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May 17-18, 2014 Show Notes

Oklahoma Gardening show notes from May 17-18, 2014. (#4046)

Bear Creek Farms

In this segment we visit Bear Creek Farms in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  Owned and operated by Vicki and Terry Stamback, Bear Creek Farms has been producing specialty cut flowers for over 17 years.  There is much more to producing a cut flower than many people might realize.  At Bear Creek, all flowers are produced from seed.  Seeds are sown into small trays and left to germinate.  Once plants produce their first set of true leaves they are transplanted into plugs.  These are grown until a healthy root system develops.  From here, plants either move into a greenhouse or the field.  The greenhouse is reserved for high value crops and those that struggle in Oklahoma’s challenging climate.  It is also used for winter flower production. 

In the greenhouse, space is a premium.  Plants are set close together which not only conserves space but also encourages long, straight stems.  Transplants are planted in successions one to two weeks apart to ensure a continuous supply of fresh cut flowers.

In the field, crops change from week to week.  Over 250,000 plants are grown in the fields each season, representing some of the 150 different flower species grown at Bear Creek.  When mature, flowers are harvested into buckets of water and transported to the head house for processing.  There, foliage at the base of the stem is removed and flowers are wrapped in bundles.  The stems are cut once again as a bundle to ensure an even length and bundles are set in one of several solutions and held in cold storage until delivery. 

Grafting Pecans

In this segment we visit Mr. Dick Hoffman and Hoffman Pecan Farm in Payne County for a grafting demonstration.  There are two primary styles of grafting utilized in pecans.  A bark or in-lay graft is used on trees 1 to 4 inches in diameter.  For smaller root stocks between ½ and ¾ inch in diameter, the four-flap method is employed. 

The modified inlay bark graft process is one of the most convenient methods of pecan grafting.  It involves cutting off most or the entire top of a small growing pecan tree, grafting desirable new graftwood at the cut, and then watching the tree produce a new top.  This is done during April and May in Oklahoma, soon after growth starts and the bark begins to slip on the stock trees.  The bark on the scion, or graftwood, must be tight, however.  Stock for the grafts must be dormant when cut during the winter usually in late December through February and kept in cold storage until used.  Successful bud growth is on the way when callus tissue forms between the stock tree and the scion.  Extension Fact sheet HLA-6204 Bark Grafting Pecans describes the process demonstrated here in detail. 

Sometimes called the “banana” graft, the four-flap grafting technique is one of the easiest ways to convert small seedling pecan trees and branches of larger trees.  The necessary cuts and “fits” of the four-flap graft are not as precise as for most other pecan propagation methods; therefore, it is a good method for beginners.  The four-flap graft allows much cambium contact between the scion and the stock.  This cambium contact is necessary for callus formation and subsequent successful graft union.  This graft works best when the graftwood (scion) is slightly larger than the stock (trunk or limb).

You may begin grafting when the bark slips freely.  Slipping is when the bark will separate easily from the wood.  Normally, this is late April in southern Oklahoma and early May in the northern parts of the state.  Four-flap grafts can be installed during the same period of time as the common bark graft.  Due to heat, grafting season usually ends by early June. Grafting is most successful on cool and cloudy days.  Avoid days with high temperatures and drying winds.  Learn more about four-flap grafting in OCES Fact Sheet HLA-6230 Four-Flap Grafting of Pecans.

Cooking with Barbara

Barbara Brown, Extension Food Specialist, prepares a savory strawberry topping (recipe).

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