Tom's Blog

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Big push on bramble control

For the past two weeks we have been carrying out a big push to control brambles in our savannas. The successful burns we had about a month ago top-killed most of the bramble canes and they are now resprouting from the base. A perfect time to spray, because they are relatively small, which means we don't need to use much herbicide. Also, we can avoid most of the "good" plants nearby. The new shoots are often right next to the old cane (as in the photo below), but not always. Because of the extensive underground root system of the brambles, new shoots also arise at other spots.

We are dealing here with two major bramble species, black raspberry and red raspberry. The latter is the most difficult, because it forms dense clones of short, closely growing stems. Black raspberry, on the other hand, has long arching stems which tip-root, making a traverse of the area difficult. We also have the occasional blackberry and dewberry patch, but these are easier to deal with. The photo below shows a typical pose of the bramble worker. You have to keep your eyes on the ground, so you don't get much chance to enjoy the scenery. However, this is a quiet activity, so you can really enjoy the birds (which are really vocal this time of year!).

We have been spraying every day for the past two weeks, with personnel varying from day to day. Tuesday May 20 we had six people, four paid and two volunteers.

I have found it very advisable to wear thick, bramble-proof pants for this work. You have to wade right into the middle of these patches to get every plant. We add blue dye to our spray solution in order to keep track of where we have already sprayed. This is an invaluable tool .

The weather has been great for spraying, although we really need some rain.


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