Management on fruit trees
News, September 2014:
Responses in 2011 to 2013 were good (thank you to those who have contributed so far!), but responses were not as numerous as they could be, possibly because of the complexity of the combined questionnaires (and some confused press coverage).
So, from 2014/15 onwards, a simplified set of surveys are being launched, aimed particularly at orchard managers in the mistletoe-growing areas of Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Monmouthshire.
The new survey material will be launched in November 2014.
New material will be posted on this page soon.
The problems, as currently perceived: Several problems seem to be arising for mistletoe because of this fruit tree association. Firstly, the huge, and continuing, loss of traditional orchards in recent decades must be reducing opportunities for cropping mistletoe, and reducing the harvest long-term. But how significant is this problem? We have no figures for mistletoe trading, and no way to tell whether the threat is really becoming critical yet, and if not yet, when it will be.
Secondly, the decline in economic value for the remaining traditional orchards means that many are significantly neglected.
The fruit crop is often left on the ground in these 'remnant' orchards and the trees left
A side-effect of this, in mistletoe's core growing areas. is (ironically) a glut of mistletoe. Fruit trees, particularly apple, in the neglected orchards of this area often develop huge growths of mistletoe - far too prolific for the tree to support, and leading to premature death of both tree and mistletoe.
In the short to medium-term there might seem to be plenty of mistletoe in these situations, but it is clearly not sustainable.
But, as with the first problem, no data exist to measure this problem. A key unknown is how the owners and
managers of these orchards perceive the mistletoe - do they understand the issue, are they acting on it, do they
know what to do, if not why not, is it simply to do with economics and manpower, and so on.
Not just orchards - garden trees too: The management issue also arises in gardens with mistletoe, where it is not unusual to see an apple tree festooned with abundant mistletoe, of which many gardeners are very proud. But the amount can quickly become unsustainable and it is not unusual to hear of prized mistletoe trees suddenly dying, or falling in winter storms. But most information is anecdotal - is this a real problem or not?