Getting ready for the Christmas tree season
Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.
Production of high quality Christmas trees requires the pH to be properly adjusted and an adequate supply of all the essential nutrients. We have a few weeks before we are in full swing, and this is an excellent time to walk your fields, evaluate your trees for color and growth and there is still time to take soil or foliar samples! Soil and foliar samples can help you identify the causes of poor tree performance such as yellow color, low bud set, stunted growth, etc. Soil testing should be done prior to establishment and then every two to three years. This is particularly important to monitor changes in the soil pH. We have seen with nitrogen applications in Fraser fir that we can speed soil acidification especially on sandy soils. To take a foliar sample, collect three to five inches of the most current growth on the top third of the tree. Two to three ounces of tissue should be collected from each tree. These twigs should be collected from trees that reflect the average condition in the plantation. If particular trees have been identified due to off-color, reduced growth or other symptoms, they should be sampled separately and a separate analysis completed. The samples then should be sent to the lab as soon as possible.
If you plan on participating in the pine shoot beetle compliance program, you must have the agreement form and field information to for each field to the MDA regional office serving your county by April 1. (Note: Trap logs needed to be placed by March 1 or March 15, depending on the Zone where the field is located.)
Also, the gypsy moth mailing from the Michigan Department of Agriculture will be going out in the next few weeks so watch your mail.