Big Oil, Chemical & Farm Machinery companies provide superb Monarch Butterfly Breeding Habitat

John Shuey jshuey at TNC.ORG
Mon Aug 12 14:13:53 EDT 2002

Dr. Pleasants  must work in a land where round-up ready crops don't dominate
the landscape - say like the fantasy world of Paul Cherunbini's brain.

Round-up ready beans, 50% of the bean-corn rotation in the Midwest, insure
that fields are virtually weed-free - milkweeds included.  (note that
milkweeds were one of the most persistent problems that traditional tillage
farmers had to cope with - a long-lived plant that can spread through root
fragments).  But now, thanks to roundup ready bean fields, the two annual
herbicide applications make for a weed free field for both the bean and the
corn rotation.  Farmers are realizing the benefits they get from just one or
two cycles of the genetically altered crops - and they have been used on
almost every row-crop acre in Indiana to eliminate the persistent weed

And I speak from experience - My chapter of TNC has about 3,500 acres in the
corn - bean rotation at the moment  -  part of our Kankakee Sands
Restoration -
We love round-up ready beans - for the weed free environment they provide
for our initial restoration planting.  In fact, we require our tenant
farmers to plant the GM crop during the last cropping year before we restore
the site.  And I can personally attest, that no milkweed survives the
round-up treatments inside one of these units for more than a single growing
season. I was just at the site last Thursday looking at site preparation for
next year's prairie restoration , and spotting 3-foot tall milkweed in
16-inch tall soybean fields is like spotting an elephant eating a bale of

By the way, we have 4 milkweeds in the project nursery, Asclepias hirtella,
Asclepias incarnata, Asclepias purpurescens and Asclepias tuberosa and wild
collect 2 others -  Asclepias sullivantii and  Asclepias viridiflora.  Last
year we planted a little over 10 pounds of clean Asclepias seed (~760,000
seeds).  Our real goal (which the nursery is designed to hit) is about 60
pounds of seed per year, or  ~0.2 Asclepias seeds per square foot seeded.
Hopefully we will start getting near the target weight next year.


John Shuey
Director of Conservation Science
Indiana Office of The Nature Conservancy

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