Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, June 19, 1993, Image 144

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    012-Uncaster Farming, Saturday, June 19,1993
For, Some, It’s Never Too Early
To Look At Christmas Trees
Special To Lancaster Farming
LITITZ (Lancaster Co.)
Jackets and umbrellas gave way to
sunglasses and notepads just in
time for the start of the day-long
seminar on Christmas tree produc
tion Thursday, June 3. The Capitol
Region of the Pa. Christmas Tree
Grower’s Association (PCTGA)
held the training meeting for the
Lebanon-Lancaster area conifer
growers in their ongoing program
to educate, inform, and update
affiliates in all aspects of the
Christmas tree industry.
Hosted by Elizabeth Farms, a
part of the historic Coleman Estate
in the lovely rolling hills of north
ern Lancaster County and south
ern Lebanon County, the setting
was perfect for a fine spring
The Coleman’s were important
in PA history for the iron produc
tion so vital to the development of
the country. Elizabeth Farms, hav
ing a total of 1800 acres, has at
present 350 acres in Christmas
trees of many varieties and 60
additional acres under cultivation,
including soybeans, sorghum, and
some pastureland.
Pierce is in his tenth year of
developing the tree farm on the
estate. The partnership of owners,
Francis Coleman and his nephew,
William Coleman, recently dele
gated Craig, son of Francis, and
his new bride, Kris, as live-in
manager-trainees of the farms.
They recently moved here from
Bill Fetheroff of Sherlunde Forests, Reading, demons
trates tree shearing with a rotary blade.
, T. %*?'
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'* /** *
About 200 people met at Elizabeth Farms during the Pa. Christmas Tree Growers
Association training meeting.
New York City.
The young couple drove trac
tors that pulled the guests touring
the farm and their enthusiam was
quite evident.
In addition to Frank Pierce and
his wife, Joanna, who helps with
the books and the mowing, there is
a family living in one of the farm
houses and six helpers from Mex
ico, some of whom stay to help in
the harvest season. Other part
time and seasonal help are hired.
Since the farm is comparitively
new on the conifer production
scene, saleable trees are only
recendy being marketed. In 1992,
8.000 cut trees were sold. This
season. Pierce hopes to sell some
dug trees (B & B). Of course, like
any other endeavors so dependent
on weather and so many other
unpredictable factors, Pierce read
ily admits he really can’t predict
“I was supposed to tell you
what I would have done different
ly if I could do it over, but I still
don’t know what I’m doing so I
can’t tell you,” he jokingly tells
his guests.
Sporting greens of every shade
and tone, the long rows of see
dlings and ready-for-market spe
cimens drew the eyes along gently
rolling slopes and merged low
mountains in the background. Eli
zabeth Farms grows at present,
350.000 trees of Pennsylvania’s
42 million trees grown for Christ
mas trees.
As guests arrived, they labeled
themselves with nametags and
V ** j'
The group climbed aboard four
farm wagons pulled by tractors. In
the Christmas tree sales season,
the customers are delighted to be
taken from pine field to Hr or
spruce field in these wagons
pulled by matched teams of Per
cherons but for this occasion, the
tractors would have to serve.
Divided into groups, the
wagons stopped at various stations
of the farm where instruction
would be offered in many inter
ests. At one location, Scott Guiser
of the Penn State Extension ser
vice explained a simplified way to
calibrate hand sprayers.
Dr. Larry Kuhns, the friendly
figure familiar to PA Christmas
tree growers, shared his latest
findings of herbicide use. Several
test rows had been sprayed weeks
earlier so participants could readi
ly see the results for themselves
whether or not different post
emergent sprays damaged trees.
Over the next hill, shearing
techniques were demonstrated on
a stand of seven foot tall market
able Scots pines. Melissa Piper
Nelson, of the PCTGA, intro
duced the demonstrators. Tom
Ressler, manager of Sheerlund
Forest on the southern fringe of
Reading, demonstrated shearing
using knives. Properly protected
with heavy full length leg chaps
and with the confidence only
gained by many years of working
with the long-bladed instrument,
he quickly slashed away extra
growth with his right hand then
reached up to nip off the leaders
with a sturdy pruning shears to
shape the top into just what the
customer looks for.
♦ **v •**
fortified themselves with coffee
and doughnuts. A mini-trade show
was set up so interested growers
could drool over the newest equip
ment. Pruning and shearing
knives, sprayers, mowers, and the
latest accessories were there with
their representative salesmen.
By 9:30 A.M., all the early
morning evidence of the fore
casted rain had dissapated and the
organizers breathed a collective
sigh of grateful relief.
Almost 200' registrants were
greeted by Alan Michael, the
multi-county horticultural special
ist who serves this region’s
Bill Fetheroff, also with Sheer
lund, demonstrated a rotary blade
' V
*// /
trates tree shearing with knives.
attached on the business end of an
ECHO weed wacker in place of
the line rotater. Swinging it up and
down, he made it look easy, even
topping the leader with a tap of the
Gerritt Strathmeyer of Strath
meyer Forests, Inc. of Dover, PA,
strapped on the ECHO engine
back-pack which powers a 72” or
88” reciprocal blade resembling a
giant hedge trimmer. Held upright
at the exact angle at which you
wish to taper the tree, one simply
walks around the tree, slicing off
everything that sticks out of line.
An experienced hand can shear
2,500 trees a day if there is a
water, gas, and an oil boy to ser
vice the man, motor, and blade at
regular intervals.
With 16” straightedge knives,
whirling blades, and hedgesheats
as tall as a man, the safety aspect
is critical. Plenty of room to work
is the rule with no distractions.
A break for lunch came just in
time to quiet hungry bellies of
these men and women used to
working hard and eating well. The
tractors took the groups right up
the road to the Brickerville Fire
Company where volunteers had
prepared hot roast beef sandwi
ches, soup, etc. and home made
The afternoon featured reps
from the PA Dept, of Agriculture
and a Pest Workshop. Vance
Wagner set up his easel in the
middle of a sunny field and drew
the eternal triangle of pests: host,
environment, and pathogen all
, gi —lampL. ~
ry Weaver, Judge; and Casey High, reserve champion
Spring Preview Show Held
land Co.) The 11th annual
Franklin County Spring Preview
Show was held Saturday, June 5,
at the Shippensburg Fairgrounds.
Scott Mullinex of Howard
County, Md., won the grand
champion honor and reserve grand
was awarded to Casey High of
Lancaster County. Other class
winners include Heather and Jus
equal parts in growing bugts. Eli
minating one point of the triangle
makes it impossible for the bug to
survive. The trick is in knowing
the how, when and where of
changing any of the critical
Walt Blosser and Esther Bach
talked about inspecting and scout
ing the plantation and educating
oneself to the destructive creatures
and their habits. To add credence
to their talks, they had specimens
for a show-and-tell or feel-and
squeal display. This knowledge
able duo is out to get each grower
to take command of his/her own
tree farm to the extent of knowing
what is there in the way of pests
and how to cope.
Rayanne Lehman and Dr. Paul
Heller concluded the day’s
instruction with further lessons on
control of insect pests.
Growing the lovely trees for
Christmas celebrations is a hard,
time consuming work, whether
done for fun or profit, full time or
part-time. It is one of those labor
intense vocations in which one
cannot count his own time. The
benefits are a healthy environ
ment, good exercise, and enjoy
ment of watching green things
grow. These men and women who
farm trees for a crop are hardy and
competitive but they are organized
and they do love to get together
with other friends of their feather
and socialize and trade secrets of
success. That’s exactly what they
did at Brickcrvill and they had a
good time.
tin Fuls of Somerset County and
Scott Pugh of Frederick County,
Heather Fuls also won the
champion fitter and show plaque,
and Eric Berkheimer of Cumber
land County won reserve.
Judging the show was Larry
Weaver of Lancaster County, who
praised the quality of steers