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Messages - professor

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Hello everyone.  Here in Costa Rica - I am getting ready to begin collecting coconut palm flower sap for making coco sugar and need to find a good source of natural anti-ferment herb alternative for the sap jars while they are on the trees.  Typically either lime water, jackfruit wood shavings or mangosteen skins are put into the containers each time they are put on the tree to keep bugs away and prevent the sap from fermenting.  I am short on all of these 3 things, so was wondering if anyone knows of any other herbs that can be used to accomplish the same thing.  I was wondering if maybe Senna - Cassia alata leaves or wood could work since the juice it is a great anti-fungal, or maybe even Australian tea tree oil or leaves, or lemon eucalyptus leaves or bark (as I have all of these)???

Thanks, Professor    :)

Hey Joshua, you are just a few hours from me as I'm north of Liberia.  No I haven't found it yet here. Not sure if I will.  I did visit Ark Herb farm last year and was very impressed, got many plants and seeds too. Not sure if he has it now.  For anyone that is looking in the states, I saw last month that Pete at his Green Dreams Nursery n Florida has Kava and will be selling it finally once he has propagated it out.


I am planning on planting some Erythrina poeppigiana to help with Nitrogen fixing on my Cacao and use the tree as an upper shade permanent orchard tree and to help as a wind break.  My cacao are spaced at 3m and I have read to plant this tree at 12m spacing if you are not planning on cutting it back each year.  My questions is does anyone have experience with how wind tolerant this tree is, and what percentage of shade it produces?  Thanks  :)

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Grafting Jackfruit to Breadnut rootstock?
« on: December 22, 2019, 10:30:08 PM »
Hey Peter,

OK, thanks.  I have talked to Gary Zill's, quite out of my budget for his grafted trees, I think I just need to stick with seeds and then maybe graft as needed.   I can graft the black sapote if I need to, just need to get the seeds-seedlings going for root stock then make a trip south to get branches from quality trees in 6 months if grafting is recommended for that tree.  I might need to take you up on buying the red Jakfruit seeds from you if you can put them in the mail that may be my best option. 

Avocados do very well here and I have quite a few trees but they aren't mixed in with my Cacao.  I figured they were too heavy shade, so my mangoes and avocados are in their own area.  For my cacao, I have my permanent trees Guama, guanabana, and Cashew inter planted between every 4th Cacao vertical and horizontal for one hectare, and I think the Guama have done the best for me due to its height, quick growth and reaching branches (still waiting on fruit, maybe 2020).  Many of my Cashew trees have blown over and block out nearly all the sun which those cacao aren't too happy about, so looking for something else for those areas and others where I still need some cacao upper shade. 

I am growing 5 sapodilla trees in their own area where I wanted a lot of shade for my dogs and have been quite slow growing for me here.  I'm expecting 100% shade from them, so I don't think I would do those intermixed between the Cacao.  I would consider the canistel. I haven't had canistel, but it looks like something I would like to grow and eat (have seeds?).  My mamey sapote have grown very slow as I had them in too much shade the past 4 years, so I dug them up and moved them (only 4' tall) and hope they do better in full sun.  Do the Canistel grow any faster than Mamey and Chico sapote, or do all the sapote family have about the same slow growth?

I've even considered doing some large Guapinol trees for upper shade with the cacao as the neighbors have said they are wind resistant and always have leaves during the dry season.


Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Grafting Jackfruit to Breadnut rootstock?
« on: December 22, 2019, 08:38:14 PM »
Hello Peter, we are at 800' elevation with view of Ometepe island along Nicaragua border.  Problem is most of the property is North Facing with a very good slope, so we get the trade winds for 2-3 months from the NE off of the Lake and its hard on my taller trees.  The winds can dry out and strip leaves from the Cacao, and have actually blown over some of my Cashew trees that were tall.  I have lost a lot of my Banana also that were my temporary shade for the cacao first several years.  I like the idea of the Jackfruit if can be a good windbreak.  On some of the property where the wind was the worst, I just gave up on the Cacao as they wouldn't grow with the wind stress and went with Coconut trees as they don't have a problem and to help with wind break also once well established.  I am hoping Black Sapote will do well.  Not sure if best to also graft those or OK to just go from seed.  Was also looking at Clove and Cinnamon trees but not sure I can do either here with the 3+ month dry.  Do you happen to have Red Jackfruit, Black Sapote, Clove and Cinnamon seeds available?  Professor 

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Grafting Jackfruit to Breadnut rootstock?
« on: December 21, 2019, 10:46:55 AM »
Hello Peter, thank you for the info.  Aren't Jackfruit a bit of a crap shoot on genetics not true to seed so really unsure what you will get as far a fruit quality if simply producing from an un-grafted tree? 

I also wonder if Jackfruit could then work as a middle or upper level filtered shade tree for inter-planting with Cacao (maybe 12m), as well as provide a good wind break, since we are so windy here.  Do you think it could work well for that, or does it have to dense of a canopy/shade? 

Also, regarding my area with the dry season we have, do you think Sapote Negro would grow here?  I'm not sure about the dry season tolerance of that tree as I haven't seen any of them up this way.  Professor

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Grafting Jackfruit to Breadnut rootstock?
« on: December 19, 2019, 07:12:32 PM »
Hello Mike, Do you know how the two compare as far as water needs and humidity.  I have a 3+ dry season with nearly no rain and quite dry humidity.  The breadfruit make it, but the smaller trees that are about 1-2m tall really need watering about 1x per month when its that dry.  Do you know are the Jackfruit about the same, or do they like a bit more humidity and water than the breadfruit?


Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Grafting Jackfruit to Breadnut rootstock?
« on: November 16, 2019, 03:37:34 PM »
Another point... I read that in India they do graft breadfruit onto their wild jackfruit so I figured its likely that I could do the reverse.  Given that the jackfruit tree could naturally be twice as large as the breadfruit, not sure if I would get a smaller dwarf version, or have any issues with the tree not being able to handle the weight of the fruit, it may be best just to go with growing the jackfruit seedlings and graft to them instead of taking the risk with the breadnut.  I may however try grafting the jackfruit onto some of the 4 year old breadfruit trees that I have to get a tree with both fruit if the center trunk is not essential for support of the heavy fruit.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Grafting Jackfruit to Breadnut rootstock?
« on: November 15, 2019, 06:29:31 PM »
Hello. I was wondering if anyone has experience with grafting a Jackfruit to a Breadnut rootstock.  I would assume its possible since they are of the same Family and Genus however I would like to know for sure if its been done before. 
Also if possible, which grafting technique has been shown to work the best?

Thanks much.

Hello, Paul's jackfruit which is orange in color is known here simply as red Jackfruit (Jacka in spanish pronounced as "Yaka").  Typically a bit firmer than the yellow variety.     

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Black sapote
« on: November 13, 2019, 08:25:47 PM »
Hello Peter,  apparently they have them regularly at the San Isidro market but that's quite a trip for me, maybe 7 hours one way.  This is a great look at that market and what they have...    I'm going to check out the Liberia Feria tomorrow or Friday to see if I can find them if they are even in season still.  One guy here bought some at the San Isidro market on Oct. 31st, so I think I still have a shot at getting some for seeds if they send any up this way.  Also I'm looking to plant some Jackfruit "Yaka" also so maybe I can find that also.  My elevation is only 800' but I am growing cacao so my rain is enough and so hoping I can grow the black sapote.  I am growing the red sapote, the Mamey sapote, sapodillia, and one other larger local variety (not sure of name) and they all are growing very well here.


Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Black sapote
« on: November 09, 2019, 11:30:26 PM »
Hello friends,  for Costa Rica I was wondering if anyone knows what the harvest season is for the black sapote when the fruits are available in the markets.  I am looking for some fresh fruit and or just the fresh seeds to plant here.

Thank you  :)

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Africanized bees in Costa Rica
« on: October 15, 2019, 12:42:19 AM »
Hello Gogu,  Ive been here in Costa Rica for 6 years and I think only have been stung by the Africanized honey bees once (hit a hollow log with a machete that was a fallen home of theirs).  Seen many swarm flying and in a ball in the tree or under the eves, and I walk around them while they are doing their work every day with the flowers and trees.  Tonight I actually opened and re-housed a wild hive of them from a neighbors dead tree that he wanted removed and they are quite calm using the right techniques (plenty of smoke).  I have been stung many more times by the endless types of wasps here than honey bees.  Working with fruit trees its not uncommon to get stung by a wasp or two by disturbing an unseen nest as you work your trees.  I get stung maybe 2-3 times a month, but you get used to it and learn to look out for them where they normally put their nests, but it still happens where you don't see them.  There have been some cases around my area where people have disturbed a nest on the ground in a log and had to go to the hospital because of the stings, but its fairly rare.  I wouldn't let the africanized honey bee be a factor in deciding to move here.  There are other significant factors to consider, such as cost of living, economic factors and government stability, etc. that I would be looking at as well as so many other things relative to moving to another country.  The sting therapy however to immunize yourself is an excellent choice however and can actually build your immune system :)

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Poll: Meliponiculture
« on: July 03, 2019, 11:00:29 PM »
For a long time we have intended to manage melapona bees in hives, harvest some honey, etc. But it's one of the things we still haven't managed to accomplish yet. There are a plethora of different stingless bees here. The most useful is one that I can't remember the name of.  It is known for having a
tubular entrance to its hive. Our farm has sections of forest throughout so these guys are pretty much everywhere. There are other stingless bees that are pests, they eat new leaves and flowers on citrus for instance.

Hello Peter,  I know this is an old post, however the bees you are referring to that make the tiny wax tube entrances are the the tiny stingless Mariola bees (Tetragonisca angustula) and I have been raising two hives of these for the past two years here in Costa Rica in simple open space wooden boxes.  Honey yield for these bees is 800- 1000ml/year normally harvested in April each year.  This year I built 6 professional wood hives specific for these bees having 5 frames in them and I split my two hives into four hives.  I have also just set out 22 swarm traps to catch more of these bees, however I was wondering if anyone here knows if these Mariola bees will swarm in the rainy season since their food source is decreasing or if I will only be able to catch them in the dry season?

Thanks, professor.   

Hello Everyone,

I know this is a shot in the dark limiting this herb request to a single country, but does anyone have a Piper methysticum start/rhizome in Costa Rica that I could buy?  Or know where I could find it?

Thanks, Professor

Hello Peter,

Thanks for the suggestion, I will check into it. To be sure the winds are super strong right now.  They will be dying down pretty soon I expect as the heat really sets in the next month.  The dry season length up here depends a bunch on the elevation.  Down in Liberia or LaCruz its like a desert close to sea level but we stay green essentially all year even with the 3-4 months of hardly any rain.  We are at 800' elevation and with the hills also the sun sets an hour earlier than down in the planes.  Parts of our finca do dry out more than others as it depends on which hill if facing the South sun, but others do fine.  As in the Caribbean islands, in the dry summer it can be like a desert on the West Caribbean side of the mountains whereas on the East ocean side at the same time it can have lush tropical forests.  I checked out a topographical map of estimated rainfall for Costa Rica before I purchased the property.   

Hello Doug,

Well the reason I decided to do it is because I spoke with an agriculture engineer at the Carreta last week and he said that Cacao trees will grow at higher acidic soils 5.0-6.0pH that we have here in CR but do much better at closer to neutral 7.0 pH and he said it is recommended to apply Cal once per year in the dry season to help reduce the acidity.  My cacao are also producing (what the black ants have not eaten), however I simply wanted the trees to be as healthy as possible.  I will check into the dolomite also. 

Hello Everyone,  Just a simply question that I haven't been able to find online.  This is my first season I have decided to adjust my pH higher due to the acidic soil here and I have read it should be done in the dry season.  I'm in Costa Rica and my dry season this year will be 4 months of which I am half the way through.  So, I was wondering if anyone knows if its better if I put the calcium down now, 2 months prior to the rain or is it better to wait until a week or two prior to the rains of the rainy season starting?


Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Cacao Ant Pest Problem in Costa Rica
« on: January 24, 2019, 08:11:13 PM »
OK, thanks much "Pineisland", I will look into that and it sounds probable you are right.  Today I did notice when I took some of the bugs off they hopped about 5" and then opened their wings and flew away.  You can smash them but their bodies are a bit solid so I prefer to wear gloves.

Hi Doug, I have learned that as well, that anything out of its environment will get attacked.  My mangoes and avocados do great but the cacao are a bit harder because of the bugs and longer dry season I have at my altitude.  My two varieties of cacao they said are resistant (my yellow B1 a CR variety) and the well known red (ICS-95), however I'm not sure if this is resistant to just fungus, or pests as well.  I will have to check into it with CATIE, however at this point it may be a bit late in the game on varieties as I don't want to start over changing them all out as I am already established with my trees now at 5 years.  :)


You were correct Pineisland.  I'm not sure exactly which sub family but I think it is one of these three as the body shape and other characteristics all match.  Here is photo of the last one you can see how similar it is.  Now since I never see these by themselves, only with the ants help I guess I'm back to trying to get rid of the ants.

Stictopelta marmorata · Stictopelta nova · Stictopelta pulchella · Stictopelta varians
 Treehoppers (Membracidae) » Smiliinae » Polyglyptini » Publilia » Publilia brunnea

Treehoppers (Membracidae) » Smiliinae » Smiliini » Ophiderma » pubescens or definita, per M.S. Wallace (Ophiderma pubescens or definita, per M.S. Wallace)

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Cacao Ant Pest Problem in Costa Rica
« on: January 23, 2019, 10:29:50 PM »

I was thinking this bug is an aphid, but can anyone confirm?  It jumps and can fly a short distance.  I have seen the aphids on the Cacao as well, but not sure about these exotic looking little "suckers".  They are lined up all along the stem of the fruit as in my prior pics with the ants farming them or at least eating the sap they are sucking.  However, just wondering if I need to address these differently if they are not aphids.  (An African voodoo mask or an alien face comes to mind).  Here is a close up...

Thanks, professor

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Cacao Ant Pest Problem in Costa Rica
« on: January 22, 2019, 11:45:50 PM »
Hello Bruce,

I'm not sure if they are carpenter ants, as they are pretty small, but yes you are exactly correct on the bugs.  I looked tonight and confirmed I have at least two types of bugs hanging out with my ants, I believe both are aphids.  The small one lives on the top of some of my trees and eats holes in the new leaves from the bottom.  The ants then run up there to take their dew.  Other cacao trees have I believe have aphids living on the stem of the fruit and the ants are all covered on top of them, even building little covered sheds over them for added protection while they work on my fruit.  These adults are fancier looking with a black and white pattern looking like a small turtle pattern and pop away off of the stem when you disturb them too much as when I try to knock them off. 

In my soursop/guanabana trees they don't have the aphids, but the same type of ants and they find little holes and eat directly on the fruit itself at the stem from what I can tell.  I made an acid solution for bait, I was able to find pure boric acid in powder at the store today, I think this will work the same as the Borax brand even though I read it is a different version of the chemical.  I made the formula 1 TBS boric acid to 1 cup of sugar and then boiled that with 1/2 cup of water and then when cooled I put an inch inside the bottom of a bottle, drilled 4 of the 1/4" holes towards top and put a strip of cardboard inside for a ladder.  I screwed on a piece of plastic to cover the holes if it rains and put 9 of the bottles out tonight with 4 directly at the trunk of the tree where the largest colony is located.  I sure hope it works.  Just not sure if I will need to address the aphids also afterwards or if I will get some help from the good bugs.  I am going to watch the nearby trees that are infested to see how it goes once I get the colony.  I'm a newbie, this is my first fruit farm, so its all a learning process for me.  Here are some pics...

Thanks, professor

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Cacao Ant Pest Problem in Costa Rica
« on: January 22, 2019, 01:08:34 PM »
Hello and thanks for the suggestions so far.  The ants are a small variety of black ants (pretty standard looking) that do not have stingers, only bite a little, they aren't the leaf cutters which here in my area are a red color.  I have noticed these do have colonies which tend to be in dead wood and the ants don't like to be in the sun at all.  They seem to be located closer to the edge of my farm on one side where I have a forest.  I have one shed where there is a large colony living in some wood the termites left behind, I need to deal with this group also, but I think there are several colonies because I don't see them travel too far from one location (less than 100'). 

I don't think "Tangle foot" is sold here in this country, but i could search for it.  Possibly this could be a solution if I could make a home made version of "Tangle foot".  I'm still looking to identify the ant and as Tuanis suggested maybe this can help me know more about them so I can take out the colonies.  I may also try a paint mixed with cinnamon powder and calcium carbonate to paint the trunk with (thanks for the suggestion) if I don't come up with anything else better to experiment with.

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention is that is looks like these ants are farming aphids as well on my trees, so they do like sweets and that is why they are also on my soursop/guanabana fruits.

Update...  It looks like what I have are The common black garden ant (Lasius niger).  I like the idea of the Borax ant traps, if I can find Borax or Boric Acid here in CR, and then make a crystallized solution they should take it back to the colony and kill it.  I am in hopes the natural beneficial bugs will take out my aphids that have developed.


Tropical Fruit Discussion / Cacao Ant Pest Problem in Costa Rica
« on: January 21, 2019, 11:28:49 PM »
Hello Everyone, this is my first post.  I have noticed the past 2 years that my Cacao and Guanabana trees in the more shaded areas of my farm are being infested with black ants.  As far as I can tell they nest at the base of the trees and or in other nearby larger trees, but the problem is that they make small nests at the top of my Cacao fruit (and the Guanabana also) and over several months will totally dry up the fruit and the trees will produce nothing.  The trees when they are not fruiting these ants will resort to chewing on the new leaves at the top of the tree slowing the growth.  I have lost whole sections of my farms production (several hundred trees) to these ants where the trees have produced nothing even when they may have been full of fruit a month or two earlier. 

I have read that doing the whitewash calcium carbonate based latex paint on the trunk may stop the ants from climbing due to then being unable to follow their pheromone trail, but wanted to check with the knowledgeable people on this forum if that is true or if any of you have experience with this type of ant and know of a successful natural way to get rid of these, as I am essentially doing organic here and don't want to harm my land or my family with pesticides.

Thank you much, professor

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