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If You Are a Monarch Butterfly- It's ALL About the Milkweed- So BASF Has Established the Living Acres Initiative

Sat, 19 Mar 2016 13:40:32 CDT

If You Are a Monarch Butterfly- It's ALL About the Milkweed- So BASF Has Established the Living Acres Initiative

It's all about the Milkweed. At least, it is if you are a Monarch Butterfly. The Monarch is one of the most beloved insects in the United States- and the annual journey that Monarchs take from Mexico up into the United States and eventually to Canada is nothing short of amazing. According to Dr. Harold Coble, that journey is totally dependent on Monarchs finding Milkweed along their flight paths. And in recent years, that has become problematic.

Dr. Coble, a Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University, has worked with BASF on research that has considered the best ways to establish milkweed plots in non crop areas along the traditional fight paths that Monarch Butterflies take from Mexico across the United States- including in Texas and Oklahoma. The Monarch will only lay its eggs on a Milkweed plant- and the number of Monarchs that are able to make their journey northward each year is dependent on finding milkweed plants to establish their next generation.

Dr. Coble has looked at both planting milkweed seed as well as using root slips of milkweed- and has determined that using the root slips offer a higher level of success in establishing milkweed stands. "Plants from root sections are much more vigorous than seedlings and will grow rapidly. They can easily reach up to six feet in height under good growing conditions."

Under a grant from BASF, Dr. Coble identified seven steps for successfully establishing milkweed in non-production areas: seed/root, pot, plant, spread, water, grow and mow. While some areas of a farm may better support milkweed stands than others, this work focuses on non-cropland areas such as ditches, roadsides, alleyways and other border areas.

The research, conducted in 2015, found that creating milkweed refuges will take an upfront investment of time, but once established it should support itself year after year with minimal effort.

At a recent seminar held just ahead of the 2016 Commodity Classic, BASF unveiled their first year of research on the Monarch Butterfly population regeneration project that they are calling Living Acres. At that Seminar, Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays talked with Dr. Coble about his research and how establishing milkweed is a key component in increasing the numbers of Monarchs in the years to come. You can hear their conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.

A copy of a brochure about establishing monarch butterfly refuges in non-crop areas of a farm, written by Dr. Coble, is available from BASF by clicking here.


Ron Hays talks with Dr. Harold Coble about milkweed plots to increase Monarch Butterfly Numbers
right-click to download mp3


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