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Seed Production Update - January, 2014
In a change from recent trends, weather patterns in the Pacific Northwest have been much dryer than normal. This causes increasing concerns for the area as the snowpack is well below average. After harvest 2013, we did receive some early fall rain which caused some harvest problems with the late crops, but started a very good planting season when the weather changed to a beautiful and warm open fall. This was perfect for establishing new seedings and for fall recovery and regrowth of established fields. It was also perfect for the tiny slugs that can give seed farmers such fits. Temporary relief from the slugs came in the form of very unusually cold weather in early December which brought its own set of issues. Unusually cold weather increases the activity of the herbicide on the plants. This helps with the targeted weeds, but can mean increased damage to the crop. Our beautiful green Willamette Valley shows a lot more winter stress than usual and many fields look like some form of brown or gray from the road.
By Steve Wysall for The Vancouver Sun
Is it time to get rid of your lawn and try something different? It might be hard to imagine what you would have instead of a lawn but there are all sorts of creative alternatives. In West Vancouver, for instance, Chris and Rick Alexander have a lawn of white microclover. When they finished renovating their home on Fulton Avenue and putting in new drainage, their old lawn and garden was pretty much destroyed. Instead of re-turfing with grass, they decided to try sowing microclover – a newly developed form of clover that has softer stems and is shade tolerant as well as considerably drought resistant.
At the time, the makers of the new seed were reluctant to sell it without mixing it with 10 per cent grass seed, so the Alexanders were forced to buy it as a clover-grass mix. “I wish we could have done it all in clover,” says Rick. “The clover has been fantastic; it is the grass that is the problem now because it doesn’t look like the rest.” Nevertheless, the Alexanders are happy with their decision and have found that their new clover lawn stays green all year round, even through the drought days of summer. It requires less watering, no fertilizing and is easy to trim. “People are always stopping to ask us about it,” says Rick. “We cut it once a week. The original plan was not to cut it at all but we find a trim once a week in summer keeps it looking good.”The Alexanders bought their seed from David Wall, of Premier Pacific Seeds, who is introducing it to the Lower Mainland. “Many years of breeding and selection have resulted in revolutionary micro-clovers,” he says. “When it is combined with grass, the microclover spoon feeds the grass with nitrogen, making a lawn healthy and vigorous.” The white clover also crowds out weeds, preventing new ones getting established, and it also stays green all year round. “And nothing tolerates mowing like microclover does because of the unique dense structure of the leaves.” [Click here for original article]
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