Boron and Reproduction
For over two decades, I was convinced that boron was only beneficial to the plant kingdom. However I now know of several people who swear by boron to relieve the pain of arthritis whether it is from boron rich vegetables or boron supplement tablets available from health stores . If you are one of the people who suffer from arthritis I suggest you give it a go.
Now back to the real reason for this article and that is how boron can effect the seeding of Radiata pine i.e.. the reproduction system of the tree.
I have always been of the opinion that there was no difference between P. radiata and a swede or a rose bush. All need a balanced diet of both macro and micro nutrients. Take for example the common swede or turnip, if boron is not applied to this plant it gets heart rot. If boron is not applied to P radiata it also gets heart rot, such as weak walled cells resulting in resin pockets.
So when an orchardist applies boron to apple trees to improve the fruit ( reproduction system) I thought why cant it improve the reproduction of P radiata namely improving the number of cones you get per tree.
When I was involved with tree breeding of P radiata in the early 1990's the cost of controlled pollinated seed was extremely high simply due to the lack of cones that could survive after fertilization into the second year.
So I thought why not trial an area of P.radiata that was boron rich to see if we could improve the cone holding capacity of the trees. Initially there appeared to be no difference between boron rich radiata and boron deficient radiata as far as the number of cones it could produce after control pollination.
However after the second year when the cones were removed from the tree and the seeds extracted from these cones there was a dramatic increase in the amount of seed present in the cones from the boron rich trees. Not only was there a significant increase in seed but the seed size was also improved . Especially for some families.
I passed this information on to a couple of my forestry associates who were dealing in nut production and suggested they try boron to improve their nut quality and quantity. In 90% of the cases the objective was achieved.
I know it works for walnuts because I have tried it with our old walnut tree at home. It never bore a lot of fruit until I treated it with boron, two years later the crop was abundant and it has never been anything else since.
So I suggest to all you nut farmers out there, trial your areas with various rates of boron (be careful not to overdose) so I suggest you use Hydroboracite chip and see how your production is effected.