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Is It Really Mold?

This article is reprinted with permission from our friends at National Wooden Pallet and Container Association. Originally published in March/April 2018 edition of Pallet Central - Written by Annie Montey

For many companies, discovering black discoloration on your wood packaging products can be troublesome. At first glance it might look like mold fungi, which are a great cause of concern regarding human health, but it might be something else entirely. There are types of fungi that grow on lumber called bluestain but they are not linked to human health concerns. Interestingly, there are also other types of naturally occurring defects in lumber that might look like mold but in fact are not biological. Before you “jump the gun” and ask your supplier to replace all your wood pallets with fresh ones, keep in mind there are many types of naturally occurring, non-biological defects that may look scary, but are not caused by microorganisms (fungi, bacteria, etc). Understanding the difference could save you time, money, and a great deal of worry. The report “Wood Discolourations & Their Preventions, with an Emphasis on Bluestain” discusses the different types of discoloration commonly found on wood products and how to identify them.

Iron Stain

Iron stain is considered the most common type of black stain found on wood products. According to the report, “it is caused by elemental iron reacting with phenolic chemicals in the wood to
form black iron tannates, or common black ink pigment.” In other words, if particles of iron are deposited on wood during railway transport or if steel wire, staples, or nails are in direct contact with wood and the wood becomes wet, the wood might become stained dark with iron. Even saw blades will sometimes cause these streaks.

Brown Stain or Zebra Stain

In western hemlock, a type of discoloration occurs only after the wood is dried in a kiln. Whereas the unaffected areas appear light yellow, affected areas appear dark brown, making for noticeable
differences in surface color variation. Below the surface of susceptible pieces, sometimes the brown stain will appear black after the wood is dried. This is known as zebra stain. Zebra stains happen when iron or manganese darkens the browning and makes it turn black.

Bluestain

Bluestain is the most common type of fungi found in wood products that is commonly confused with mold. Unlike mold fungi, bluestain is not linked to human health issues. Bluestain is not
airborne. Also, because the bluestain fungi do not digest the wood cell wall, they have minimal impact on the wood structural integrity. In other words, although it looks harmful, it will not decay the wood.

Sun Exposure

If your wood product is left outside and exposed to the sun, over time it will darken (like a sun tan) and may make the wood appear dirty or damaged. The impact of sun exposure causes a chemical change in the tannins of the wood that, over time, react to the sun’s exposure. If this happens to your wood packaging product, or other lumber product, it’s said to be “weathered.”

Enzymatic Discolorations

Red alder, oaks, beech, maples, and other hardwood species are commonly susceptible to enzymatic discoloration. This is the reaction of enzymes or polyphenolic compounds in living cells. This produces a grayish or brownish tone in sapwood.

Mineral Discolorations

Typically seen in the forms of dark lines or streaks in oak, green or brown patches in sugar maple, or purple to black areas in yellow poplar; mineral discoloration sometimes develops in standing or fallen trees in mineral rich soils. Preventing discolorations caused from iron stain and weathering are quite manageable. If you store wood products outdoors, keep them covered yet ventilated to prevent weathering. Also, keep your ferrous metals from having direct contact with lumber to prevent black ink stains. Other types of black stains and discolorations, like zebra stains, enzymatic discolorations or mineral discolorations, are naturally occurring and challenging to control.


new-pallet

GMA Pallets

GMA Pallets

 

Pallets are a product we tend to overlook in our day-to-day lives, and yet over 80% of all materials and equipment is transported, moved and even displayed using wooden pallets. If you are researching and preparing to use pallets for your own project, then it’s important to understand the different types and grades of pallets.  Most importantly, you need to be familiar with the industry standard of the pallet world—GMA pallets.

 

What is a GMA pallet?

GMA stands for the Grocery Manufacturers Association of America and refers to stringer pallets that adhere to the size and quality standards set in the association’s guidelines.  GMA pallets are always 48” x 40” with the stringers running the 48” length. All GMA pallets are built using three stringers to support three to five baseboards and five to seven top deck boards.  Finally, all GMA pallets are built with a four-way entry and flush mounted boards. While GMA pallets follow the same set of rules, they certainly are not all created equally!

 

GMA Pallet Grades

GMA pallets come in four distinct grades. Premium Grade A Pallets are the cleanest option and won’t include any block or metal repairs to stringers or have colored or painted stringers. These pallets are entirely or mostly clean of paint or markings. Being of the highest quality, these pallets are most typically used in retail, where they can be seen by consumers as part of store displays. Grade A Pallets are the next grade and are typically used in the food and pharmaceutical industry. They adhere to the same guidelines as all GMA pallets but may have a single metal repair plate per stringer to strengthen splits. Other blemishes such as minor cracks, chips, and some visible paint markings are acceptable. Premium Grade B is still a great pallet option that will provide cost savings without sacrificing quality. These pallets will have only one repair on any one stringer, never more and will have fewer transfer cycles than a Grade B. They are allowed to have paint and other markings on the stringers. Grade B is the lowest grade of GMA pallet and as such are much less expensive than their Grade A counterparts. These pallets are typically used for warehousing and shipping. Chips, partial split boards, repaired stringers and paint markings are all standard on Grade B pallets.

It’s important to understand the different grades of GMA pallets in order to make the best choice for your needs. Regardless of grade, if your pallets are GMA standardized, you’ll have an easier time coordinating shipping with different partners.


Transportation Issues, Retail Price Wars Affecting Mulch/Soil Industry

Reprinted, with permission, from the Vol. XII No.2 March/April 2018 of Soil & Mulch Producer News.

By Ken McEntee

For almost 40 years, Hardwood Mulch Corp., located about 35 miles southeast of Richmond, Va., hauled loads of wood mulch to a loyal customer in Maryland. That ended this year because of new interstate trucking regulations that mandate the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) to monitor a driver's hours of service, said Garland Anderson, owner of the company.

ELDs synchronize with a vehicle's engine to automatically record driving time.

"We gave up on hauling mulch out of the state," Anderson said. "I can't be sure every day that my driver is going to be at his finish point when his time runs out. When you keep a customer for 39 years, you're doing something right. He's 140 miles away and I've even encouraged him to buy something closer, but he's always been willing to pay the freight because he couldn't find a product that matched my quality. But now I'm only going to haul to customers in Virginia."

Transportation issues, including the new ELD regulations and a nationwide driver shortage, are problematic for the mulch and soil business, said Robert LaGasse, executive director of the Mulch and Soil Council (MSC), of Shallowater, Tex.

"The ELD regulations have gotten everybody crazy," LaGasse said.

Trucking is one of several challenges cited by mulch producers moving into the busiest season of the year. Others include price erosion caused by increased competition and a flood of inferior quality products in the market, according to survey responses and conversations with producers from around the U.S.

However, most producers contacted for this article are optimistic that sales this year will exceed last year's numbers. About half of the respondents to a market survey by Soil and Mulch Producer News reported a decline in bulk sales in 2017 relative to 2016, while about 30 percent reported higher bulk sales. The opposite was true in the bagged mulch market, with about half reporting better sales in 2017 and almost 40 percent reporting a decline.

Trucking issues

"ELDs have been around for a number of years," LaGasse said. "But a mandate was implemented in December with a firm compliance date of April 1, so now all trucks are supposed to have ELD devices. Allowable hours of service have been reduced from 14 to 12 and driving time is limited to 10 hours."

Although the ELD compliance is for interstate truckers, individual states are expected to adopt similar regulations for intrastate trucking. Texas was the first state to issue an ELD requirement, with a compliance date of December 19, 2019. Trucks carrying agricultural products during harvest season who stay within a 150-air-mile radius are exempt from the Texas mandate.

Exceptions to the new federal rule include drivers who require logs no more frequently than eight days per 30-day period and drivers of vehicles manufactured before the model year 2000.

According to DAT Solutions, a Beaverton, Ore.-based marketplace of news, trends and analysis of the truckload freight business, ELDs are likely to have a 3 to 5 percent impact on carrier productivity overall, but not all hauls and carriers will be affected equally. "The impact will be felt disproportionately on longer, one-day hauls of more than 450 miles and also on short-haul operations that push the current 14-hour limits today," DAT said. "Any time ELD requirements cause trips to spill over into a second day, it means rescheduled appointments, missed reloads and a host of operational issues."

For mulch producers, LaGasse said, probably the biggest problem with the new mandate is that the time a driver waits to be loaded and unloaded counts toward his driving time.

"If a driver drives an hour to a big supplier and has a long line, he could be waiting two hours to get loaded, before sitting for another hour while they load him up," LaGasse said. "That waiting around cuts into the driving time. (MSC) has a committee looking to apply for an exemption with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to let mulch haulers go back to 14 hours of service. Exemptions have been made to other industries like perishable goods. The nursery industry is applying for an exemption based on the perishability of its plants. The concrete and asphalt businesses have gotten exemptions because of the seasonality of their businesses. Because we are such a heavy seasonal business, we hope to get a similar exemption."

LaGasse said MSC also is looking into getting a credit for the time a driver waits for loading and unloading.

"But that isn't going to make more trucks available," he added.

Because of a shortage of drivers across the country - estimates range between 300,000 and 1 million short - trucking will continue to be a problem not only for the mulch business, but for all businesses, says Larry Doose, Silva Corp., Princeton, Minn.

"We've had a challenge getting drivers here over the past few years because the pool of available drivers is shrinking, but as far as the electronic logging, we were ready for that back in December and it is not impacting us. I understand that it is impacting some other people," Doose said.

Pete Adkins, of Columbia Cedar, Kettle Falls, Wash., said the ELD rules may drive up the price of shipping.

"When the driver is sitting at a destination to get loaded or unloaded it is counting all their time regardless of whether they are driving or not," he said. "It is causing less trips for the drivers and therefore they need to get paid more, so its just a big battle to pay for freight."

The result, at least in some cases, is higher prices for mulch.

"The availability of trucks is a growing problem and it's going to make things more expensive," LaGasse said. "High demand and low availability equals a big price."

"People have been used to paying a certain price and now it has gone up quite a bit," Adkins added. "One of our larger accounts said he has had to send a message out to all his customers and explain why the prices have to come up."

Big boxes and downward prices

Meanwhile, according to Eric Laszewski, of Waupaca Northwoods LLC, of Waupaca, Wisc., low prices of colored mulch at national chains are devaluing the business.

"The big box boys are going at it and making colored mulch a commodity item," he said. "Walmart is out there everyday at $1.96 and Lowes and Home Depot go head to head with their five bags for $10. Small players in the market can't compete at $1.96 a bag. And the big boxes aren't creating new consumers for the product. They're just taking existing consumers and giving them a cheaper product."

Private labels of national chains are increasingly taking a larger market share of the retail mulch market, Laszewski said.

"If you walk into a Lowes or a Home Depot, they are going to push their private label, they'll maybe carry a Scotts product or a regional supplier," he said. "What we're seeing more and more is that the private labels are eating up more of the volume, because from the average consumer's perspective, why would I pay more for a Scotts bag when I can get this other stuff for a fraction of the price."

It isn't only national retailers pushing prices down, according to Anderson. He said he pays $500 to $600 a load for a clean, pre-ground raw material - mainly from logging operations and bark from sawmills. Now, he said, he is competing with new players who charge a tipping fee for yard debris and other material and undercut him on the price of their product.

"One of my most rapidly growing customers has just cut his purchase from me by well over half," Anderson said. "The bottom line of it was it was a dollar a yard cheaper. What are you going to do? Can I cut my price? Sure. Then the new guy that came in will cut his price. Who wins? The customer. He's getting it for less and less. But what gets thrown under the bus is quality. I've been doing this for 43 years and I am not the new kid on the block. If people don't want quality then I'm the wrong person to call. I am not cutting my price… there’s no future in that."

Strong building industry

Despite a rainy spring in some regions and late snows in others, most survey respondents are generally optimistic about a strong year for bagged mulch sales, with slightly less optimism about bulk sales.

"We had a relatively good year last year, Doose said. "Now we have 12 inches of snow on the ground as we speak so we're going to be four to six weeks behind last year's schedule. Hope we can catch up. We talked with other people further south and they had a slow start too, but they are already caught up. I think the season will be crammed into a shorter time period."

Doose said he is optimistic about the economy.

"Short of having a major world event out there I think things will go just fine," he said.

According to Beau Gibney, of Green Vision Materials, Newbury, Ohio, "We already see an increase in the demand for packaged material. We also anticipate bulk to increase but we expect a drop as we are seeing more folks getting into the business largely due to the availability of raw materials.

A good business

Despite the challenges of trucking and product price pressure, Anderson said mulch sales is still a good business to be in.

"I started this business with my brother more than 40 years ago and it isn't getting any easier," he said. "Every morning when I wake up I don't feel like I'm cursed. I go out to a business that I own. It's all mine and I still like it."


Top Ten Reasons You Should be Using Nazareth Pallet Mulch

Top Ten Reasons You Should Be Using Nazareth Pallet Mulch

At the first signs of spring, everyone’s minds begin to turn towards their spring landscaping plans. After being cooped up in the house all winter, it’s refreshing to finally begin to think about breaking out of the house and spending some time in the yard! Ideas begin to form about which flowers and vegetables should be planted for the season along with what to do to make your property stand out among the rest. Well, here is the tip you have been waiting for! After reading this blog, you will be one step ahead of your neighbors! Why? You’ll will be armed with the secret weapon you need to need to know about in order to make your property shine – mulch from Nazareth Pallet Co.! Here are the top ten reasons you need to know about right now!

  1. Other mulches can actually cause weeds!! Ours won’t!

Sure, there are other places to buy mulch besides Nazareth Pallet. Heck, some cities and townships even provide it to their residents for free. The problem is you never know exactly what that mulch was made from. Some mulch companies grind up any wood they can get their hands on. Even worse, many towns that sell or give away mulch take the yard waste their residents drop off and use that as their main ingredient. I’m sure you can imagine what will happen to your garden if you are using mulch made from ground up weeds. You guessed it! More weeds! Not only will you spend your summer pulling weed after weed you thought your mulch layer would prevent, you may even begin to notice some slime or mold growth beginning to form. That’s what happens when other companies grind up green wood. It starts to decompose – in YOUR flowerbeds! This won’t happen with mulch from Nazareth Pallet. Why? Because our mulch is made exclusively from 100% recycled pallet wood. That’s right – 100%!!! Have you ever seen a weed growing out of a pallet? I didn’t think so. You will never have to worry about where your mulch came from, or what was used to make it. Best of all, you will no longer have to worry that your mulch might actually be the cause of your weeds!

 

  1. Nazareth Pallet mulch can save you time and energy!

When you buy your mulch from Nazareth Pallet, you can take all that time and energy you used to use pulling weeds to actually do something that you love! Also, why waste a day driving back and forth to your local garden center to load bag after heavy bag of expensive mulch? Just swing by our location at 800 Held Dr., Northampton, PA with your pick-up (or your neighbor’s pick-up – just be sure to ask first!) and we’ll do all the loading for you! Your back will thank us!

 

  1. Superior quality

Our state-of-the-art mulching equipment provides the quality of triple ground mulch. No more giant chunks or messy clumps of inferior mulch to make your masterpiece look messy!

 

  1. Earth friendly colorants

All of our mulch dyes are purchased with the environment in mind. You can rest assured that everything that goes into our mulch is environmentally friendly and won’t harm Mother Earth.

 

  1. Made locally right here in the Lehigh Valley

What’s better than a product that’s made in the USA? A product made right here in the Lehigh Valley! When you use Nazareth Pallet mulch, you help to support local business and help keep jobs right here in your own backyard!

 

  1. Prevent soil erosion – naturally!

Bothered by that pesky incline on your property that seems to wash away a little more every time it rains? Sick and tired of watching your dirt slide into places it doesn’t belong? Solve the problem with pallet mulch! Nazareth Pallet mulch helps to absorb the excess moisture and keep your soil where you want it. Use that time you’ll save by not having to clean up every storm to do something you can actually enjoy!

 

  1. Nazareth Pallet mulch is the ultimate “Go Green” product!

Pallets make the world go ‘round. 95% of the world’s goods are shipped on pallets. At Nazareth Pallet, we recycle hundreds of thousands of pallets every year – removing bad wood from used pallets and replacing boards so that the pallets can be reused. Eventually, some pallets are worn beyond repair. Our wood never ends up in a burn pit polluting the air or in a landfill wasting valuable space! At Nazareth Pallet, we take that wood and turn it into the highest quality mulch – the ultimate in recycling! Large magnets catch the metal pallet nails during the grinding process, and then those nails get recycled, too!

 

  1. Ramp up your curb appeal game

Everyone wants their home to look fabulous, after all, that’s one of the reasons we plant all those trees, shrubs, flowers, and veggies to begin with! Adding luxurious, rich, colored Nazareth Pallet mulch to your landscaping provides that polished touch that makes it stand out from the rest!

 

  1. Our colors won’t fade!

Our mulch is available in Intoxication Black, Inspiration Brown, and Million Dollar Red, as well as uncolored, so you can be confident that we have the perfect shade to coordinate with your landscaping color scheme. Best of all, Nazareth Pallet mulch won’t fade! There’s nothing worse than having to remulch half way through the season because your mulch has faded and lost its luster. Our superior coloring system ensures that your mulch will hold its beauty. Summer will eventually fade, but your mulch sure won’t!

 

  1. Conserve Natural Resources

A generous layer of Nazareth Pallet mulch will help prevent soil evaporation, which keeps more moisture in the ground. Not only will you save even more time and energy by not having to haul out the hose as often, you will also be helping to conserve one of our planet’s most precious and valuable resources, water, as a result! Bonus: The worms living below the surface that provide valuable aeration for your soil, will thank you for all the extra moisture, too!

Now that you’ve heard all of the great reasons to use pallet mulch, what are you waiting for? Stop by our facility at 800 Held Dr. in Northampton (right behind the Redner’s) and pick up your first load of Nazareth Pallet mulch today! As an added bonus to our residential customers, mention this blog and receive an extra $1 off each yard of mulch purchased now through April 30th. We look forward to serving you!


Black Mulch

Colored Mulch - Is It Safe??

Chances are good that you have seen many properties landscaped with attractive red, brown, or black mulch. These are mulches made from chipped hardwood that has been through a dyeing process. While natural, uncolored mulch may look nice and brown right after it has been spread, it has a tendency to fade to a dull gray color, sometimes just mere months after it has been applied. When colored mulch is used instead, the color stays strong for a much longer period of time, continuing to accent the colors of your home and flowerbeds and giving everything a decorative “pop” that helps it to stand out from the rest - year after year.

But is it SAFE for your kids, pets, and plants?????

As society becomes more and more environmentally aware, people have increasingly wondered about the safety of colored mulch products.

Safety flooring at playgrounds is vital to help prevent injuries for the children who use the equipment. Imagine a child losing his/her grip on a jungle grip or trying to jump from a swing while it is high in the air! Sand is good at softening a fall, but playground mulch is significantly better at absorbing the impact.

Nazareth Pallet colored mulch is extremely safe and does not harm the environment in any way. Pallet mulch can significantly reduce injuries and allow homeowners to feel comfortable letting their children and pets play without worries. Pallet mulch has increased durability when compared to other products, and, with a lifespan of 20 years, does not require any high maintenance costs.

There are also many questions concerning the environmental safety of the dyes used in the coloring process. Colored mulches aren’t only safe for your children and pets, they are actually beneficial for your plants and garden. Mulch prevents the growth of weeds, which in turn helps to keep the plants in your yard and garden growing faster, looking healthier, and producing more flowers and vegetables. Our mulch colorants are vegetable based-dyes, which makes the mulch coloring harmless to plants, as well as children and pets who are walking in and playing around it.

In conclusion, colored pallet mulch is a great way to keep your property looking great, while maintaining the safety of your plants, pets, and family. We have multiple colors of mulch available at Nazareth Pallet for all of your landscaping needs. Call us today at 610.262.9799 for more information!


Reminder

Reminder - we will not be open on Saturday mornings for the remainder of the season. Our office hours for the rest of the year are M-F 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.