Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Field Mowing - Part 5

South end of the big field is finished. North end has about two more hours to go. That makes a total of 12.2 acres completed so far. I estimate that I’ve traveled about 55 miles with JR so far, not counting trips to the barn and back. There’s no great concentration of red flags near the center of the field. I figure the areas near the middle of the field won’t need mowed again for at least five years.

Thick stands of goldenrods must provide conditions similar to that on the forest floor. Ferns such as this Ebony Spleenwort abound here. The allelopathic property of goldenrods inhibits growth of many species of plants. Ferns seem not to be adversely impacted by this effect.

Another delayed bloomer puts in a bid for last bloom of the year. The basal leaves of Oxeye sometimes remain green through the winter, so it’s not unreasonable to find one flowering late in the season. I’d prefer to see a native species using its range of genetic variation to increase its chances of dominating the area.

My mowing activities are an effort to eliminate deciduous trees and shrubs from the field. There are other invaders, such as this Eastern Red Cedar, that need a different control method.

Mowing just takes the top of the little cedars. As long as there is green growth left, the cedar will continue to grow. To kill a cedar, you must cut it off below the lowest bunch of green leaves. The most effective way to deal with this tree is to cut it at ground level with a pair of loppers. To accomplish this in a systematic manner, I mow paths in the field to form a grid and then search and cut little cedars grid block at a time. I’ll be doing that out here next year. Bluebird boxes serve to mark grid line intersections, so I can recreate the same grid pattern each time.

Autumn Olive continues to become more common. This shrub grows as a tangle that is hard to deal with and will quickly rebound if conditions are not perfect at the time you apply herbicide. At least I’ve reached the point where the majority of Autumn Olive here are kept at a non-fruiting stage. Of course, that doesn’t do a lot of good when the surrounding farms produce plenty of fruit and the birds are quite willing to deliver seeds.

In the center of the clump is the dead stump from the original bush that I treated a few years ago. When dealing with large Autumn Olive, glyphosate herbicide will kill the stump, but fail to move through the entire root system. The result is a forest of root sprouts that need to be sprayed the following year. Why didn’t I come back and spray this clump? The standard answer is that I was doing something else that seemed more important at the time. I’ll try to do better this time.

This is what the clump of Autumn Olive looked like after JR got through with it. I only put one flag to mark this spot. When spraying Autumn Olive regrowth, you automatically look around the immediate area to make sure you’re not missing any other sprouts. I’m thinking of marking sites like this with a wooden lath so I can keep a closer eye on it through the year.

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