Fraser firs top the list of favorite Christmas tree varieties, but almost all the Fraser firs sold in Georgia come from North Carolina. One University of Georgia horticulturist is working to change that by popularizing a hybrid that combines Fraser firs with their Japanese cousins — Momi firs. Climate wrong and fungus strongGeorgia’s hot summers and mild winters make it difficult for farmers to grow Fraser firs in most of the state. They will grow in north Georgia, but the downside is the tree can be affected by the root fungus Phytophthora infestans. If not treated, it can kill infected plants.Fir trees also produce new growth very early in spring, which makes them susceptible to the freezing temperatures that sometimes pop up in late March and damage Georgia crops. “When new shoots start to grow in early spring, they are often severely damaged or killed by the below-32-degree temperatures that we often have during the spring here in Georgia and much of the Southeast,” said Mark Czarnota, a horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.Breeding a new FraserUsing a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, Czarnota is working to find other alternatives for Georgia Christmas tree farmers. Working in association with Georgia Christmas tree growers in Lovejoy and Terrytown, Ga., Czarnota grafts Fraser firs onto containerized Momi fir rootstock on the UGA campus in Griffin, Ga.A native of Japan, the Momi fir (Abies firma Siebold & Zucc.) made its debut in Georgia in the early ‘90s. Momi firs are more tolerant of the Phytophthora fungus and of Georgia’s weather, but they aren’t perfect. “The planting culture of Momi fir is very different from most other Christmas tree species that growers were currently growing,” he said. “Needless to say, Momi firs’ first introduction was a miserable failure.” He has been grafting Fraser firs onto Momi firs for the past 17 years. In the beginning, it took 10 years for him to grow an 8- to 9-foot tree. “I can now produce a 5- to 6-foot tree in five to six years,” he said. Growers in the Southeast also weren’t happy that it takes six to eight years for the tree to reach a desirable Christmas tree size. Traditional Georgia Christmas tree species like Leland cypress and Virginia pine are mature enough to sell in three to four years. When it comes to growing Christmas trees, the sooner a tree matures, the sooner the farmer can take it to market. Momi firs can grow in Georgia, but farmers have to be careful to provide irrigation to young plants for two or three years and adjust soil pH to around 6.5, he said.Needs to grow quicker Worthington was one of the first growers to try to grow firs in the Georgia piedmont region. He hopes to someday grow enough Fraser firs to avoid buying from growers in western North Carolina. One of Czarnota’s collaborators, 84-year-old Earl Worthington, grows Christmas trees in Lovejoy, Ga. “I don’t expect it to take over the market, but it would be a great addition,” he said. “A lot of work needs to be done in selecting good Momi grafting stock for desirable uniformity. It’s a lifetime project, and great potential exists in trying to cross Momi fir with other firs.”Others working on project, tooResearcher John Frampton at North Carolina State University is trying to cross breed Momi and Fraser fir to breed a hybrid Phytophthora-resistant fir. In the meantime, he is encouraging North Carolina growers to plant Momi-Fraser grafts. Czarnota hopes to combine the hardy Momi fir rootstock and Fraser scion, or shoot, into a tree that will grow throughout much of Georgia and the Southeast. The biggest problem he now faces with grafting efforts is the inconsistencies. “Some (of the trees) turn out very yellow, some very stiff, some are green all year, some flush early and some flush late,” Worthington said. “Grafting trees is definitely a project for someone with patience.”
Source: Vermont Economic Development Dept. 9.9.9. The Douglas Administration is reminding people who may want to apply for an Act 250 permit that they can reduce the risk and upfront costs associated with the process by seeking to have the most problematic aspects of a project reviewed first. Rule 21 of Act 250, which allows a District Commission to conduct a review of less than all of a project’s Act 250 criteria in exchange for a minimum filing fee, has been on the books a long time, but is rarely used, officials said.“The economy is showing some signs of recovery, but in these uncertain times nobody wants to unnecessarily invest scarce capital without knowing the magnitude of risk involved in obtaining a reasonable return,” said Tayt Brooks, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development.“With this in mind, we’d like to remind anyone who is considering applying for an Act 250 permit that there is a rule in place to provide for partial reviews of proposed projects, thereby reducing the cost associated with risk,” he said.Under Act 250, the state’s development control law, proposed development projects must satisfy 10 criteria including impacts on the environment; traffic; local schools and services; and aesthetics.The fee for such projects generally is $4.75 per $1,000 construction cost, meaning a $100,000 project would cost $475, while a $1 million project would cost $4,750.But under Rule 21, an applicant can ask a District Commission to review a project against a particularly uncertain or potentially contentious criterion by paying only $150 instead of the standard fee.“This allows an applicant to avoid the risk – and cost – of preparing and submitting an entire permit application only to find out that one aspect of the project is going to be an insurmountable obstacle,” Brooks said.If project receives approval under the criterion or criteria, the rest of the proposal could be heard and the full application fee paid later, at which time the less contentious criteria would be reviewed. This would also allow developers to lay the groundwork for projects now, and then begin construction when the economic situation has become more favorable and financing more available.The partial findings and conclusions are valid for a period of time (usually up to five years) and are binding unless appealed within 30 days. “If the District Commission rules against an applicant, they can appeal the decision; modify the project; or decide the project was not worth investing any more funds, having lost only a minimal Act 250 fee and the cost of preparing a partial application,” Brooks said.For questions pertaining to Rule 21, interested parties may contact their local District Coordinator or Brooks at (802) 828-5218 or at email@example.com(link sends e-mail) -30-
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Chef Alexcia Smith of Valley Stream faced off against celebrity Chef Bobby Flay on Thursday on the Food Network’s cooking competition show Beat Bobby Flay in a Mean Girls-themed episode hosted by Tina Fey.In the first round, Flay challenged Smith and her competitor, stuntwoman-turned-chef Asia Mei, to make the best dish using rutabaga as the main ingredient for the chance to take on Flay in round two. Smith’s rustic rutabaga puree with a warm rutabaga hash won out over Mei’s kimchi rutabaga rösti with rutabaga green apple slaw. But once Smith took on Flay in round two, she had backup from Fey, who started reading from a “Bobby Flay Burnt Book.”“Somebody started a petition that says ‘Keep Bobby Flay out of the Hamptons,’ signed by Ina Garten, Katie Lee, Neil Patrick Harris, Rachael Ray,” joked Fey, as she tried to psyche out Flay so he would lose.That’s because Fey and Flay made a bet that if he lost to Smith, he would have to cook for all 70 members of the Mean Girls‘ Broadway production. Smith chose lamb shwarma as her signature dish to compete against Flay, but in the end, three independent taste testers named Flay the winner — yet Flay cooked for the production crew anyway.Born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in Hempstead, 34-year-old Chef Smith graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in 2006, which served to launch a career that found her managing food services for corporate clients, such as The New York Times and Condé Nast. Today she is a private chef, who has worked for a number of celebrities, such as Bow Wow and Alicia Keys, and provides catering, cooking lessons, and host of other services.“I came here to prove that private chefs play a major role in this game and I’m still really proud of what I accomplished tonight,” she said.For those who missed it, the episode, “Fey vs. Flay,” will air again air on November 3 and 4 or can be purchased on YouTube.