Question: What is the Virginia pine? I just received my Market Bulletin and see that numerous Christmas tree farms grow it.
Answer: Perhaps you know Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana) by another name. Because its wood was not as desirable for lumber as that of the longleaf pine or loblolly pine, Virginia pine was sometimes called disparaging names including “scrub pine.” It is also known as “poverty pine,” perhaps because it can grow on poor soils and was common on marginal agricultural land where poor people lived or farmed. Farther north you may hear it called “Jersey pine” because of its prevalence in New Jersey.
Virginia pine is native from Long Island south to Georgia and Alabama and west into Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and scattered areas of the Midwest. It is a pioneer tree — one of the first to sprout after a forest is cleared or in a pasture or agricultural field that has been abandoned.
If you lived in rural areas of the southern Piedmont in the days before Christmas tree farms, Virginia pine and the Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) were probably the two most common naturally occurring trees cut for Christmas decorating.
Georgia Christmas tree growers recognized the beauty and durability of Virginia pines and started growing them on their farms. The limbs are strong and the needles are bright green. The tree has a good piney smell and holds a wide range of ornaments. The care with which growers prune them makes finding a perfectly shaped tree easier than wandering through field and forest and dragging one home like Buddy and his cousin in Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory.” (Although that can be fun, too.)
If you visit a Christmas tree farm, consider choosing a Virginia pine or one of the other options like white pine, Fraser fir, deodar cedar, Leyland cypress and Arizona cypress.
For a list of Georgia Christmas tree growers visit the Market Bulletin blog or websites of the Georgia Forestry Commission or the Georgia Christmas Tree Association.
Unfortunately, Virginia pine has often been overlooked for landscaping in favor of other pines. Its durability and beauty deserve consideration. It may be used as a screen or kept sheared as a hedge. It can even be grown as a bonsai. It also bears long-lasting cones used in decorating and is a host plant for the Eastern brown elfin butterfly.
Q: How much firewood is in a cord?
A: A cord is defined as: "The amount of wood which is contained in a space of 128 cubic feet when the wood is ranked and well stowed." Typically a cord will be stacked 4 feet high by 8 feet wide by 4 feet deep (4' x 8' x 4'= 128 cu. ft.).
Q: When is the next auction of rehabilitated horses?
A: The Georgia Department of Agriculture will conduct a live auction on Saturday, December 6, at the Mansfield Impound Barn, 2834 Marben Farm Rd., Mansfield, Georgia 30055. The horses may be inspected at the facility beginning at 10 a.m. The sale will start at approximately 11 a.m. For more information contact the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Equine Health office (http://agr.georgia.gov/equine-health.aspx) at 404-656-3713. (Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
If you have questions about services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce (email@example.com) or visit the department’s website at www.agr.georgia.gov.