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Industrial Uses Of Hemp

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A Short History of Cannabis Hemp Since ancient times, until this century, hemp was used throughout the world to provide food, fiber, paper, medicine, shelter and fuel. In the early 1900’s Henry Ford used fuel made from hemp to run the first cars, and believing that hemp would play an even larger role in the automobile industry, he built a car body made from hemp fiber that was stronger than steel, yet only a fraction of the weight (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srgE6Tzi3Lg).  Ford’s engineers found ways to extract methanol, charcoal, tar, pitch, ethyl acetate and creosote – all from hemp and all of which are fundamental ingredients used throughout industry. But since the prohibition of hemp in the 1930’s, these ingredients have…

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Beyond The Backyard – Ghosts Of The Graveyard

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They stand erect and tall as guardian soldiers, swords at the ready, ever on duty in our cemeteries. The dagger like plants of Draceanaafromontana and then Yucca were planted at the headstone or in place of one at unmarked graves to ward off evil and keep restless spirits from wandering. They are profoundly significant as a symbol of eternity and mourning in the cultural beliefs of tropical Africa. The tradition continued throughout the Americas and the Caribbean settlements, the Yucca becoming our sentinel. The name Yucca applies to more than 50 species that have mostly adapted to all types of terrain and share characteristics of appearance and chemistry. They are evergreens, drought tolerant, spread rapidly, fire adaptive, prefer full sun…

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Surinam Cherry

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Surinam cherry bushes grow all over Belize; they have pumpkin-shaped fruits that are botanically berries, but resemble cherries. If you are not familiar with Surinam cherries, imagine classic bing cherries with eight ribs growing on beautiful glossy evergreen leaved bushes. The cherries/berries look like cherries, but do not taste like cherries. The taste of the Surinam cherry fruit when ripe is said to resemble fig, mango, green pepper, with undertones of balsam and apricot, and even a touch of pine-like resin and tobacco aftertaste. Before the fruits are ripe they are tart, acidic and bitter tasting. It is best to pick only the fruits which are dark red and readily fall into your hand. There is a rare variety of…

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The Majestic Mango

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Stately, massive mango trees are the glory of a tropical farm. No other fruit is anticipated with such eagerness; no other fruit tree is so abundant to the point of overwhelming when they bear well. The varieties are as different as apple varieties and each one may have its own loyal devotee. Grafted mango trees begin to bear from 2 to 3 years from planting and continue for many, many years. As I write, the view through one of the windows of our house is fully dominated by the foliage of a mango tree about 20 yards away; it may be 40 years old and is bearing again this year. It used to bear only a type of mango known…

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Importance of Biological Control and its Role in Managing Huanglongbing (HLB) in Belize

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Figure 1: Adult Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and nymphs (Warnert, 2013) [above] Contributors:  Ing. Helen Theresa Choco, Manuel Garcia, Veronica Manzanero-Majil             The presence of the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP), a tiny insect about 4 mm in size (figure 1) was first detected in Belize in 2005. Later, in 2009, the presence of Huanglongbing (HLB) (formerly citrus greening) was confirmed in Belize. ACP is the most efficient vector responsible for the spread of HLB in the Americas. Considering the potential gravity of HLB based on experiences from other countries, the Citrus Research and Education Institute (CREI), the research arm of the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) in collaboration with the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA), the…

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Sweet and Sour Dreams

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March 2015 ( not April Fools day) we are reading in the news that a thousand year old Anglo Saxon recipe found in the British Library that is actually ninety percent effective in the eradication of the superbug MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). Following the directions to the letter, scientists concocted a stew of onions, leaks, and garlic, stewed in vintage wine and cows’ bile in a brass vessel for nine days to an amazing success. It may appear to be improbable that, after all, this time we are finding simple ingredients have the power to cure devastating diseases, but perhaps we need to pay more attention. For centuries folk healers around the world have claimed that God created plants…

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Breadfruit Basics

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Beautiful tropical breadfruit trees are very well-adapted to Belize’s growing conditions including the rainy season; however, they can get water-stressed, resulting in partial defoliation in the dry season months but the tree continues to grow and bear fruit. The breadfruit tree has an exotic, lush tropical appearance due to its very large, lovely, lobed leaves. Breadfruit, (Artocarpusaltilis) is in the plant family Moraceae. There are both seeded and seedless breadfruit varieties. Other cultivated Artocarpus species include Artocarpuscamansi, known as breadnut; A. heterophyllus, jackfruit, and A.integer, champedak. Another relative of the breadfruit called dugdug is A. mariannensis, and the popular marang is A. odoratissimus. The seeds in all Artocarpus species may be boiled or roasted; they are both starchy and delicious.…

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Belize Ag Youth Reporter Visits Miss Chrissie’s Whiz Bang Chicken Plucker

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This is not a fiction article, although from the title it might be about a farm beside “Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory”. Belize Ag Youth Reporter Nick Roberson*, is fascinated and curious about all aspects of chickens and other domesticated fowl – guineas, turkeys, ducks, geese, he loves them all. Nick is always ready to accompany Belize Ag writers out on any chicken story. So when Ms. Chrissie Tupper announced to a few friends that she acquired a brand new Whiz Bang Chicken Plucker, imported from the USA and ready for assembly at her farm behind the Tuppers’ restaurant, Cheers With a Tropical Twist, at Mile 31 on the George Price Highway, Belize Ag planned to check it out. March 23rd…

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Trapping the Mischievous Palm Weevil to Prevent Red Ring Disease in Your Coconut Grove

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In the last issue of the Belize Ag Report (issue # 29 pg 37) Forrest Tackitt wrote about Red Ring Disease in coconuts. The vector for this disease which affects coconut and African oil palms, with up to 80% mortality, is the palm weevil (Rynchophoruspalmarum). This large red snout beetle is native all the way from Mexico through South America and resides in some parts of the Caribbean as well. The nematode (Bursaphelenchus cocophilus) which is the direct cause of Red Ring Disease, is carried in the gut of this palm weevil. San Miguel learned a successful technique to trap this beetle vector from the staff of Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agricolas y Pecuarias (INIFAP) in Chetumal, Quintana…

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Beyond The Backyard – A Leaf From My Recipe Book

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Eating from the wild can create an unexpected culinary masterpiece or become a recipe for disaster. It is important to have sufficient information. Knowing something to be edible is not enough to prevent you from harm. Knowledge of content and preparation is essential. My daughter-in-law decorated our dinner plates with the wonderful heart shaped leaves of the taro plant commonly called elephant ears placed under some delicious stewed chicken. Whilst scooping up the juices my son popped  the leaf in his mouth chewed it up and moments later was gasping for water and on the verge of a trip to the emergency room even though that would have meant  thirty miles of rough roads at night. These plants have saponins…

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