It’s been so busy on the mistletoe front over the last week or so I’ve not had time to blog, but here’s a brief, but important, announcement (other updates on what’s been going on will follow soon…).
Mistletoe Orchards Wanted!!
As part of my work to promote sustainable management of mistletoe I’ve just launched a modest initiative to find apple orchards which can be used to experiment with/demonstrate best practice.
What’s the problem?? Well, good mistletoe husbandry – pruning to limit damage to the host tree, whilst ensuring a continued mistletoe crop – is becoming rare. Too many old apple orchards have become overwhelmed by mistletoe, often because the valueless unberried male plants are left untouched at Christmas. This is a growing problem for both traditional orchards and for the future mistletoe crop. In just a few years we will see yet more old apple trees succumb to the increased senescence and susceptibility to wind-blow that can be caused by uncontrolled mistletoe, particularly by large male plants. The loss of these trees will, in turn, lead to a shortage of harvestable mistletoe. (Mistletoe ‘in the wild’ – in limes, poplars and willows, is self-managing and unthreatened, but is unharvestable too!)
There’s no funding, yet, for this demonstration project, so I think it will start small – but I’ll be looking into possible grant-aid schemes soon. The initial plan is just to get the idea disseminated around orchard owners and conservation groups, hoping that some will volunteer their sites for this season. Full details are available in this pdf download – you’ll see I’m looking particularly at apple orchards in the "3 Counties" (Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire) where mistletoe is fairly pelntiful, but I’ll consider further afield too.