European Experts Don’t Agree On Risks of Glyphosate

The Salt at NPR:

Glyphosate, widely known by its trade name, Roundup, probably gets more attention than any other herbicide. It’s one of world’s most-used weedkillers, and it is also closely linked to the growth of genetically modified crops.

Monsanto invented Roundup, and also invented crops that grow well when it’s used on them. Farmers find that combination almost irresistible.

So in March, when the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as a probably carcinogen, it set off a furor. Monsanto was outraged, and vociferously questioned the IARC’s judgement. Opponents of GMOs welcomed the agency’s conclusion as a scientific validation of their cause.

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Longwood Gardens grows the largest mum outside of Asia

Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, has unveiled the largest mum ever grown outside of Asia: the Thousand Bloom Chrysanthemum. This amazing plant features 1,509 uniform blooms on ONE plant. The Thousand Bloom is a highlight of the annual Chrysanthemum Festival at Longwood Gardens.

Called the Thousand Bloom, the plant derives its name from the ambitious goal of cultivating a single plant to produce as many perfectly placed blooms as possible. This ancient technique, known in Japan as Ozukuri, originated hundreds of years ago in Asia and is the most exacting and challenging of all chrysanthemum training styles. Longwood’s Thousand Bloom measures an impressive 12 feet wide and nearly 8 feet tall and took 18 months of careful nurturing and training to grow into its final form.

MSU Extension publishes new guide to support and encourage pollinators

NativePollinators-COVER-5-6-15MSU Extension:

Bees of the Great Lakes Region and Wildflowers to Support Them is a new Michigan State University Extension publication that provides an overview of the diverse community of wild and managed bees across the Great Lakes region. Packed with photos of the most common bee species and showing photographs and descriptions of wildflowers that are attractive to bees, the guide also provides a section on bee conservation with some practical steps to take.

Bees are essential for pollination of many crops and they also pollinate flowers in the garden and in wild areas, helping to support natural systems. Approaches to supporting these insects is generally similar for all habitats: provide them with some food (flowers), give them a place to nest (habitat or artificial cavities) and don’t kill them (use bee-safe insecticides or follow label restrictions to protect pollinators).

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Invasive Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Pest Found at More Sites in West Michigan

The public is asked for continued help in looking for invasive pests

The small cottony masses characteristic of adult hemlock woolly adelgid. (Credit: Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Archive)

The small cottony masses characteristic of adult hemlock woolly adelgid. (Credit: Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Archive)

Thanks to an alert citizen working in the area, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) today confirmed hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), an invasive tree-killing pest discovered in Ottawa County in June, has now been found at locations in southwestern Muskegon County. The finds in Ottawa and Muskegon counties are the first instances of HWA occurring in native forest hemlock.

MDARD and its partners have been actively monitoring and controlling HWA since 2001, but until this year, all HWA infestations found in Michigan were restricted to nurseries and hemlock landscaping. Each infestation was treated, eradication activity took place, and continued surveillance occurred after eradication activities were wrapped up.

“Once again, citizen involvement played a central role in early detection. Continued citizen involvement and citizen reporting is crucial for the management of this pest or any other exotic pest,” said Gina Alessandri, MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division Director. “Examine your hemlock for HWA, and if you find something suspicious, contact MDARD immediately.”

Hemlock trees are typically green in color, but in advanced HWA infestations, twig and branch mortality can occur, giving infested trees a grayish hue. The small cottony masses characteristic of HWA are found on the underside of the branch at the base of the needle; they are never found on the needles themselves.
HWA can be very difficult to detect at low population levels because the insect is so small.

Since its discovery in Virginia in 1951, HWA has spread rapidly across most of the native range of hemlock in the eastern U.S., decimating hemlock forests from Georgia to Maine. To protect Michigan’s hemlock forests and the wildlife they support, MDARD has maintained a strict quarantine against out-of-state hemlock since 2002. Current and past infestations in Michigan are likely the result of hemlock from these areas shipped into Michigan prior to, or in violation of, this quarantine.

To report a possible HWA detection, contact MDARD at 800-292-3939 or

New blueberry plant for home gardeners



The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was recently awarded a patent for ‘Nocturne,’ a blueberry cultivar developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. The new plant came from a blueberry cross made in 1993, and the plant was subsequently selected and evaluated from 1996 to 2011. ‘Nocturne,’ tested under the name “US 1056,” is a cross between ‘US 874’ (a mixed species hybrid) and ‘Premier’ (a commercial rabbiteye blueberry). This cross incorporates germplasm from three different blueberry species, including one with extreme cold-hardiness.

‘Nocturne’ is a vigorous, winter-hardy, black-fruited blueberry. “This variety is intended to be a specialty market plant for home, landscape, and ornamental use,” according to ARS plant geneticist Mark Ehlenfeldt, who hybridized the plant. It is especially notable for having winter hardiness comparable to northern highbush blueberry cultivars and for being slow to break dormancy in spring, making it unlike any other rabbiteye blueberry hybrids currently available.

In New Jersey, where ‘Nocturne’ was developed, the plant bears fruit reliably, averaging 12 pounds per plant. Unripe fruit is vivid and red-orange, providing attractive landscape interest. Ripe fruit is black, sweet and medium-sized, with a flavor atypical of either rabbiteye or highbush blueberries. Fruit ripens in late midseason to late season. The scar quality—how cleanly the fruit separates from the stem—is fair, and the fruit has only moderate firmness, so it is not recommended for storage or shipping by commercial growers. ‘Nocturne’ plants are expected to be available for retail purchase in 2017.