This is part of our continuing coverage of the Farwest Show. Keep checking back for updates. This post concerns Day One of the Farwest Show Tours, specifically, Tour 1, the Gen(i)us Acer tour on Tuesday, August 21, 2012.
Our fourth stop was Arrowhead Ornamentals, one of the newest nurseries in the state. The Coleman family founded the nursery in 2008 after purchasing farms from a long-established company, A. McGill and Sons, that had decided to exit the nursery business. “(The business) had already been down a couple years, and we thought it would pick back up,” nursery manager Mike Coleman said. It hasn’t yet happened, but the Colemans are hopeful that things are beginning to turn around and will continue to do so.
The Colemans are diversified in multiple senses of the word. In terms of nursery stock, they grow bare-root trees, B&B, and containerized material. In terms of agriculture, they farm row vegetables and hops in addition to their nursery crops.
During the tour at Arrowhead, a demonstration of budding techniques was the highlight. Budding is a propagation technique similar to grafting. It involves cutting buds from scion wood and grafting it onto rootstock. The top of the rootstock is cut away the following spring, resulting in a seedling with a one-year top and a two-year root system. The workers who perform the highly precise budding operation on each seedling are a wonder to watch. They work in teams, the first doing the budding and the second sealing the union either with grafting bands or a plastic seal. Highly skilled from years of practice, they are practically a blur as they work their way down each row. Some crouch down to perform the work, but others prefer to work underneath a budding cart, which offers both efficiency and shade.
The workers rest face down, supported by a pad under their bellies that is suspended from the cart frame. The cart has four bicycle wheels on it and is covered with cloth, allowing the workers to labor in relative shade. Once a worker completes one budding operation, he just pushes the cart forward to the next seedling.
br>If you’re wondering what this has to do with Acers, wonder no further. Various types of maples — including red maple and Norway maple — are among the selections propagated through budding. You can see more photos from the Arrowhead tour at the Farwest Show Facebook page at www.facebook.com/farwestshow.