[nafex] Are your plants working for you? AKA, Ruthless culling

jhecksel at voyager.net jhecksel at voyager.net
Wed Dec 27 19:46:07 EST 2000


Hello all:

I feel a need to justify my culling philosophy.

Among other things, I raise sheep.  The sheep industry is in the midst
of a massive shake-out.  One of the rallying cries is "Are your animals
working for you?  Or are you working for your animals?"  Sheep are
adorable little critters.  Occasionally, one of the ewes will abandon
her lambs and the shepherd will bottle feed the little lambs.  The risk
is that the shepherd (or family) will bond to the helpless lambs and
will insist on their inclusion in the breeding flock.  Some portion of
mothering ability is learned.  A portion is purely due to circumstances
(lightening strikes, for instance).  A large portion is genetic....at
least for sheep.  Keeping abandoned lambs (and their mothers) in the
breeding flock virtually guarantees poor mothering.  It only takes a few
generations before the shepherd becomes a slave to the flock rather than
the flock being seamlessly integrated into the farm economy and making a
positive contribution.

Soooo, I perceive that the same thing can happen with fruit.  Sometimes
it is that peach tree in Zone 5b that I must give mouth-to-mouth
resuscitation.  Sometimes it is a cultivar (Cox Orange Pippen springs to
mind) of notable quality and fussiness of culture.  That is well and
good for those of us who know what we are getting into and we know that
we are buying lottery tickets.  I buy my share of lottery tickets but I
tear them up when I have sufficient evidence they are losers, that is,
they will not seamlessly integrate into my "farm" economy and make a
positive contribution.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Slightly different topic:  Ed, what "basics" do you see novice fruit
growers most often violating?   I offer poor choice of
species/cultivar/rootstock, planting in shady sites, and no after-care
as the boo-boos I see most often.
-- 

                                                     -Joe Hecksel
                                                      Eaton Rapids,
Michigan

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