Orchard Trees with Mistletoe
A survey about mistletoe management in traditional orchards, covering management issues and your views on increasing or decreasing mistletoe quantities. It is relevant to orchard owners across Britain and Ireland, particularly those in mistletoe's core growing areas.

BACKGROUND: Most mistletoe in Britain grows in the SW Midlands of England and, within that area, most of the seasonal mistletoe harvest (sent around the whole country at Christmas) comes from traditional apple orchards. Mistletoe grows readily in the orchards of the area and fruit trees are the only type of tree where it is easily harvested.

But traditional apple orchards have been declining for decades, with over half the acreage replaced following agricultural changes since the 1950s. Many traditional orchards that have survived are neglected and slowly dying, as most fruit production has shifted to new intensively planted orchards where the trees are too small to support mistletoe.

Nevertheless the mistletoe harvest continues each year, as there are still enough orchards with mistletoe. Indeed there seems to be more mistletoe in some of the old orchards. This is likely to be linked to neglect - mistletoe, a parasite that reduces tree vigour, is no longer being managed because the old orchards are no longer productive. Some orchards now seem more valuable for the mistletoe crop than the fruit crop.

That may seem reassuring for mistletoe supply - but it is not a sustainable situation as the mistletoe-bearing orchards are still declining. Indeed if mistletoe has increased significantly in some of them that decline may now accelerate: Too much mistletoe will hasten the death of its host tree and so a recent increase in mistletoe may, ironically, cause a sudden decrease in the near future.

All of this commentary is based on observation alone - there is very little documented information on how mistletoe is managed in orchards, or whether mistletoe management has changed in recent decades. This project 'Orchard Trees with Mistletoe' aims to gather some definitive information. It will take several years to produce results, as participation will inevitably be gradual.

This is one of several mistletoe survey projects from Mistletoe Matters, based in Gloucestershire, For details of these and others (including a survey endeavouring to find which fruit, particularly apple, varieties are most susceptible/resistant to mistletoe) please visit www.surveys.mistletoe.org.uk 

Results of the survey will be available via the link above in due course. The survey will be open for several years, so rapid results are not expected. This updated version of the survey form (originally part of the 'Mistletoe League' suite of surveys) was released in October 2015.
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LOCATION QUESTIONS: Where is your orchard(s)? *
This question is about your location - in one of the counties in mistletoe's main UK area, or elsewhere in England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland
Postcode (or town in the Irish Republic) *
Collecting your postcode to help us get a better idea of your location. Please enter your full postcode, or your nearest town or village and county if in the Irish Republic
Precise location (grid reference, address)
This is optional but would be helpful for geographical analysis
Which type is your main fruit tree? *
ORCHARD QUESTIONS: Range of fruit species *
Which fruit trees do you have in your orchard(s) - please tick all that apply - you can indicate which you have most of in the next question
How well is your orchard managed? *
Is your orchard regularly managed and fruit cropped, less managed but still in good condition, very neglected/derelict, or is it undergoing active restoration?
How old are your fruit trees? *
Approximately how old are your fruit trees? Please pick one answer per type of tree, choosing the best fit for most of the trees if you have an age range.
Less than 10 years
10-40 years
Over 40 years
Don't have any
Eating/Cooking Apple
Cider Apple
Pears (eating or perry)
What size of trees do you have? *
How big are your fruit trees? Please pick one answer per type of tree, choosing the best fit for most of the trees if you have a size range.
Traditional Standard (long ladder needed to reach fruit)
Half Standard (step ladder needed to reach fruit)
Dwarf Stock (all fruit easily reached without a ladder)
Don't have any
Eating/Cooking Apple
Cider Apple
Pear (eating or perry)
Any other information about your fruit trees
This is an optional free-form answer - please enter any other information that may be of interest about your fruit trees.
And how big is your orchard? *
Another free-form answer - please enter area (please state if acres or hectares) if you know it, or just give a brief statement describing it - e.g. number of fields with an indication of size
MISTLETOE QUESTIONS: How many of your fruit trees have mistletoe on them? *
Which fruit tree is most affected? *
Which type of tree is most affected by mistletoe in your orchard?
Are other fruit trees also affected? *
Can you estimate the proportions of each type of tree affected by mistletoe? If not just enter "No" or "Don't Know"
What is the approximate male/female balance of your mistletoe plants? *
Mistletoe has separate male and female plants, and only the female has berries. The male plants become particularly obvious in winter when the female plants bear berries
Do you think the male/female balance has changed over the years? *
Do you usually harvest some mistletoe at Christmas for sale? *
Do you do any mistletoe management other than harvesting for Christmas? *
If you do manage/harvest the mistletoe do you try to cut equal quantities of male (berry-less) as well as female (berried) plants? *
Has the amount of mistletoe changed in recent years? *
Do you think the amount of mistletoe in your orchard has increased or decreased?
If you harvest mistletoe for Christmas how do you sell/market it? *
Please tick all that apply.
Do you have any additional observations or comments about mistletoe in orchards?
If not just leave blank.
If you like to be sent updates on this survey's findings please add your name and an email and/or postal address below.
If not just leave blank.
And finally: Please write in the date you are filling in this survey *
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