fan speed on closer spacings?  Dr. Landers discussed the use of air-induction nozzles that mix air with the spray solution to give a uniformly larger drop, thereby reducing drift and increasing deposition.  Think about the last time you saw an air-blast working in an orchard.  The cloud of spray rising over the top of the trees and drifting off.  Replacing the top nozzles on your sprayer with air-induction nozzles will help to reduce this.  It's a home run when we can reduce drift and do a better job of spraying the tops of our trees!  Here's Dr. Lander's web page.  It has lots of good info as well as links to nozzle sources.


Interested in larger, sweeter, earlier peaches?   It's common in many growing areas to girdle the trunks of peach trees by removing a strip of bark.  This prevents the return of sugars  produced in the top of the tree (for storage in the roots) moving them into the fruit instead.  It also can set you up for insect, disease and a shorter tree life.  But here's a new twist on an old idea.  Before the tree breaks dormancy put a zip tie (plastic cable tie) around the trunk.  I read a research report discussing this technique.  The tie can be cut off post-harvest allowing the tree to store reserves prior to dormancy.  Try this on a FEW trees.  It appeared to work better on mid – late season varieties.


“We can never do a kindness too soon, since you never know how soon it will be too late!”      Emerson.


Give me a call, let's see if we can find your “short stave”!

Larry   234-3424

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