Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cutting Walnuts

I spent part of the day yesterday cutting areas infested with Black Walnut trees. This field is bordered by mature walnuts and the squirrels take the nuts and bury them everywhere. The result is a forest of walnut sprouts.

Many of these sprouts have been cut before. Not only cut, they’ve been sprayed with glyphosate herbicide and I thought, killed. It was quite a surprise when some of the cut stumps sprouted the next spring. They not only grew back, they sent up four sprouts for every one I had cut.

Everything you see here is the result of a single year’s growth. That clump in the foreground is nearly seven feet tall. If I don’t at least cut them each year, they’ll be 20 foot tall trees in just a few years.

Now they’re cut and marked. Walnuts are somewhat resistant to the herbicide I use, but that isn’t the reason I have trouble controlling them. Walnuts begin growing later than anything else in the field, so by the time I spray, the sprouts are hidden by surrounding foliage. Their growth is so rapid that there is only a small window when they are the optimum size for spraying. Weather and work often make me miss the best spraying date. The last concern is the fact that in late summer, when I should be giving the sprouts a second shot of spray, the chiggers have taken control of the walnut treatment areas. Whatever makes the walnuts grow so well here, must also spur the chiggers into reproductive excess. The thought of all those chiggers usually convinces me that my efforts are most needed elsewhere and the walnuts never get their second treatment.

The cut sprouts decompose quickly and won’t be noticeable next year. I think I’ll just have to ignore the chiggers this summer and make a determined effort the get rid of these walnuts.

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