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News Release

Red Cedar: A Love Hate Relationship

Fred Cummings
(785) 539-8761

Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana L.) has a love/hate relationship with most land owners and managers in the Great Plains region.  It’s success as an evergreen component in windbreaks is unprecedented due to its ability to grow in low water environments and across a wide range of soil textures and pH conditions.  Eastern red cedar (ERC) provides valuable food, shelter and nesting habitat to numerous wildlife species including songbirds like the cedar waxwing and the popular game bird, the ring-neck pheasant, in addition to providing cover for small and large mammals.  The windbreaks that ERC form reduces wind erosion on crop fields, protect livestock and farmsteads against the relentless wind common to the Great Plains, and prevent roadways from becoming unpassable due to drifting snow.  For all these positive attributes, ERC does have a significant downside, namely how easily it spreads from seed.  The invasion of ERC into rangeland is often so severe that ecological and economic thresholds are crossed, in fact from the period of 1965 to 2005, the volume of ERC in the US has increased approximately 23,000%. 

The silver lining to this scenario is ERC is a dioecious species, which means it has distinct male and female plants.  Using tightly controlled propagation techniques, cuttings are taken from male ERC specimens and adventitious rooting is initiated in a greenhouse setting.

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