Bamboo

Dendrocalamus Asper – Planting below Interstate 4 in Florida Zone 9a and above only

Dendrocalamus Asper, also known as Rough Bamboo or Giant Bamboo, is a giant tropical and subtropical dense clumping species native to Southeast Asia. This timber bamboo is used as a building material for heavy construction, fabric and in the making of paper while the shoots are consumed as a highly nutritious vegetable low in carbs and gluten free.

Culms: Dendrocalamus Asper has large woody culms between 60 TO 90 feet tall 3 to 6 inches in diameter, and has relatively thick walls (½ to ¾ inch) which become thinner towards the top of the culm. The lower culms show aerial roots (rootlets) from the nodes. Culm inter nodes are ¾ to 1 ½ in long, pale green and covered with short brown hairs.

Branches: Many clustered branches with 1 larger central dominant branch usually occur from ca. 9th node up.

Leaves: Leaf-blades are lance-shaped and between 5 to 11 inches long and 4.5 to 10 inches wide.

Seeds: Flowering cycle and seed-setting is reported to be about every 60-100 years. Dendrocalamus Asper flowers gregariously although sporadic flowering has been reported.

Habitat: Planted or naturalized from low elevations up to 4,500 ft. Dendrocalamus Asper thrives best at 0-1500 ft altitude in areas with average annual rainfall of about 100 inches. They grow well on various soil types, even on sandy and rather acidic soils, but prefers well-drained heavy soils.  If sandy soil is being utilized steps to amend the soil should be taken to insure proper growth and harvest yield.

Uses: Dendrocalamus Asper poles are used as a building material and structural timber for heavy construction such as houses and bridges. The culm inter nodes used as containers for water and other fluids, and as cooking pots. This bamboo is also used for making laminated boards, furniture, musical instruments, chopsticks, household utensils and handicrafts. Young shoots are sweet and considered a delicious vegetable especially when covered with mulch to remain underground before harvest.

Bambusa Oldhamii – Planting above Interstate 4 in Florida and anywhere in SE US where temperatures do not go below 20 °F zone 9a and 8b

Bambusa Oldhamii, known as giant timber bamboo or Oldham’s bamboo, is a large species of bamboo It is the most common and widely grown bamboo in the United States and has been introduced into cultivation around the world.

Culms: The fast growing, strong woody culms of Bambusa bamboos have an average diameter between 4 to 7 inches and are between 65 to 90 feet tall (although the tallest recorded culm measured 131 feet). The inter nodes are dark green colored with very thick walls. Nodes are slightly swollen and some lower nodes produce short aerial roots.

Branches: Nodes contain a central dominant branch with one or two lateral branches and are often spine-like. Thorny lower branches are long and wiry, and usually bent towards the ground. The upper leafy branches produce a fan like plume and bearing small spines.

Leaves: Leaves are lance-shaped with a long-pointed tip. They measure between 6 to 12 inches long with about 10 leaves in each complement.

Habitat:  It has been introduced into cultivation around the world; it is grown under glass in Germany, and in Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Louisiana, and California, where it is the most common clumping bamboo grown, as well as Australia. The maximum height in cultivation varies with the temperature. It tolerates temperatures down to 20 °F.

Uses:  Shoots of Bambusa Oldhamii are highly sought after due to their crisp texture and sweet taste. The culms are used for furniture making, but are not suited to construction

Dendrocalamus Strictus – Planting below Interstate 4 in Florida Zone 9a and above only

Dendrocalamus Strictus also known as Male Bamboo, Solid Bamboo or Calcutta Bamboo is a tropical and subtropical clumping species native to Southeast Asia. This bamboo is extensively used as a raw material in paper mills and has edible shoots.

Culms: is a medium-sized bamboo with culms of about 26 – 65 feet tall and 1-3 inches in diameter. The inter nodes are thick-walled. Culms are hollow when growing under humid conditions, but nearly solid under dry conditions. This species has pale blue – green culms when young, and dull green or yellow culms on maturity, which can slightly zig-zag from the middle towards the top. Its nodes are somewhat swollen and basal nodes are often rooting.

Branches: Many clustered branches with 1 larger dominant branch. The lower nodes often have branches.

Leaves: Leaf size is variable as they are smaller in dry locations and bigger in moist areas, sizes vary between 2 – 10 inches long and ½ – 1 ½ inches broad.

Seeds: Gregarious flowering cycle varies from 25-45 years. This does not mean that all the clumps of a tract flower at the same time. It commences with intensive sporadic flowering for 2-3 years, increasing progressively resulting in the flowering of all the clumps in a period of five years. Sporadic flowering is seen almost every year. Flowers appear from November to February and fruits are seen from February to April.

Habitat: This species is mainly found in semi dry and dry deciduous forests, or as under story in mixed forests and teak plantations. It grows on hill slopes, ravines and alluvial plains from sea level up to 4,000 feet. Dendrocalamus Strictus prefers a low relative humidity and mean annual temperatures between 68-86°F, but can withstand extreme temperatures (as low as 23°F and as high as 113°F). The optimum annual rainfall is 40 to 118 inches, with 12 inches per month during the growing season, but is very drought resistant and grows rather well with only 30 – 40 inches rainfall per year. The species does not grow well on water-logged or heavy soils such as pure clay or a mixture of clay and lime. It rather prefers sandy loam soils with good drainage and a pH between 5.5 – 7.5.

Pruning Bamboo

Pruning is the cutting and removal of culms, branches or leaves of the bamboo. This can be done with sharp pruners, loppers or even a saw depending on how thick the culm is. Note that once any part of the bamboo is cut, it will not grow back.

This characteristic allows the bamboo dimensions to be permanently controlled. ‘Topping’ is a form of pruning to maintain a desired height. As new shoots emerge annually, this will need to be done every year.

When pruning bamboo culms, make cuts just above the culm node. Similarly, when pruning the branches, make cuts above the branch nodes. This way, there is no unsightly stub remaining behind which can rot and deteriorate. To compensate for the lost foliage, branches below the cut line will grow more leaves producing thicker foliage.

Many species of bamboo have very attractive culms and are worthy of showcasing. However, they are sometimes blocked by branches with dense foliage. Removing the lower branches will further expose the beauty of culms and draw attention to them.

Thinning Bamboo

Thinning is the removal of the entire culm by cutting it at ground level. Thinning will allow more air flow and sunlight to penetrate through the foliage canopy, promoting healthier growth. The beauty of the individual culms can further be isolated by thinning, as opposed to having all the culms blended into one dense mass.

Depending on the thickness of the culm, a lopper or saw can be used to make a clean horizontal cut.

Bamboo Facts

Bamboo is the fastest growing woody plant on this planet. 

It grows one third faster than the fastest growing tree. Some species can grow up to 3 feet per day. One can almost “watch it grow”. This growth pattern makes it easily accessible in a minimal amount of time. Size ranges from miniatures to towering culms of 90 feet. A critical element in the balance of oxygen / carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Bamboo is the fastest growing canopy for the re-greening of degraded areas and generates more oxygen than equivalent stand of trees. It lowers light intensity and protects against ultraviolet rays and is an atmospheric and soil purifier.

A viable replacement for wood. 

Bamboo is one of the strongest building materials. Bamboo’s tensile strength is 28,000 per square inch versus 23,000 for steel. In the tropics is it possible to plant and grow your own bamboo home. In a 66 x 66 foot plot, in the course of 5 years, two 26 x 26 foot homes can be constructed from the harvest. Every year after that the yield is one additional house per plot.

An enduring natural resource. 

Bamboo can be selectively harvested annually. Bamboo provided the first re-greening in Hiroshima after the atomic blast in 1945. Thomas Edison successfully used a carbonized bamboo filament in his first experiment with the light bulb. Versatile with a short growth cycle. There are over 1000 species of bamboo on the earth. Diversity makes bamboo adaptable to many environments. It can be harvested in 3-5 years versus 10-20 years for most softwoods. Bamboo tolerates extremes of precipitation, from 30-250 inches of annual rainfall.

A critical element of the economy. 

Bamboo and its related industries already provide income, food and housing to over 2.2 billion people worldwide. There is a 3-5-year return on investment for a new bamboo plantation versus 8-10 years for rattan. Governments such as India, China and Burma with 19,800,000 hectares of bamboo reserves collectively, have begun to focus attention on the economic factors of bamboo production.

An essential structural material in earthquake architecture. 

In Limon, Costa Rica, only the bamboo houses from the National Bamboo Project stood after their violent earthquake in 1992. Flexible and lightweight bamboo enables structures to “dance” in earthquakes.

A renewable resource for agroforestry products. 

Bamboo is a high-yield renewable natural resource: ply bamboo is now being used for wall paneling, floor tiles; bamboo pulp, for paper making, briquettes for fuel; raw material for housing construction; and rebar for reinforced concrete beams.

A soil conservation tool. 

Bamboo is an exquisite component of landscape design. Its anti-erosion properties create an effective watershed, stitching the soil together along fragile river banks, deforested areas, and in places prone to earthquakes and mudslides. The sum of stem flow rate and canopy intercept of bamboo is 25% which means that bamboo greatly reduces rain run-off, preventing massive soil erosion.

An ancient medicine. 

Bamboo has for centuries been used in Ayurveda medicine and Chinese acupuncture. The powdered hardened secretion from bamboo is used internally to treat asthma, coughs and can be used as an aphrodisiac. In China, ingredients from the root of the black bamboo help treat kidney disease. Roots and leaves have also been used to treat venereal disease and cancer. Sap is said to reduce fever and ash will cure prickly heat. Current research point to bamboo’s potential in a number of medicinal uses.

Integrally involved in culture and the arts. 

Bamboo is a mystical plant as a symbol of strength, flexibility, tenacity, endurance, luck and compromise. Throughout Asia, bamboo has for centuries been integral to religious ceremonies, art, music and daily life. It is the paper, the brush and the inspiration of poems and paintings. Among the earliest historical records, 2nd century B.C. were written on green bamboo strips strung together in a bundle with silk thread. Instruments made of bamboo create unique resonance.

A food source.

Bamboo shoots provide nutrition for millions of people worldwide. In Japan, the antioxidant properties of pulverized bamboo bark prevents bacterial growth and its used as a natural food preservative.

Bamboo make fodder for animals and food for fish. 

Taiwan alone consumes 80,000 tons of bamboo shoots annually constituting at $50 million industry.

A landscape design element. 

Bamboo is an exquisite component of landscape design. For the human environment, bamboo provides shade, wind break, acoustical barriers and aesthetic beauty

How to become a Commercial Bamboo Farmer:

Below is a detailed list with an explanation of the process for becoming a commercial bamboo farmer.  Should you have any questions about the steps involved, please give us a call.

Evaluating the site

The first step in establishing a successful farm is to evaluate the site where the bamboo should be planted.

It is important that the bamboo not be planted in areas that have standing water. If different types of soil are present at the site, we need to identify them to address required soil amendments. 

We always suggest you use an irrigation specialist to set up a complete fertigation system if you are not familiar with the process.

Soil Sample

After the site for planting has been confirmed the next step is to analyze the soil to determine what kind of soil it is and also to determine the nutrients and amendments which need to be added to ensure a successful farm.  In most cases several soil samples should be taken for a complete field composite of your site. 

Understanding the information and the opportunity

After the site is evaluated a soil sample composite of like kind soil need to be analyzed we will then make our recommendations for approximate number of plants and next steps to set up a site map.  At this point we will have an estimated number of plants per acre, the total number of overall plants and we will be able to give you a projected ROI specific for your farm as well as the projected cost involved.

Signing the contract

A deposit is required to reserve the plants at our nursery and begin the process to prepare the plants for final delivery. When you confirm a time period you would like to receive the plants, you will then let us know and we will reserve your plants for delivery. 

 When your plants are scheduled for a delivery week, the next part of your deposit is due. 

Finally, when all the steps have been completed, we will need to get a final count and set a firm date for the delivery of your plants.  We will send an invoice to be paid NET30 days after the delivery of your plants which will be the final amount owed on your plants.

Implementing your site map and setting your irrigation

The next step in the process is implementing your site map and setting your irrigation system to insure it is running and working flawlessly before delivery of your plants.

Delivery of your plants,

We will coordinate with the planting team to ensure the plants are delivered and planted correctly.

Once the process is completed, you then should go back to ensure that the irrigation is set properly and that the proper amount of mulch is utilized at each planting site.

Working the farm

The first two months from the initial planting are the most critical time in your young plants’ life.  It is important to carefully monitor the amount of water your plants are getting as well as ensuring the correct amount of fertilizer is utilized.

Of course, we want you to incorporate good farming practices.  This includes maintaining a field that has minimal amounts of weeds as they will compete with your young bamboo plants for vital nutrients, water that are essential to the health and success of the plant.

Preparing the farm

Many of our employees have been part of a nursery or have been farming their whole lives while others continuously do research to ensure they are up to date on the latest growing strategies and procedures for your success.

You can make an appointment for a visit to your bamboo site to ensure you are properly prepared for the upcoming planting.

We will make watering, fertilizing and maintenance overall site recommendations to insure you have the most efficient and thriving bamboo farm possible.

Your first harvest

Your first harvest date is dependent on how your bamboo is growing. Asper begins the shooting process when the ground temperature reaches a sustained 69 degrees F°. In most cases this will be at year 3. 

When you begin to see harvestable shoots, please contact us to coordinate the harvest operation.

Preparing for the harvest

We will coordinate with you when our harvesting team will begin and work with you throughout the summer to make sure you get the highest possible harvest yield.

Trunk harvesting is just as important but usually occurs in the late fall and does not involve the same type of time sensitive constraints.

Continue working your farm

Your farm will require attention for the entire time you are wanting it to produce a harvestable product.

Properly maintaining your farm by following good production practices and fertilizing practices as including when to perform proper harvesting the best shoot to culm harvest ratio and keeping the farm in great overall health will ensure that you get the highest yield possible. 

We will work with you to ensure that you are aware of the latest techniques and procedures throughout the year and continuously throughout the life of your farm.

Understanding How to Grow and Harvest your bamboo.

No matter which species of bamboo you are incorporating into your commercial farming operations it is clear that when it comes to bamboo growing it on a commercial scale is not intuitive.

This is why we have traveled the globe and incorporated numerous experts to ensure that we can correctly answer your questions when it comes to bamboo.  Caution should be exercised when the companies you are thinking about working with have not thought through the answers to your legitimate questions or give you an answer of we will figure that out when the time comes…You have to know to set up your farm correctly!

While most bamboo is very resilient, they are strategies and protocols that will allow the bamboo to thrive rather than just survive.

Bamboo is a living crop, and like any other crop, faces challenges of optimizing water, optimizing nutritional needs, optimizing soil prerequisites as well as soil requirements, understanding potential diseases and pest and overall best farming and harvesting practices.

Understanding that, while basic principles for growth remain constant.  To properly grow bamboo you need to have soil samples, location information for climate and rainfall and an overall understanding of the existing layout.  Only then can you be properly advised of how to best commercially grow bamboo as well as which bamboo might be right for you.

Diseases and Pest

Diseases of Bamboo:  Leaf Rust Fungus, Bamboo Mosaic Virus (BaMV).

  • There are relatively few Bamboo pests and diseases currently in the US
  • But there are many elsewhere in the world that we don’t want to accidentally introduce to the US.
  • Bamboo remains under the USDA plant quarantine act (37 Stat., 315) all propagules subject to quarantine