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Messages - jcaldeira

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Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Bee Keeping
« on: January 28, 2015, 10:55:16 AM »
John by observation hive you me a glass paneled hive right?

Here's a question I have, with good management is it possible to keep a hive going indefinitely? That is if you encourage the hive to requeen itself and prevent swarms?

Yes, glass-walled hives.

Good management can go a long way to keeping hives successful for many years.  However, queens mate while flying and some percentage of them don't make it back to the hive due to birds and wind/drifting.  Where I live, approximately 25% don't make it back due to swallows.  Also, a small percentage of the queens don't mate well enough and eventually become drone-layers.  There's no way for a hive to requeen itself when that happens.   A beekeeper with several hives can always re-start a failed colony with bees and brood from a healthy one (splitting).

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Bee Keeping
« on: January 27, 2015, 11:50:27 PM »
I've only heard queens still in their cells, a day before hatching, making a piping sound.  Never an adult queen, and I've had a lot of observation hives in my home over the years.  Are you sure it's the queen and some other insect?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Bee Keeping
« on: January 27, 2015, 12:04:43 AM »
I have them in the Sun, I have an establish beekeeper who helps me with any issues. So far ive only seen a couple varroa mites, but no where near a level where they would be a issue. I check them about 1 or twice a month.

My biggest issue so far was that I had a nest of carpenter ants set up under neath the hive

Varroa mites cause hives to crash most often after the nectar flow ends.  The bee population declines as is natural after the flow but the mite load remains high, so the mite-to-bee ratio becomes too much for the bees.  I highly recommend controlling varroa with fluvalinate after you've harvested the last time each season.

If you have trouble seeing mites on adult bees, tear open some sealed drone brood cells as they show up easily on the white drone pupae.

Many beginning beekeepers think that wax moth larvae killed their bees, but in reality the wax moth is only the undertaker, feasting after the colony has collapsed for some other reason.  The two most common reasons in the U.S. are (1) Varroa mites, and (2) Queenless hive.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Bee Keeping
« on: January 22, 2015, 11:56:31 PM »
John - I really enjoyed your description of the bee classes you coordinated in Fiji!
It's a great thing you are doing!

My hat's off to you!!!!!!


Thank you.  I need to make another update on my neglected website.  I'm now Secretary of the Fiji Beekeepers Association and working to influence biosecurity, health and agriculture regulation.

Also satisfying for me is my beekeeping project work in other countries.  I invite you to check out my USAID projects described on my home page, if you scroll down.  Haiti, Kenya, Tajikistan, etc.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Bee Keeping
« on: January 22, 2015, 06:37:42 PM »
I've been beekeeping for 35 years, and currently have a few hives (4-6) on my farm.  My website:

It's best to start with two or three hives, so if there's a queenless problem in one hive it can be restarted from another.

John, I noticed your website has info on top bar hives.  Do you have any personal experience with these?

Yes, I've kept bees in top bar hives for quite a few years, mostly for the experiences so I could better help people get started in beekeeping at a lower cost. 

I wouldn't recommend top bar hives for a beginner in the U.S. if you can afford Langstroth hives.  They require more regular maintenance and a better understanding of bee behavior.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Bee Keeping
« on: January 22, 2015, 02:03:24 PM »
I've been beekeeping for 35 years, and currently have a few hives (4-6) on my farm.  My website:

It's best to start with two or three hives, so if there's a queenless problem in one hive it can be restarted from another.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Mango Graft
« on: January 19, 2015, 06:14:26 PM »
the rootstock is about 3 months avg old give or take a month on each rootstock, but what do you mean they should not be dormant? . .

The seedling rootstock will go through periods of growth and periods where there is no visible growth.  My grafting success is best when the rootstock itself either has swollen buds or visible new growth (as well as swollen buds on the scion).  In the sub-tropics this is probably more predictable than in the tropics. 

In my area, the best time to graft seems to be after the dry season, a week or so after the first good rains.  Everything starts to push new growth then and it's hard to mess up a graft.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Mango Graft
« on: January 19, 2015, 03:29:58 PM »
I sometimes have the same thing happen.  Don't give up hope, though, because sometimes the side buds will burst out a month later.

As Patrick suggests, it's probably that the scion's tip had already 'decided' to grow before being grafted.  It grew, then ran out of steam.  Perhaps the bud was a little too developed when grafted.

Also, the rootstock, as well as the scion, should be in a growth flush when grafting for best success.  This can be promoted by watering with RAIN water.

My one criticism of most grafting books, including Garner's handbook, is that they don't emphasize the importance of the plants' growth condition.   Cambium contact is only half of success - timing is almost as important.  The rootstock shouldn't be in a dormant state when grafting.   

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Your best tree at the moment
« on: January 18, 2015, 07:11:27 PM »
BigIslandGrower, how tall was your mangosteen when you found it preferred full sun?

I have 1-2 year old mangsteen seedlings in 50%-90% shade now, but am unsure when to ease them into more sunlight.  The tallest ones are near 40 cm (16").

I don't have much of interest between my fruit trees, but some interesting things under them.

Some of the plants that enjoy the structure of my trees to climb on are black pepper, passionfruit, vanilla and dragon fruit.

The partial shade under and between some of my trees is being used for coffee and miracle fruit.

I have a few native trees, and banana, that are being used to provide shade to young fruit trees, with the intention of cutting down those native trees in a few years as the young fruit trees mature.  Mangosteen, cocoa, marang and some others seem to enjoy their first years as an understory plant, and they do much better in the ground than in nursery bags (at least with my care  :-[

Although the age of the tree probably has an influence on fruit quality of some species, climate, weather, soil, and timing of the harvest probably have a larger effect on quality.
Fruit often tastes better when grown in it's ideal environment. For example, citrus is usually sweeter in the subtropics, while papaya tends to taste better in the tropics.  As for timing of the harvest, compare supermarket fruit to fresh picked.

I've tethered branches to improve the balance of a few trees.  In a particularly windy area, it helped one of my jackfruit and this black sapote regain a better shape.     

I left the tethers on for approximately one year and the branches stayed in position after that.

Citrus General Discussion / Re: Free Greenhouse Heat
« on: January 08, 2015, 11:02:53 PM »
jcaldeira, I just noticed your question concerning how much the drop in water temperature is over night with the drums of storage water inside my greenhouse.   The solar heat up of the water barrels inside the greenhouse, and the drop in the water's temperature over night varies daily and also from season to season.  However, to answer your question I took the water temperature yesterday at dusk, and again the following morning.  Note that in the northern hemisphere during January the sun is very low on the horizon during the day, so January's solar production is the lowest of the year.   Anyway, the water's temperature at sunset was 61.5 F, the next morning it was 57.5 F, a drop of 4 degrees.  This translates to a release of 4 free BTU's of heat into the greenhouse for every one pound of water inside the barrel. Each 55-gallon drum contains 551 pounds of water. There are 100 drums (acting as benches) inside the greenhouse   Therefore, 100 barrels of water inside the greenhouse last night gave of 4 X 551 X 100 = 220,400 free BTU of heat. Note, I had the greenhouse propane heaters set at 55- F, so the water would not go much lower.  One could get 10 or 15 times more free BTU's by setting the propane heaters at 35 F night temperatures, but I want the extra winter growth, from the trees by maintaining the higher temperature range.  The amount of released solar heat will increase in February, March, and April.  From May through August the water storage actually helps cool the greenhouse during the hot summer days by absorbing the daytime heat. - Millet

Excellent!   Even your low January 220,400 BTU heat yield is equivalent to near $5.50 per night, or $165/month at average U.S. electricity prices.  It is a more even heat that most other heaters, too, doesn't pollute or dry the air. I hope you'll collect and share more data as time goes on.

Your water barrel heat recapturing method is something that many gardeners can learn from.   Do you have any photos to share?

The "fear" expressed in the article is that if the illegal farm workers area allowed to work legally in the U.S., they'll leave the poor wages in the agriculture sector and seek better paying employment.  I have little sympathy for employers who want to pay something less than a living wage to their employees.   They won't have a problem if they increase wages.

Allrighty.  Should I expect to see more growth potential in the spring and summer months down here in South Florida?  I'm wondering if this just isn't the right time for the orange to show its growth potential anyway...

Individual branches on citrus can experience growth flushes at different times.   I don't know whether navel orange would show its strength during the summer.

Eventually you are likely to find some branches on your cocktail tree will naturally grow faster than others, making it unbalanced unless you prune and re-graft occasionally.

Different growth rates on a cocktail citrus tree is normal.  There are different degrees of compatibility with the rootstock, each variety of citrus has its own growth rate, and the success of each graft may differ.   

Consider giving it another year without interfering.  If the orange branch growth is still retarded, you can graft another orange onto one of the other branches to balance it. 

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Multi species plant fusion
« on: January 05, 2015, 04:57:06 PM »
Multi species plant fusion, when purposely done, is genetic engineering.  ;)

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: What to grow in tropical wet/dry climate?
« on: January 03, 2015, 02:01:30 PM »
John I would ditch and replace pomegranates,purple passionfruit and many citrus like page,Orlando,Lisbon,satsuma,navel,Minneola,cleopatra should just go.Emperor,honey murcot and Ellendale are way better for your climate. Macadamia and lychees will not produce well either and the same goes for many avocado varieties.The north queensland experience between 16 and 18 latitude would have relevance for you as you are not that far away and due east.
Why not try a range of South american garcinias, various Eugenias and Artocarpus,sapodilla, longkong,salaks,cambuca,ilamas and many south americans.?

Mike, I wish I had access to planting material for many of the fruits you listed.  Unfortunately, getting planting material into Fiji is difficult due to biosecurity concerns.  Most of the fruits I have came from the Department of Agriculture stations here after they field-test them, a few from other farms, and a few from imported seeds.  We're just a little country (less than 1 million population) in the middle of the ocean, and not much economic incentive for anyone to bring in new fruits.

My plan is to visit tropical Australia sometime in the next year or two to acquire more planting materials, including the citrus varieties you suggest.  I'll also search for seeds when I'm visiting the U.S.

I did get rid of the lychee.

I have two varieties of avocado, one purple and one green (West Indian type).  I don't know the variety names, but I obtained my scion wood from trees that produced higher quality fruits according to the growers here who have many trees.  I saw my first flowers on one tree a month or two ago, but I don't think it held any fruit. 

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: What to grow in tropical wet/dry climate?
« on: January 03, 2015, 02:17:49 AM »

Last year, 2014, there was a severe drought, with nearly no rain for 6 months.  I learned a lot about the drought resistance of the popular species.  Mango does great, avocado and mangosteen are okay, citrus not so well. 

That goes against conventional wisdom.  What was frequency of waterings?

It surprised me too.   Not much watering of mangosteens at all.  Half a 20 liter can on each 1 or 2 year old plant each week during the worst part.  The ones in 90% shade are growing a lot faster than the ones in 50% shade.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: What to grow in tropical wet/dry climate?
« on: January 03, 2015, 12:11:28 AM »
Jcaldeira, how is the farm coming along?  updates?

The farm is coming along nicely, but not without some unexpected bumps in the road. 

In 2013, during the dry season, approximately one-quarter of my farm burned in a grass fire started by neighbor burning his cane field.  I lost over 100 trees.  Survivors were retarded a year or two in growth. 

Last year, 2014, there was a severe drought, with nearly no rain for 6 months.  I learned a lot about the drought resistance of the popular species.  Mango does great, avocado and mangosteen are okay, citrus not so well. 

During the first few years, I focused on planting a very wide variety of fruits.  Now I am focused on planting more of the ones with the most potential, based on taste, marketability, and success in my climate.  That means I will be planting more mangosteen,  longan, mango, and a few others.   I need to take a trip to tropical Australia to obtain planting material, as not much is available locally.

I've become much better at grafting during the past year.  The biggest 'light bulb' learning on grafting is to time it correctly - good mechanical technique is only half of it. In the tropics, we don't have as distinct seasons, but my mango grafting at the beginning of this rainy season is near 90%.

I've decided to top-work a 'Fiji Mango' tree in my yard.  It's a high fiber variety that is favoured for making mango pickle, but not a good eating mango so I'll put several good eating mango varieties on it.  Earlier this week I cut two of the three main branches to top work it.  I'll cleft graft onto the shoots that emerge rather than bark-graft to the main trunk.  The cleft grafts are much stronger; resistant to high winds and birds landing on them.  It is so disappointing to see a good graft broken by wind or a bird!  After these grafts have enough growth, I'll cut the one remaining limb and graft it.

Tree cut for top working

Waiting for shoots to cleft graft:

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Burying house and tree waste
« on: January 01, 2015, 05:00:53 PM »
It's called 'composting.'  I also have rotting brush piles scattered about.

Tropical Fruit Buy, Sell & Trade / Re: Looking for Ice Cream Bean
« on: December 30, 2014, 09:35:25 PM »
Ice Cream Bean trees grow incredibly fast.  It goes from seed to 4 foot in just a few months.

Citrus General Discussion / Re: Citrus 'Node Count'
« on: December 26, 2014, 10:13:21 PM »
Can a West Indian Lime seedling really fruit in two years?  I know grafted ones can, but a seedling?  The one near me was broken right at ground level from a cyclone in December of 2012, which should be close to node zero, and now it's covered in fruit at 24 months.

Has anyone else noticed that water at the end of a drought stress promotes blooming in very young citrus?

Citrus General Discussion / Citrus 'Node Count'
« on: December 24, 2014, 12:56:14 AM »
There was a concept of 'node count' promulgated on the old Gardenweb and Forumup forums that basically stated that a grafted scion/budwood, or a cutting, 'remembers' its maturity and will express sexual maturity depending on this node count.  It's my understanding that a 'node' is essentially equivalent to a growth flush.  Seems reasonable, but I think there's more going on.

It's clear that grafted citrus and branch cuttings flower sooner than their seedling brethren that are focused on vertical growth to capture sunlight and root growth to ensure survival.  However:
(1) A farmer near me has an old seedling lime tree that was broken off near the soil line during a cyclone two years ago.  The root suckers are now blooming in abundance.  The root suckers should have a single digit node count, yet mature at 24 months.

(2) There is evidence that flowering can be accelerated by grafting a young seedling scion onto a mature tree, so the mature tree pushes the scion a lot.  Thus it seems flowering is also influenced by the rootstock.

(3) I've had some 10 month old rough lemon seedlings bloom after being stressed to near death with lack of water, while the better-cared for seedlings did not.

Is it really node count, or is flowering a much more complex event?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: How to increase the quality of your fruit
« on: December 20, 2014, 08:10:07 PM »
Knowing when to pick and eat fruit is a good way to increase the quality of one's fruit.  Citrus, pineapple and many other fruits achieve their ideal sugar/acid balance relatively late in their maturation process.  Picked too soon, and the fruit will taste sub-par.

Similarly, most of us have been disappointed one time or another with overripe fruit, such as supermarket cherries.  Timing isn't everything, but it's important.

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