Siberian beauties take root in Polesie

First crop of cedar cones gathered in Vetka District of Gomel Region
By Andrey Smolsky

Remarkably, Siberian cedars have begun to grow in various corners of Belarus, in small numbers — even bearing fruit. Clearly, the Siberian beauties are able to thrive here. Forests may soon be planted to take advantage of the situation, with thanks most due to Vetka resident Gennady Asanov, a native of Siberia. Destiny brought him to Belarus — as his wife is from the Vetka District. Many decades ago, having read the Soviet magazine Wood and Man, about cedars being able to grow and bear fruit beyond Siberia and the Far East, he decided to try his hand, bringing back cones from a trip East.

Of course, Belarus is located on the same parallel as Altai but imagine his surprise on seeing shots begin to grow. In time, the first sapling grew stronger and Gennady realised that his attempts to grow Siberian giants here might not be hopeless. Mr. Asanov then planted a small area in the village of Pobuzhie, in the Vetka District.

In 2010, after 35 years, some of the trees were mature enough to produce cones: a real wonder since they don’t usually do so until aged about 60. Mr. Asanov still views the success as a minor miracle, having reconciled himself to perhaps never seeing them bear fruit. This May, he noticed that every tree is now bearing cones, with the trees achieving an average height of 14-15m.

Vetka’s forestry enterprise has helped Mr. Asanov in gathering the cedar cones, using an ordinary fruit gathering machine. Of course, few people in our country have experience in this field. The first crop appeared modest — just a few kilograms — but they offer the chance for future planting, so are being kept safely in Gennady’s home.

Ivan Gorelikov, the Deputy Director of Vetka’s forestry enterprise actually has some knowledge of Siberia and cedars, so has been supporting Mr. Asanov’s work. He notes, “Regarding making a plantation, our enterprise intends to cultivate cedars across the district. I think that our arboretum being planted in autumn will attract visitors and local residents; we’ll repeat the process in spring. Gennady has already planted a walnut avenue, having bought seeds and planted them; 18 seedlings have taken root.”

The Wood Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus is keen to grow cedars also, opening wide horizons for the species in our country.
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