Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, June 19, 1993, Image 144
012-Uncaster Farming, Saturday, June 19,1993 For, Some, It’s Never Too Early To Look At Christmas Trees JACKIE BOWSER 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 outing. 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. %*?' EV/ , SBmU ,v ♦ '* /** * 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 anything. “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' iMiMdk. 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 farmers. 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 blade. 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 pie. 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 SHIPPENSBURG (Cumber 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 elements. 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, Va. 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 shown.