Tuesday, 29 January 2013

How To Grow And Care For A Peach Tree

Peach trees will reward a faithful gardener with abundant fruit if they are given the right growing conditions, fertilizer, and maintenance pruning.

(Essortment.com) Peach trees are prized for their juicy summer fruit that make into wonderful pies. The height and texture that these trees add to the garden is a plus. While peach trees need little care for decorative purpose, they do need more attention to maximize fruit production.

Selecting the Right Tree

Peaches have been bred for thousands of years for different climates, tastes and color. You will want to pick a tree that is right for your climate, so check with a local nursery or university extension office to see what cultivars they recommend. Most peach trees do not need another tree to pollinate its fruit, but be sure to check before you buy the tree.

Once you have decided on a cultivar, look over the tree before you take it home. The ideal peach tree is 1 year old and about 3 feet tall with several branches, since older trees tend not to transplant as well and have fewer buds and branches. Look over your tree to make sure there are no signs of disease or damage.

Picking the Right Site

Peach trees can survive in most areas, but they need full sun and good air circulation to produce bountiful fruit. Frost damage during the early spring months is the most common cause of failure for a peach tree to develop its fruit. A site with full sun during the day will keep the tree and immature fruit a couple of degrees warmer during the chilly nights. An added bonus with a full sun site is sweeter tasting peaches. Air circulation is also important to keep cold area from pocketing around the tree and freezing the immature fruit.

To avoid root damage, a peach tree also needs well-draining soil. If a peach tree stands in water, the tree's roots will die back and effect the tree's overall growth. The best soil for peach trees is sandy loam with plenty of organic material. If your soil retains too much water, make a raised bed over the spot with some topsoil from a nursery.

Preparing the Site

Your peach tree will be growing in the same spot for years, so prepare the soil for long term growth. Begin by testing the ph level of the soil to determine if it is acidic or alkaline. Peach trees do best with a ph level of 6.5. However, most soils tend to be more acidic than this level, so sweeten the soil by adding lime. Lime takes years to leach down into the layers of soil, so you will need to work it into the ground a couple of feet deep in a 10 foot by 10 foot area. Over the years, your peach tree's roots will grow this far and will benefit from the sweetened soil.

Organic material also encourages the development of fruit by retaining moisture and releasing micronutrients. You can add manure, peat moss or compost up to a year before planting your trees. If you are adding lime, work the organic material in the ground at the same time to eliminate some extra work.

Planting Your Tree

The best time to plant your peach tree is when it is completely dormant during winter and early spring. It is easier to handle the tree at this stage, and the roots can develop before new foliage appears in the spring. Once you have picked a spot to plant your tree, dig a hole 3 feet wide and at least 2 feet deep so it is big enough for the tree's roots to spread out. You do not want to add fertilizer at this time, but you can add organic material.

Whether you have purchased a bare root or potted tree, you will want to inspect the tree's roots for damage or disease and remove them with a clean knife or pruning shears. Next, stand the tree upright in the hole and spread the roots out. The roots should be covered by at least 2 inches of soil. Then, fill the hole halfway and tap the soil down to ensure there are no air pockets. Fill in the rest of the hole and again tap the ground down with your foot until the soil is settled and leveled. Finally, water the tree thoroughly to ensure the roots are in contact with the soil.

Yearly Maintenance

To produce the maximum amount of fruit, peach trees need fertilizer twice a year. During early spring when the buds are just emerging, work one cup of 10-10-10 water soluble fertilizer around the drip line of the tree. Water soluble fertilizer is easily absorbed by the tree's roots. Then, when the last of the fruit has been harvested, apply another cup of the same 10-10-10 fertilizer.

Peach trees do not like to compete for water or nutrients, so keep weeds and other plants 3 feet away from the base of the tree. Also, apply a layer of mulch to the soil to keep weeds down and retain moisture in the soil.

If you have a healthy peach tree, it will produce enough peaches that it will break its own branches. To prevent this and encourage large fruit, you will need to thin the immature fruit four weeks after your tree stops blooming. Thin the fruit so that there is only one peach every 6 inches on a branch. To remove immature fruit, with one hand hold the branch and with the other hand, pluck of the extra fruit. Be careful not to tear the branch's skin, leaving it vulnerable to disease.


You can prune your peach tree during the early spring and throughout the growing season. Major pruning should be done during early spring after extremely cold weather has past but before foliage has appeared. However, when branches become diseased, damaged or shoot off a sucker branch, they should be removed immediately.

The most productive shape for peach trees is a V-shape with growth that is 3 to 5 years old. By allowing light to reach the inner branches of the tree, fruit can develop in the inner part of the tree. Fruit buds only develop on mature branches, but will stop once the wood is several years old.

Begin your pruning process by removing any dead, damaged or diseased branches. Next, remove any waterspouts or vertical growing branches since they rarely produce fruit. Once those branches are removed, prune your tree so branches angle off each other and have plenty of room. Old branches can also be removed since they produce less fruit after three years.

Preventing Damage from Insects and Disease

Peach trees are prone to many types of insects and diseases. Planting your trees in a sunny location with good air circulation is one step to preventing problems with disease. Another step is to apply a dormant spray in the winter and following up with a combination insecticide and fungicide spray throughout the growing season.

While peach trees need a good site to encourage fruit production, they also need seasonal fertilizing, pruning and pest control. Once you have managed these tasks, you should have years of fresh peach pies to enjoy.

Thoroughbred Race Horses All Traced to One 17th-Century Mare

(ABC News) All the great names in thoroughbred horse racing — from Secretariat to Man O’War, from Seabiscuit to Seattle Slew — they’re all related, and a team of geneticists has now traced their talent for speed back to a single ancestor. The “speed gene” that made them all so fast was apparently a genetic aberration, and it probably started with one British mare who lived in the mid-17th century.

Emmeline Hill of University College Dublin led a team that analyzed DNA in 593 horses from 22 modern breeds, as well as museum specimens from 12 historically famous stallions. Modern genetics have become sophisticated enough that they could tell, with considerable precision, what the horses had in common.

“The results show that the ‘speed gene’ entered the thoroughbred from a single founder, which was most likely a British mare about 300 years ago when local British horse types were the pre-eminent racing horses, prior to the formal foundation of the thoroughbred racehorse,” said Hill in a prepared statement.
She and her colleagues published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Lest this seem like some arcane animal study, it does involve a big-money sport and, more important, questions about how genetic characteristics can be inherited and traced. If you can decipher the genes that make thoroughbreds so fast, say the researchers, you can also find clues to genetic diseases in people. Thoroughbred horses are useful for study because the records of their ancestry are — forgive the pun — really, really thorough, going back centuries.

The great speed horses all shared two genes associated with muscle development. The combination did not show up in regular farm horses, or donkeys, or zebras.

Horses with the two genes were consistently top sprinters. It’s no accident that the Kentucky Derby is a mile and a quarter, usually won in just more than two minutes. Other genetic combinations were found in horses that were slower but able to run longer.

Place your bets.

Eat a Banana, Save the Planet!

Look, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Chiquita Bananas, after having long ago learned about human-rights repressing, anti-democratic business practices which their predecessor, the United Fruit Company, engaged in throughout Central America in the past century. So I find having to write about what’s been happening in the media today a little ironic. But at the same time, there’s actually a lot at stake, and since much of it is going on behind-the-scenes, I thought I’d take a few moments to share my own observations about bananas and their media-hyped impact on climate change.

For rest assured, despite Ezra Levant’s rant in Sun Media today (“Yes we have no bananas, you hypocrite”, the Sudbury Star, December 20, 2011), the issue at hand isn’t simply about bananas, or even Levant’s strange concept of “ethical oil” (on which he wrote the book – quite literally, he wrote the book “Ethical Oil” from which he now profits through shameless self-promotion of the term). Nor is it necessarily even about human rights – at least not in the way that Levant and others are portraying the matter. 

Instead, what we’re seeing playing out in the media today has everything to do with Canada’s war on climate change action, and our government’s shameless shilling for the multinational oil industry. You see, the Harper regime came to the conclusion quite a while ago that fighting climate change for the good of Canadians and providing profit for Big Oil was mutually exclusive. Since then, they’ve gone out of their way to put the interests of their corporatist supporters ahead of those of Canadians. Indeed, with their recent decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Accord, the Harper regime has taken considerable pride in giving the finger to the entire world.

But this isn’t about Kyoto. This is about the Harper regime’s constant war on the interests of Canadians. By continuing their unmitigated acts of sabotage against the interests of average middle-class Canadians by accommodating at seemingly every opportunity the interests of the oil industry, Harper and his ilk are condemning both Canada and the world to the effects of runaway climate change. All of this is being done simply so the oil companies can make even more profit. There is no other reason which stands up to scrutiny.

Sun Media Goes Bananas
Now, if that sounds a little over-the-top to you, consider the humble banana. Levant and his cohorts at Sun Media seem to think that they’ve hit upon a really cheery holiday story which will warm the cockles of their neo-liberal supporters, some of whom, such as Jason Kenney, are ministers of the Canadian government. Levant has tweaked to the notion that Chiquita Brands has somehow made a decision to boycott Alberta’s oil. And in Levant’s world, that’s tantamount to treason against the State! Although which state, exactly, no one is sure (maybe it’s that North American Union which the neo-liberals are just waiting to spring on us all, without any consultation…kinda like yesterday’s health “deal” announcement. But that’s another story).

In response, Levant and Sun Media have called for a boycott of Chiquita bananas. To provide even more ammunition in support of a boycott, Levant points out that Chiquita was just fined back in 2007 for giving “protection money” to South American paramilitary organizations, some of which appear on the U.S.A’s list of known terrorist organizations. And Levant is right: that’s pretty bad. Of course, giving money to the government of Colombia, which continues to threaten and abuse the rights of its own people is also pretty bad. It’s all pretty messy in Colombia, no matter how you look at it. But, depending on who is doing the looking, the mess might not matter so much. And thanks to the Harper regime, Canada now has a free-trade deal with the human-rights repressing regime currently in charge of Colombia. Well, most of Colombia anyway. But that’s another story.

Now, here’s where things get interesting. A little further digging reveals that Chiquita Brands has not launched any kind of boycott against Alberta oil. What they have done is announce that they will try to use petroleum from non-dirty sources for transport fuel, in order to try to limit the effects of climate change, at least somewhat. This does mean that Chiquita will be trying to steer clear of oil produced from tar sands bitumen. And that’s what seems to have Levant’s so upset.

I guess Levant would feel a lot better if the humans-rights abusing, terrorist-sponsoring Chiquita Brands had instead decided to buy tar sands oil. I know that I would have felt better. I suppose that for Levant it’s best to do business with the devil than have the devil take his business elsewhere. But that’s another story.

Environmental Tariffs
There are actually a few things at stake here, and singling out Chiquita Brands for a boycott actually plays quite well as a media-hypable proxy for addressing the bigger issues. You see, right now the European Union is considering labelling Canadian heavy oil produced from tar sands bitumen as “harmful to the environment” (and therefore “dirty”) in comparison to oil derived from conventional sources. This means that importing tar sands oil into the EU will require the imposition of a surcharge (a.k.a. “a tariff”), which amounts to a financial penalty assessed against dirty oil producers.

And it also could stand as a precedent which ends up penalizing dirty Canadian industries. The State of California has just recently announced that it will support the EU’s labelling initiative as it pertains to tar sands oil. Presumably, that means that tar sands oil ending up in California may also be subject to a tariff.

And California…that’s the same U.S. state which has been in the news lately because it is part of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI). Recently, the Province of Quebec announced that it was moving forward with establishing a cap and trade emissions trading scheme under the auspices of the WCI. So, dirty Alberta oil could also receive a surcharge of sorts through a cap and trade program if it were to be imported to…Quebec. 

What other provinces are also a part of the WCI? Why, Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia. Together with Quebec, that means that over half of Canadians may one day end up paying more for dirty Alberta oil through some sort of surcharge levied through a cap and trade scheme.

Dirty Oil
Look, call it what you want, but the fact is that oil produced from tar sands bitumen produces significantly more greenhouse gases than oil derived from conventional sources (between 3 and 5 times as much). So, from the point of view of carbon pollution, the oil is dirtier, period, end of story. And we know that the historic build-up of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere is what’s responsible for global warming and the Earth’s changing climate.

Interestingly, the Harper regime has probably done its corporatist oil-industry buddies no favours by pulling out of Kyoto. What Harper has accomplished is to hand the European Union the smoking gun it needs to affirm that Canadian tar sands oil really is dirty and therefore to subject it to a tariff at the time of import. And while its true that the EU imports hardly any dirty oil from Canada right now, it’s the precedent of the matter which is much more important.

And if the importation of dirty oil itself can be subject to a tariff, what about products produced exclusively from energy derived from dirty sources? Why not subject them to a tariff as well? 

Climate Change and the Economy
EU nations, including the tar-sands supporting United Kingdom (with David Cameron’s government playing Harper’s proxy at the EU negotiations), have met their Kyoto greenhouse reduction commitments, and in many cases, have exceeded them. The governments of the European nations made the hard choices back in the late 1990s to take Kyoto seriously. It turns out that those choices weren’t really all that hard to make, as producing cleaner energy has actually led to job creation throughout the EU, and especially in nations such as Denmark and Germany, which (along with China) are now the go-to places for clean energy products and research and development. The EU nations accomplished all of this while still growing their economies. Their success story doesn’t at all mirror the Harper regime’s narrative which pits the choice of “jobs” against “the environment”. But that’s another story.

With the EU having done their heavy-lifting regarding climate change, Canada’s withdrawal from Kyoto has come as a bit of a slap in the face. That Canada’s withdrawal has come at the same time of an announcement to continue to expand the dirty-oil producing tar sands (coincidentally timed to take place during the Durban COP-17 climate change conference) will not be lost on the Europeans. With Canada’s declaration of war against those wishing to stave off the economy-crippling horrors of climate change, labelling tar sands oil as “dirty” now more than ever seems like an easy decision for the EU to make.

And make no mistake: the economies of most nations in the world face significant risk from a changing climate. That Canada, which has been pushing the completely misguided notions of “climate prosperity” and “ethical oil”, will also suffer from the upheaval of climate change seems to matter little to the Harper regime. Canada’s economy is integrated with the global economic village, and our economy is sure to be negatively impacted by economic upheaval throughout the globe. For the Harper regime, that average Canadians will suffer from global economic devastation isn’t nearly as important as the need to continue to enrich the Harper’s oil interest buddies and supporters.

And that’s what makes this all a human rights issue, and a moral issue. Is it moral for Canada, one of the world’s biggest per-capita polluters, to sabotage international efforts which seek to limit greenhouse gas emissions and which (hopefully) will lessen the social/physical/economic impacts of climate change? Is it ethical to put the corporatist interests of Big Oil ahead of the interests of just about everyone else on the planet? By declaring war on efforts to combat climate change, Canada’s government has made its decision. I’ll leave it to you to determine whether it was a moral one. I suspect that you know my own opinion.

Saving the Planet, One Banana at a Time!
Which brings us back to bananas and the boycott against Chiquita Brands for having the audacity to finally make an attempt at being a “good corporate citizen” (at least as far as climate change goes…which, by the way, will almost certainly impact Chiquita’s own bottom line, as they have invested heavily in agricultural activities in tropical areas of the world, which are sure to be some of those hardest hit by climate change…so Chiquita probably does have a vested interest in taking climate change action). If Chiquita can be made to bend on the concept of “dirty oil”, it will prove to be yet more ammunition in the fight against labelling at the EU, and (probably more importantly) by California (and potentially other WCI partners). And if the boycott works and leads to Chiquita backing down, woe be to any other business which decides that it’s going to try to implement a similar action in the name of “environmental responsibility”. Including those businesses which operate almost exclusively in California and which may not have a choice in the matter. Canadian boycotts of Californian businesses may yet prove to be the sort of political wedge issue which neo-liberal Republicans in California might use to gain control of the State and turn back the clock on dirty tar sands oil decisions. There is a long game being played here.

The banana may yet become a more compelling symbol in the fight against climate change than “350” or “2 degrees C”. Although the science would likely prove otherwise, I can certainly see the slogan, “Eat a banana, save the planet” catching on, at least for a little while, thanks to Sun Media. 

Posted By Steve May

(opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and should not be considered to be in keeping with those of the Green Party of Canada) 

(this blogpost was originally posted at www.sudburysteve.blogspot.com)

Smartphone Apps Aiding Farmers

APPS are quickly becoming vital farm tools, writes CIMARA PEARCE

Gone are the days of having to walk down to the back paddock to check how many head of cattle you've got grazing there.


So too are the days of trying to guess what the weather is going to do.

Today's smartphone technology and the multitude of agriculture-related iPhone and iPad applications on the market mean regular weather updates and farming information is literally at farmers' fingertips.

With more people embracing the technology, and a range of farm management apps coming on to the market, it might not be long before farmers swap their notebooks for smartphones.

One of the latest to attract rave reviews from farmers is the Elders weather app.

It has had more than 12,000 downloads since being released late last year.

The application has a 4.5-star rating in Apple's app store and, at $1.99, has many in the agriculture industry labelling it the best of its kind on the market.

Elders sales marketing and supply chain general manager Mark Geraghty said the decision to take the respected Elders weather website and turn it into an app was an easy one.

"Elders weather is a very popular website and lot of our clients and non-clients use it every day," he said.

"Farming is not about sitting in front of a computer and our clients need the convenience of being able to check the weather at their fingertips.

"With smartphone technology now used so widely, both in urban and rural Australia, it was a natural progression to move to this technology."

Coolac farmer Jock Graham helped pioneer another popular new app: F-Track Live.

It is an on-the-go farm management program that is ideal for use by multiple farm workers wanting to access information.

"We're on a farm out here at Coolac, near Gundagai, and we've got cattle, sheep and crops here and I guess I do a lot of the cropping work and it was spawned out of that," Jock said.

"I was away on the tractor somewhere, and I didn't know what the livestock numbers were and what paddocks they were in, because I had someone else doing that.

"I thought we could just make one, so went down the road of finding out what you have to do and got a group of farmers who thought the idea was pretty good and they backed it ... and then I found someone who could develop it."

With more than 450 people registering for the program's free 30-day trial, the response had been "really positive so far", Jock said.

Smartphone technology is also being embraced by agriculture groups looking to promote their messages. Meat and Livestock Australia released several applications last year, including Aussie Lamb and Beef Essentials, both aimed at identifying cuts of meat and providing recipe ideas.

Jock said he thought more farmers were realising the benefits of using smartphones and iPads to help with day-to-day farm life.

"Three years ago, I didn't have any kind of smartphone and since grabbing one, I think I use the internet on it more than I use the phone," he said.

"I think people are really starting to embrace it because everything has become wireless and it all links in really well and it's just really good technology."

The Use of Potassium Permanganate in Fish Ponds

Potassium permanganate, KMnO4 , is a chemical oxidizing agent that will react with any organic matter in a pond including algae, bacteria, fish, particulate and dissolved organic, and organic bottom sediments. It has been used in fish ponds to treat common fish pathogens such as gill parasites and external bacterial and fungal infections. Contrary to some reports, potassium permanganate does not add significant amounts of oxygen to water and can actually decrease dissolved oxygen concentrations by killing algae that produce much of the oxygen in ponds. 

Treatment Rate 

Common treatment rates are 2 parts per million (ppm) or milligrams per liter (mg/L) for an indefinite pond application or 10 mg/L for a 10-minute tank treatment. Actual treatment rates in ponds will vary depending on the amount of organic matter, or organic load, in the water. As with any chemical treatment, it is crucial to accurately estimate the volume of water that is to be treated. 

How to Estimate Water Volume 

Potassium permanganate is an expensive treatment. Therefore, it is important to properly estimate water volume to achieve both a cost-effective and biologically effective treatment. Underestimating water volume will result in an insufficient concentration of chemical, and retreatment would be necessary. Overestimating water volume can result in a greater-than-desired concentration of chemical, and may injure or even kill fish. Pond volume is measured in acre-feet (surface acreage multiplied by the average water depth in feet). One acre-foot is equal to one surface acre with a depth of one foot. 

Estimating pond volume can be difficult when a pond has an irregular shape and varying water depth. The surface area of a square or rectangular pond can be easily estimated by multiplying the pond length by the pond width. Your local Soil Conservation Service or County Extension Service Office can provide assistance in determining pond acreage for irregularly- shaped ponds. 

The average water depth for ponds with a sloped and flat bottom can be determined by averaging the shallowest and deepest water depths. For example, a pond with a sloping flat bottom that has a maximum depth of six feet and a minimum depth of four feet would have an average depth of five feet. Determining the average depth for ponds with uneven bottoms and widely varying depths requires measurement of water depth at multiple locations in the pond using a simple grid or zig-zag sampling approach, in which all areas of the pond are measured. 

How to Calculate Amount of Chemical Required 

An important factor to remember is that 1 ppm (or 1 mg/L) is equal to 2.7 pounds of dry chemical per acre-foot of water. A sample calculation to determine the amount of potassium permanganate required to treat a pond at a 2 mg/L concentration is as follows: 


You have estimated a pond to be 5 surface acres, and the pond has an average depth of 5 feet. 
  1. 5 acres × 5 foot average depth = 25 acre-feet of water. 
  2. 25 acre-feet × 2.7 lbs/acre-foot = 67.5 lbs of potassium permanganate to obtain a concentration of 1 mg/L in the pond. 
  3. 67.5 lbs of potassium permanganate × 2 = 135 lbs of potassium permanganate to obtain a concentration of 2 mg/L in the pond. 

A 2 mg/L treatment is usually effective for ponds with relatively clear water. Potassium permanganate reacts with organic matter and becomes neutralized and unavailable to treat the target parasite. The greater the amount of organic matter in a pond, the more potassium permanganate required to achieve the desired chemical concentration. Therefore, a pond with moderate to heavy algal blooms will require a higher treatment rate to neutralize the organic matter in the pond and still achieve the desired concentration of 2 mg/L. 

One popular method of treatment is to begin with an application of 2 mg/L potassium permanganate. If the pond remains pink to purple in color for 8--12 hours, then an effective treatment is assumed to have occurred, and no additional chemical is required. However, if within a 12-hour period, the pond turns brown, then an additional 1--2 mg/L treatment is required, depending on how quickly the pond turned brown. It is recommended that treatment begin in the morning so that the pond can be watched for the next 8- to 12-hour period, and any color change can be easily detected. 

How to Determine Permanganate Demand 

Another method to estimate the amount of potassium permanganate required for effective treatment is to determine the potassium permanganate demand or amount of chemical required to react with all the organic matter in a water sample. This procedure measures the 15-minute demand. This value is then multiplied by 2 to give the recommended treatment rate. The 15-minute demand is determined as follows: 
  1. Prepare a 1,000 mg/L stock solution by adding 1,000 milligrams or 1 gram of potassium permanganate to 1 liter of distilled water and mix thoroughly. 
  2. Collect five 1-liter samples of the pond water. 
  3. Prepare a series of test treatments. Add 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 milliliters (mL) of the stock solution (prepared in Step 1) into the five 1-liter samples. Mix thoroughly. 
  4. Wait 15 minutes. 
  5. The test treatment that has the slightest faint pink color after 15 minutes is the correct 15-minute potassium permanganate demand. If there is a question as to which rate has a faint pink color, choose the lower treatment rate. 
  6. Multiply the 15-minute demand treatment by 2 to get the proper treatment rate for the pond. 


A series of 1-liter pond water samples was treated with potassium permanganate stock solution. After 15 minutes, the 2 mg/L treatment turned brown, but the 4 mg/L treatment still had a faint pink color. The 4 mg/L treatment is therefore the 15-minute demand. Multiplying the 4 mg/L demand treatment by 2 gives a recommended pond treatment rate of 8 mg/L. 

How to Apply Chemical 

Potassium permanganate is commercially available in crystal or powder form. it should be mixed with water before use, and then applied evenly over the entire pond surface to ensure an effective treatment. For small ponds (less than one acre), application of the chemical can be achieved by first adding a small portion of the total amount of chemical required for treatment to water in a five-gallon plastic bucket, and then broadcasting this solution over the surface of the pond while walking around the pond. This process is repeated until all of the required chemical is added to the pond. This method works well when the chemical can be dispersed evenly over the entire surface area of a pond from the shore. In larger ponds (larger than one acre), a boat equipped with a large take or container and motor is recommended for distributing the chemical. The chemical mixture can be applied by means of a submersible pump or gravity fed from the container into the prop wash of the boat motor. Uniform application can be achieved by driving the boar over the entire pond surface. 

Precautions When Using Potassium Permanganate 

A few helpful reminders and precautions before using potassium permanganate include: 
  • Be sure you have a problem that warrants treatment. Potassium permanganate is expensive. For example, it cost approximately $80 to treat a one-acre pond, with an average depth of 5 feet, at a 4 mg/L concentration. Have your fish properly diagnosed and carefully consider the cost. 
  • Potassium permanganate is a strong oxidizer and can burn skin, eyes, and other body parts. It will stain you and everything it touches brown. Always use safety protective gear including rubber gloves, goggles and old clothes. A dust mask is advisable to prevent irritation to your respiratory tract. 
  • Be sure to estimate water volume accurately, and disperse the chemical evenly over the entire pond to prevent hot spots, areas of the pond with excessive amounts of chemical. 
  • Potassium permanganate can kill algae. Low oxygen conditions can occur following treatment. Be prepared to aerate after treatment. 
  • Frequent treatment can harm fish. Wait at least four days before repeating treatment. If fish do not respond to treatment, reevaluate them to confirm the diagnosis. 

Author : Andrew M. Lazur - Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida

  1. This document is FA23, one of a series of the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date June, 1992. Reviewed July, 2002. Visit the EDIS Web Site.
  2. Andrew M. Lazur, assistant professor, Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611.

Advice to Okra (Ladyfinger) Growers

Faisalabad: Okra or ladyfinger (bhindi , بھنڈی ) is very popular vegetable among the farmers due to high returns which give it status of cash crop. This vegetable is very nutritious and even children cannot resist the temptation of eating it.

The department of agriculture of Punjab issues several advisory for okra growers to make the crop yield even better.
  • The most popular variety of ladyfinger which can be cultivated successfully is "Subz Pari". This variety gives very good results. 
  • The best time to start sowing of okra is from mid of February till end of March.
  • This crop required hot and humid weather to grow properly. Fog and cloudy weather and temperature below 20 degree Celsius hinder the growth. 
  • Okra can be cultivated in any soil type but fertile land with good drainage is most suitable.
  • For better yeild it is recommended to use 10 to 12 kg of seeds per acre.

Contract Farming Way Out for Potato Growers

BANKURA: Plummeting potato prices for three consecutive years have prompted farmers to switch to contract farming this season. The reason is obvious. No one wants to get burdened with loans after the farming when it costs Rs 14,000 a bigha. The trend is picking up in as many as 19 blocks of south Bengal - Hooghly, Burdwan, Birbhum, West Midnapore, Howrah and Bankura.

"Potato farming is becoming disastrous with packets of the crop kept in cold storage offered at 50 paisa or one rupee a kilo without any taker," said Meghanjan Dutta of Shiromonipur village under Kotulpur block in Bankura.

For them, tying up with the PepsiCo India is the only alternative for an assured return. "It's not that they are offering much. But at least we are assured of the return six months ago. Also, we don't have to take the produce to the local mundi or transport them to the cold storage on our own," Dutta said.

What is the contract? The farmer gives his land and labour. PepsiCo officials provide the seed - Atlanta and Chipsona - different from the traditional Jyoti or Pokhraj variety and the technology support. They supervise the cultivation and give advice to farmers from time to time. After the yield they take the produce to their own storage. The farmer gets Rs 6 for each kilo of potato. Advantage for the hapless farmers is that they get to know about the procurement price while they start sowing the seeds. They get crop insurance, seeds and loans from PepsiCo agents that they need to pay after the yield.

Meghraj Dutta, owner of 6 bigha of land, has had enough of traditional cultivation.

"We didn't take to contract farming last year though the PepsiCo came to our village. We thought that the price on offer by the company was too low compared to the profit we made in the open market four years ago. But it didn't happen. Prices kept falling despite the rising input costs such as seeds, fertilisers, insecticides. I can't take it any more. I thus opted for contract farming though the procurement price is not high. The second thing is that the company won't take all the produce. It will grade potatoes and take those that suit its requirement. It becomes difficult to sell the reject low sugar potato variety. But then it is better than what we are facing now," Dutta said.

Owner of two-bigha land Chittaranjan Nandi of Panahar village has also joined hands with PepsiCo. "With the profit I earned five years ago I married off my two daughters. Now I can't support my son studying at the Chandernagore Government College even. I can't take the risk," Nandi said. Shyamsundar Guin from the Galsi block in Burdwan is also going for contract farming on 10 bighas of land. "Some farmers in the Kalna block have also opted for contract farming," Guin said.

Sensing the mood, the PepsiCo Holdings India has doubled its target this year. It plans to rope in 9,000 farmers doing the job in 5,000 acres of land. Assistant manager PepsiCo, Fritolay division Prabal Roy said: "We are not going for direct purchase from farmers. We are procuring the produce through vendors. Last year purchased 10,000 tonnes of potato and sent it our stores. We plan to procure 20,000 tonnes this season. We won't release this potato in the market. We thank the state government and officials of allowing us approach the villagers."

Incidentally, PepsiCo made an entry into potato farming in Hooghly during the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government. During the Left Front tenure, it could not make foray in Bankura because of political opposition.

Sukdeb Shyam of Baghrol village in Bankura, however, stood out as one who has taken to traditional farming even this season. Shyam owns 15 bighas of land and is in a position to sustain the loss. "I suffered a loss of Rs 7,000. But I am not into contract farming. I hope to make profits from the traditional variety this season. The price on offer by the PepsiCo is not encouraging," said Shyam.

Deputy director Bankura agriculture division Abani Mohan Hazra said PepsiCo approached the division. "Their (PepsiCo) officials told us that the company had been carrying out commercial farming on an experimental basis. This time, they want to go for it in a big way. With farmers in distress we chose not prevent them. We asked them to get in touch with the farmers directly and carry out the cultivation if they agree," Hazra said.

Times of India