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Trees

Faster drop for a new crop
Spring 2017

Faster drop for a new crop

Water and time are money if you’re a farmer. Trees are especially slow, and to get a new apple variety growing at a commercial scale can take years. It not only takes a couple of years after planting for fruit production to start, but it’s a long time just getting trees to plant.

The number of trees needed to plant a commercial-scale orchard is daunting. Even a small orchard of 100 acres needs nearly a quarter million trees to get going. And while it might take only a couple years to “raise a few rootstocks, thousands can take many years,” Washington State University apple breeder … » More …

Winter 2016

Saving citrus from a sour end

An invader is sweeping like fire through the citrus groves of Florida. The Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus bacterium causes citrus greening, a disease that block trees’ nutrient and water channels and prevents fruit from ripening.

“It’s like choking the tree from the inside out,” says David Gang, a Washington State University molecular biologist and biochemist who is collaborating with a large, multi-institution, interdisciplinary team to combat the disease. If left unaddressed, the entire U.S. citrus industry could be wiped out and, as Florida Senator Bill Nelson said a few years ago, “We’ll end up paying $5 for an orange—and it’ll have to be one imported from … » More …

Winter 2016

Wood Takes Wing

The most complex chemistry lab on the planet is growing in your neighborhood. There might be a tree in your own backyard, cranking out chemicals as it converts sunlight to food, wards off pests, and circulates water and nutrients through it roots, branches, and leaves.

So diverse is the chemical compendium produced by trees that we get aspirin (willow bark is a natural source of salicylic acid and has been used to treat pain since ancient times), the ink Leonardo used in his notebooks (from leaf galls produced by wasp larvae), and natural antibacterials (the fiber in cedar chips is used to make hospital gowns).

» More …

Gary Chastagner. Photo Robert Hubner
Winter 2013

Ask Mr. Christmas Tree

If you’re looking for Gary Chastagner around this time of year, you would do well to put out an all-points bulletin to Wherever Christmas Trees Are Sold. He’s perused trees up and down the West Coast, as well as in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Arizona, and Texas. Just look for the cheerful fellow taking clippings, bending needles, and chatting up the owners about things like moisture content and needle retention.

 

“My family knows that if it’s Christmas time, I’m usually around looking at Christmas tree lots,” he says.

Chastagner, officially a plant pathologist with the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center, is … » More …

Spring 2012

The Lowell Elm

 

The Lowell Elm at WSU. Staff photo

Harriet Bryan, wife of Washington Agricultural College president Enoch Bryan, planted the Lowell Elm in 1893. She had brought the seedling to her new home from Elmwood, the estate of James Russell Lowell, near Harvard University, where her husband had earned his master of arts degree shortly before becoming Washington State College’s first long-term president. Staff photo

Madrone leaf blight
Spring 2012

A blighted Northwest icon

Last March, Gary Chastagner was driving around southwest Oregon scouting test plots for a study of madrone, the gnarly, reddish-brown tree found up and down the West Coast. A variety of diseases had been hitting the trees in recent years, and Chastagner, a plant pathologist in WSU’s Puyallup Research and Extension Center, was undertaking a study to see if some varieties might be more disease resistant than others.

Driving between Roseburg and Medford, he started seeing entire slopes of trees that looked decidedly disease prone.

“It just looked like someone went through with a blowtorch,” Chastagner recalls.

County extension agents and natural resource … » More …

Winter 2005

Magpie Forest: Protecting a piece of the past

Magpie Forest is like something out of the Wizard of Oz, a strange green land in the middle of a field.

Nestled in a 33-acre parcel of wheat north of Pullman, the 14-acre tract is a remnant of the original Palouse prairie. Last spring, Washington State University purchased the property from a local landowner to protect it from being developed.

Accessible only through a network of game trails, the spot is covered with hawthorn thickets, quaking aspen, mountain ash, and native shrubs, grasses, and flowering plants. The University hopes to upgrade these trails and encourage people to visit the property. Plans for an access road … » More …

Fall 2007

Trees return to Ireland

Once upon a time, Ireland was mostly forest. In prehistoric and early historic times, trees covered an estimated 90-95 percent of the landscape. But English invasions, rebellions, and industrial demands moved the landscape toward its modern austere treelessness.

A hundred years ago, barely 1 percent of Ireland was forested. Now forest has reclaimed 10 percent of the landscape, and the Irish government would like to raise that coverage to 17 percent. Toward that goal, it has mounted a reforestation campaign, backed by a program of grants to landowners to plant trees. Trouble is, the Irish haven’t been used to seeing forest as part of their … » More …

Summer 2008

Northwest Trees: Identifying and Understanding the Region’s Native Trees

Stephen F. Arno ’65 and Ramona P. Hammerly
The Mountaineers Books, Seattle, 2007

Trees recall memories. Both thicken through the years, become storm-roughened, and may persist despite broken branches. We look at trees the way we look to memories as familiar waymarks in our personal landscapes. The new edition of Stephen Arno (’65 Forestry) and Ramona Hammerly’s Northwest Trees offers to enlarge one’s landscape of trees. The beauty of this book, with its insights and … » More …