Once you see one, you start seeing them everywhere.
The first warm rain in the spring makes these spores appear on Red Cedar (Juniper) trees, completing part of its life cycle. Red Cedar is a first-growth conifer pretty common in Vermont in abandoned pastures, along roads, and elsewhere, so finding these disgusting things aren’t hard. Sometimes they are as big as your fist, sometimes just a golf ball, but they are always bright orange, and disgustingly slimy and gelatinous. I remember being thrown one by my landscaper employer in Connecticut, and being grossed out for the entire rest of the day, catching it absentmindedly.
This is brought to you by a fungus called Cedar Apple Rust, latin name (brace yourself) Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae. The fungus is a ‘dual-host’ fungus, needing two different type plants to complete its life cycle. Part is on the Red Cedar, where small galls sit and lie in wait for the warm rain in the spring to activate. They can be mistaken for cones for those not totally up on their conifer botany. Once activated, spores then alight on the wind, and carry to apple trees (or crabapples), where they infect the twigs and leaves. On this host, it appears like small orange or yellow spots. These spots then produce spores in July or August, and re-infect the juniper.
Because of the ubiquity of Eastern Red Cedar control is very, very difficult. Like many things, the best techinique is prevention, which entails removing all cedar from within a mile (!) of the orchard. Fungicide sprays are effective, but need to be done now, which is another whole host of problems, seeing as the apples and crabapples are starting to bloom, a delicate time to say the least. Apples and crabapples vary in their susceptibility to the disease. I fell in love with a crabapple once, a double flowered variety named ‘Brandywine’, with dark pink flowers like tiny roses (I won’t post a picture and tease you too), only to watch it totally defoliate by the end of July-not a leaf left the rest of the year-all from a severe infection. Resistant varieties can be found, though, and are probably a good idea.
We’re a little removed from Lake Champlain up in Middlebury, but probably not as far as you think. My own house sits above the Lemon Fair River, draining into the Otter Creek north of Middlebury, which empties into Lake Champlain just north of Vergennes. The lake itself also drains to the north, out the St. Laurence Seaway, which seems counter-intuitive. Everything is supposed to flow south and down, right? Wikipedia says the residence time (the amount of time the lake turns itself over) is 3.3 years. That’s some serious water flow.
The lake peaked a day or so ago at 103.25 feet, that’s the elevation above sea level. It is considered above flood stage at anything over 100′, and seems to spend most of the summer at about 95.5′ above sea level. That means the lake is 7 3/4 feet (!) higher than normal. The previous record, which I remember from a job being a caretaker on a lakefront property, was 101.88′. So all that snow we were cursing this winter? It’s still around.
The Lake Champlain Basin Program has a picture gallery up of flooding and sediment flow that’s worth a look, and below is an animated GIF from the National Weather Service of Hi-Res satellite pictures of the snow melting off the Green Mountains.
Over on the Turf Battle blog, I’ve posted the plan we’ve developed for the Atwater area of campus. It is still a work in progress, and I’d like to invite all my readers to add comments or suggestions. As we (hopefully) start construction this summer I’ll be posting updates here on Middland.
And by the way, I swear I just saw the sun. At least I think that’s what it was.
As you would expect from a bunch of tree fanatics, Arbor Day is a flexible holiday. The national holiday is the last Friday in April, but Vermont has snow experience in April, and pushes the date back to the first Friday in May. Here at Middlebury, we’re pushing it back even a little further, as a welcome diversion from studying for finals.
Come Celebrate Middlebury College’s Arbor Day
Wednesday May 11
Take a break before Finals start and celebrate Middlebury’s new title as a Tree Campus USA, designated by the Arbor Day Foundation! After over a year of planning and coordination, Middlebury was named a Tree Campus by the Arbor Day Foundation for 2010 this February. We are one of only two schools in New England to receive this recognition.
The schedule for our celebration is the following:
1:30 pm- Tree campus tour, beginning from McCullough patio, ending at Bi-Hall, in time for—
3:00 pm- Tree planting, located between Coffrin and Bihall. Plant your legacy on campus. Planters get eternal gratitude, and an ice cream sandwich.
4:30 pm- Tree-K running race (3mi, starting from McCullough patio and following the cross country course). Touch 20 or so trees on the McCullough Quad before finishing back at the patio. Fastest Male and Female students win a gift card to the Campus Bookstore, Fastest Faculty/Staff to win a blueberry bush.
5:00 pm- Saplings kids’ race (1/4 mi loop around the main quad in front of Old Chapel, start at the McCullough Patio)-Prizes and ice cream for all kids.