Archives

The Cocoa Tree: New Threats It Faces

cacao tree drawingThe Cocoa Tree is one of the world’s most valuable commodities, because chocolate is one of the world’s favorite flavors. Besides craving the creamy and delicious tastes of chocolate bars and candies, we enjoy chocolate in hot beverages, cakes, pies, and puddings, and as a very popular flavoring in milk. Chocolate ice cream, along with all of its many collaborations with other flavors, is also a global favorite.

Perhaps surprising to some, Americans consume less chocolate per capita than many of their European counterparts. According to a 2015 Forbes Report, the Swiss lead the way with 19.8 lbs./capita. The United States only ranks 9th at 9.5 lbs/capita consumption.

Overall, the world consumed approximately 7.7 million metric tons of chocolate so far in 2018, according to Statistica.

Cocoa Trees are Under Threat

Scientists and other experts are predicting trends that may be threatening the healthy development of cocoa production. Chocolate is made from the beans of cocoa trees. Mostly, the cocoa trees thrive in hot and wet conditions within 10° of the Equator. Most of the global output is harvested in the West African countries of Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon.

Threats to future cocoa production come from several fronts. First, according to bigpictureeducation.com, several diseases are increasing the risks to overall cocoa bean output.

These are:

  • Black Pod Disease: A type of water mold, Phytophthora, blackens and kills the cocoa pods that contain the beans. The damaging spores are carried by wind and water as well as insects, bats, and rodents which cause the pods to rot.
  • Witches’ Broom is a fungus that stunts the growth of the flowers and pods.
  • Mirids are insects that feed on the trees, leaves, and branches and cause death.
  • Other threats are frosty pod riot, vascular streak dieback, and pod borer.

Long-term Threat: Global Warming

While these insects and fungi remain a growing threat to cocoa tree farmers, global warming represents a real long-term concern. Scientists are predicting that the change of climate will change the climate conditions required to grow cocoa and will create a substantial reduction in capacity.

ProLine™ Nursery and Landscaping Equipment

For decades, Heritage Oak Farm has worked with professional landscapers and nursery professionals to design time, labor, and money saving landscape and nursery equipment that is ideal for managing trees and large plants. One product, Proline™ Grapple collects and hauls branches, logs, and boulders with ease.

For more information regarding the ProLine Series of time-saving equipment, visit the website or call 1-888-288-5308.

Fall Treatment For Leaf Blight

AnthracnoseAs autumn kicks in and a new array of responsibilities appear, landscape professionals begin to prepare their crews and clients for taking the necessary steps to protect trees, bushes, and plants from the elements of winter as well as common things like leaf blight and to ensure each returns to brilliance when spring arrives.

Trees are the most valuable and critical elements of any landscape. Specific treatments during the weeks before winter ensure that they are not affected by the fungal spores that cause leaf blight.

What is Leaf Blight?

Leaf blight, more scientifically known as Anthracnose, is caused by fungus growth on twig and leaf tissue and is particularly prevalent in wet climates. Usually developing in springtime, the fungus causes considerable leaf damage and early loss. Many trees are susceptible to one or more species of Anthracnose. These include oak, ash, maple, hickory, elm, linden, birch, walnut, sycamore, and dogwood.

Early detection can save later problems. The condition is noted by red or tan lesions that develop on the leaf edges and veins. If the problem has progressed, an abnormal amount of leaf loss for the time of the season will indicate the problem.

Best Time for Anthracnose Treatments

While spring applications are useful, a fall treatment will work well to prevent an early emergence of the fungus condition. Fall applications work better for most professional landscapers since springtime schedules are so densely booked.

Also, if the tree already shows signs of leaf blight, picking up and removing all leaves, twigs, and fallen branches surrounding the tree during the fall is essential to eliminating the fungus from the area.

Fall pruning of old limbs and dead wood will also help prevent the occurrence or a relapse of the condition along with a fall application of industry recognized and proven fungicide chemicals, injections, or sprays to clear up the problem and ensure healthy spring leaf growth.

Ensure trees have the proper amount of sunlight, water, and fertilizer to keep them strong enough to withstand a fungus attack as weakened trees are most susceptible.

ProLine™ Tree Handling Equipment

Heritage Oak Farm has been a key player in the tree management business for several decades. Through their broad experience in the industry, they have invested their time and labor to create their money-saving ProLine equipment for tree handling, transporting and planting.

One essential piece of ProLine equipment specifically designed for landscapers and tree farms is the patented ProLine GRABBER. The GRABBER has a unique paddle design which eliminates trunk or ball damage while retrieving healed-in or in-ground B&B stock.

For more information, visit the ProLine website or call 1-888-288-5308.

Honey Bees in Maryland: The Pollinator Health Bill

honey bee image

Colony Collapse Disorder is an issue among bees in the U.S.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has been a serious problem for nearly a decade now (first recognized in October 2006). Unfortunately, no specific cause has been identified. Similar incidents have occurred in the 1880s, 1920, and 1960s, but none of these events has provided a clear understanding as to why honey bee colonies suddenly collapse.

What is clear about CCD disorder is that it threatens agriculture the world over. Beekeepers in the U.S. have reported losses in the range of 30-90% per year, losses that have prompted legislators in several states to consider laws that can help honeybees. Maryland is the latest state to consider a “pollinator health bill” and while these laws cannot prevent CCD, they can help to protect honeybees against known threats and give them a fighting chance.

Continue reading

The Colony Collapse Disorder Puzzle: An Update on What We Know

CCD content image

Colony Collapse Disorder

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has been a thorn in the side of U.S. beekeepers for nearly a decade now. Unfortunately, research has been unable to pin down the exact cause of this devastating illness. While we understand more than we did a decade ago, the picture is still quite incomplete. As Jeff Pettis, research leader of the Bee Research Laboratory in Maryland, has put it, if CCD is a jigsaw puzzle, then we have the blue-sky pieces in place, but “no center picture.” Continue reading

The Asian Citrus Psyllid Leads to Quarantine

Asian Citrus PsyllidFor nearly sixty years the United States has dodged infestation by the Asian citrus psyllid, one of two known vectors of the bacterium responsible for citrus greening disease. Though the psyllid has infected trees in Asia for centuries, it only made its move the Americas, specifically Brazil, in 1942. It took another fifty-six years before the psyllid made its way to North America, but once the infestation began, it spread rapidly. The Asian citrus psyllid is now found in fourteen U.S. states and five U.S. territories. It is also present in Mexico. Continue reading

Understanding How Diseases Spread in Nurseries

commercial tree farmFrom age-old pests to new and emerging diseases, the threats to nurseries and tree farms come from every angle. Every manager knows that the key to healthy plants is the prevention of disease outbreaks, but prevention requires constant vigilance. Rather than keeping track of individual diseases, a better solution may involve keeping track of common sources of infection to reduce and eliminate pathogens of all types. Continue reading

Boxwood Blight Returns to U.S. Nurseries

boxwoodThe boxwood is often referred to as “man’s oldest garden ornamental.” The boxwood, which has been planted in European and North American gardens since the mid-1600s, is popular because it can be used in hedges and groupings or as an individual specimen. Until recently, it was also easy to maintain and relatively disease free[1]. Unfortunately, boxwoods are now under threat. Continue reading

Sudden Oak Death Could Infect Eastern Nurseries and Forests

tree nursery equipmentSudden Oak Death (SOD) is becoming a major threat to a number of plants. First identified in 1995 in California, Sudden Oak Death has spread to several commercial nurseries across the U.S. The presence of this emerging tree disease in cold-weather climates suggests it has the potential to spread far and wide and cause serious economic damage. If you’ve not yet removed those infected trees, you may need to be prepared for devastating results. Continue reading