Monday, April 06, 2009

Peyote harvest regrowth

In 2008 the Cactus Conservation Institute launched a four-year study on the effects of harvesting on regrowth and mortality of peyote in habitat in South Texas.

50 plants were transected (harvested March 13, 2008) and tagged, and follow-up data were collected eight months later (November 22-23, 2008). Mortality of a harvested plant is inferred if it produces no regrowth of buttons - after 8 months 5 of the 50 plants had not grown any new pups (coming surveys will provide a more certain estimate of post-harvest mortality). Interestingly 11 out of the original 50 numbered tags and the plants to which they referred had gone missing – maybe washed down by rains, maybe dug up and buried by feral hogs. The 11 plants where neither plant nor tag were found are, at present, eliminated from the study resulting in a preliminary figure for mortality attributable to harvesting of 5/39, or about 13%. 

20 more plants were harvested, measured and tagged on November 23, 2008, bringing the total number of plants in the “harvested” group up to 59. Furthermore a control group of 50 plants were also tagged and measured on November 23, 2008 – these plants will be used to indicate the magnitude of natural mortality not associated with harvesting in the future.

The surviving plants show good regrowth which is attributed to the benefit of the good harvesting practice of cutting high (at or above the junction of green aerial stem and the beige subterranean stem) and relatively level.

You can read an update on the results in the “Peyote harvest regrowth – observations after one year” post and find the complete data from the peyote harvest regrowth study here.

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