Whats up in the organic world for June 19-23
For Healthy Cover Crops: Learn About Seed Sources!
Brook J. Wilke and Sieg
Snapp, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Kellogg Biological Station,
Perhaps you have experienced problems establishing cover crops on your farm, even during relatively good growing conditions. Often, inadequate moisture and cold temperatures make establishment and growth of late summer and fall seeded covers difficult, but what about the times when these limiting factors just could not explain the poor stand? A potential solution to this problem is learning more about your cover crop seed. Where and when was it grown? Is it a named variety? How was the seed processed? How old is it? These are just a few of the questions you might ask before purchasing cover crop seed if you want to reduce the risk of poor establishment and growth.
Plants are plastic, meaning that they can adapt in certain ways
to handle different environments. But genotypes will usually be most productive
in their natural habitat. A classic experiment performed by Clausen, Keck, and
Hiesey in 1940 showed that three varieties of sticky cinquefoil (Potentilla glandulosa) were naturally
found at three different altitudes. When the three ecotypes were grown together
at each of the three altitudes, they were all proportionally most productive in
their native habitat. Cover crop species follow these same general rules and it
matters where your cover crop seed is produced. Often, legume cover crops are
grown for seed in
For example, hairy vetch (Vicia
villosa) is often cultivated in
It may also be helpful to evaluate the time of the year when the cover crop seed was grown. Cover crops can be sown at different times of the year and still produce seed sometime during their lifetime. However, some species such as winter rye and winter wheat generally require vernalization (winter stress) to bolt, flower and produce seed. A few varieties of cereal rye are summer annuals and do not require this vernalization to produce seed. These generally are less winter hardy varieties. The same goes for winter annual legumes. Hairy vetch varieties grown in areas with very harsh winter environments such as Minnesota are most likely cultivated as a summer annual and will not necessarily be winter hardy, even in relatively warmer climates. Finding a commercial source that produces seed locally, or growing your own seed, are some of the ways that farmers can insure that cover crop seed is suited to an area.
Many identified cultivars are available for the cover crop
species we use. Cover crops such as red clover and winter wheat have been
cultivated for many years and numerous cultivars have been developed. Buying a
named variety of a cover crop will reduce genetic variability and help insure
cover crop establishment and successful growth. Common varieties are generally
more inexpensive but carry the risk of having changed over time, which may
actually increase or decrease establishment and growth (depending among other
factors on whether they were exposed to local selection pressure or selection
pressure in a different climate). An example is the dry or cold fall conditions
found in the upper
Cover crop seed is cultivated, harvested and sorted (if necessary) in several different ways. Certain techniques will be much more destructive to the seed than others. Perhaps you have had an experience where your seed was cracked or had a high amount of chaff. Be specific about obtaining seed that was harvested to be planted again and not just for grain. Also, inquire about the age of the seed before purchasing it. Since cover crop seed is not mass produced, it is sometimes stored for several years before being planted. In some cases, storage time will have moderate effect on germination rates, but when available, obtaining fresh cover crop seed is ideal.
You may find yourself asking questions like, “Should I
buy the seed that was grown in my county five years ago or last years seed from
2,000 miles away?” Or, “Do I want the crimson clover cultivar that
establishes well in dry conditions but might not over-winter on my farm?”
Don’t deliberate on questions like these so much that it causes you to
lose sleep, but keep in mind that minor details may make a large difference
when establishing cover crops during variable growing conditions in the fall.
If you are considering saving your own cover crop seed, this will require
understanding of the reproductive systems of different species. Information is
widely available regarding how to select and save seed from many plant species,
including websites such as http://www.seedsave.org/
and general information about cover crop rates and seeding techniques for
TAKE ACTION: USDA CLOSE TO APPROVING GENETICALLY ENGINEERED PLUMS
Sates Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now accepting public comments
regarding the commercial approval of a genetically engineered plum, known as
"C5." The approval of C5 would be the first widely released
genetically engineered (GE) tree in the
Learn more and Take Action: http://alerts.organicconsumers.org/trk/click?ref=zqtbkk3um_0-1ex23ex3217238&
SUCCESSFUL LAWSUIT FORCES EPA TO PHASE OUT DANGEROUS PESTICIDE
A lawsuit filed by the United Farmworkers of America against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has forced the agency to begin phasing out a highly toxic organophosphate pesticide that has contaminated food and poisoned farmworkers. The pesticide, azinphos-methyl ("AZM"), is used on a variety of food crops, including potatoes, cranberries, and peaches. AZM is a highly toxic neurotoxin derived from nerve agents used during World War II. In 2001, the EPA found that AZM posed unacceptable risks to farmworkers, but due to industry pressure, the agency kept it on the market. "This pesticide has put thousands of workers at risk of serious illness every year," said Erik Nicholson of the United Farmworkers of America. The EPA will phase out AZM over the next four years.
NATION'S LARGEST DAIRIES TRYING TO AVOID MONSANTO'S BOVINE GROWTH HORMONE
retailers and distributors of milk and dairy products in the
More and more… our body knows what it needs!! I always said, “When you crave a food it because you are lacking something contained in that food/drink.” Cheers!!!
COFFEE PROTECTS DRINKERS' LIVERS: A study published in the journal "Archives of Internal Medicine" indicates that coffee may greatly reduce the risk of liver damage in those who consume alcohol regularly. Every daily cup of coffee reduced the incidence of cirrhosis, a condition that destroys liver tissue, by 22 percent, according to researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program. However, Dr. Arthur Klatsky, the leader of the study, said the results "should not be interpreted as giving a license to drink without worry, because of all the other problems connected with drinking." adding, "the only proper advice is to drink less."
INGREDIENT REDUCES PROSTATE CANCER RISK: A new study from researchers at
Nurse says tea good for what ails
Garden supplies ingredients for medicinal
Dotting the fertile valley around her
Since leaving her job as a registered nurse at Munson Medical Center to become a master gardener, Macke has been more in tune with the rhythms of nature and the peace and satisfaction that working among it brings. They're the same feelings she associates with the ancient ritual of tea, which she's enjoyed all her life.
many people, drinking tea is about this simple lifestyle, about slowing down
and spending time with kids and family," said Macke, who has a husband and
two young children.
A native of
Deciding she could do better, she began to blend her own high-quality loose leaf teas using herbs and flowers from her organic gardens, giving them away as Christmas gifts. Teas in loose leaf form not only taste better, but have more benefits, she said.
What began as a hobby soon blossomed into a cottage industry called By the Light of Day. Now Macke produces 36 blends of black, green, white and oolong teas, plus fruit melange, chakras, tisanes -- an infusion of anything but tea -- and red tisanes.
With names like Leelanau Licorice and
"It's the real article," said Macke, whose tea leaves come from certified organic and fair trade farms in
Starting with a base leaf, she scents it with oil, then adds herbs, flowers, fruits and other ingredients she either freeze-dries or dries in an oven or food dehydrator. Careful drying extends the tea's shelf life, she said.
"With my teas, it's forever because it's down to three percent moisture. Normally it's three years," she added.
In keeping with her philosophy that people need to know what they're putting in their bodies, Macke lists all the ingredients in her teas. For instance, her Creamy Earl Gray blend starts with black
Most of the ingredients are grown on her 12-acre property, almost a quarter of which is given over to thousands of herb and flower plants like cornflowers and chrysanthemums, lemon balm and lemon grass, chamomile, lavender and assorted mints. She harvests them all summer long. There are also assorted berry bushes, fruit trees and grapes for raisins.
Other fruit is supplied by local Community Supported Agriculture farms or, in the case of tropical fruit, by other
Little by little, Macke is also growing her own tea. She purchased 10 tea plants called Camellia sinensis from a
Although the evergreen shrubs are indigenous to Asia -- Zone 8, as compared to northern
On the market for only a year, Macke's tea line is sold at nearly two dozen locations around the region and as far away as
"Tea is being touted as having a lot of health benefits, so people are picking up that message," said Bruce Vaughan, owner of Silver Tree Deli and Cafe, a Suttons Bay delicatessen and wine and spirit shop where Macke's teas are sold and served. "And teas are less acidic so they don't tend to mess with your stomach like coffee does. With black tea, you can still get a nice punch of caffeine."
Since introducing Macke's line, the store has gone from preparing tea the generic way -- with a bag in a cup of hot water -- to brewing and serving it in individual teapots,
Organic Vegetable and Crop Outreach Specialist
C.S. Mott Sustainable Food Systems
303 Natural Resources Bldg.
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