The Mercer Conservation Team is focused on re-planting two of the important tree lines that serve as wind blocks which deter soil erosion in the sandy soils on the southeast corner of the ranch. The area that is being protected with conservation trees will eventually also be planted to a small block of Cabernet Sauvignon wine grapes. The southeastern corner of the ranch is a bit of wind tunnel. We always get the strongest winds there, that is also the area with the sandiest soils, it needs protection. The wind can be a positive attribute for Cabernet wine grapes, leading to smaller berry size and an increase in color and tannins as a result. That is one of the reasons we are looking to plant Cabernet in that site.
The original tree lines were planted in 1982, but unfortunately, we used a hybrid poplar that was developed for wood pulp. The trees grew amazingly fast, as much as 12 feet per year, which we thought would make for great wind protection trees, what we didn’t know at the time, is that the trees were very prone to insect and disease pressure, and in the long run were short lived. Therefore, they were not great for our longer-term conservation efforts. The trees are now dying, breaking apart and not in good health.
The conservation team is replanting the lines and even including some shrubs for wildlife protection and food sources. The plan includes Currants, Elderberry, Siberian Pea Shrub, Western Serviceberry and a few others. The trees that are selected will include both some fast-growing trees such as Green Ash, Lombardi Poplars and Boxelder Maples, as well as slower growing trees that will hopefully stand the test of time, such as Giant Sequoia and Colorado Blue Spruce. In all, we will be replanting over ONE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED trees in the next few weeks.
The old trees that are being removed will be chipped, the chips will be used for soil erosion control in the areas prone to blowing dust around the farm, helping with the conservation efforts for another year or two.
Were excited about the rejuvenated conservation areas and look forward to planting some Cabernet grapes near these tree protected areas in the years to come.
— Rob Mercer, Owner