You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  JudyB on Thu Jun 05, 2014 12:28 pm

I cannot speak for Gary, but I can tell you that my secret weapon in the cold house I have are heat mats. Kept just at or above freezing (depending on the tree). I have two, so have a hardy side and a tender side... Just a thought.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Gary Swiech on Thu Jun 05, 2014 1:14 pm

I try and keep it at 28ºF.or -2.2C. One thing I should mention, and thanks for your comment Judy, I may go back to heating mats for trees like Trident maple and Chinese elm which have fleshy
root systems that can absorb too much water and explode or be damaged when they freeze.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Vance Wood on Thu Jun 05, 2014 1:35 pm

JudyB wrote:
Vance Wood wrote:
It's OK to err on the side of safty but it is limiting.  If you build a shelter as you have described you are limited to a specific number of trees more or less.

On the contrary... It's actually very freeing.
Free from worry that my trees will die.  Free from accumulating too much material to do work at the level that I aspire to for my trees.  
I have space for a few more trees than I have now, and I overwinter 40 in that house.  I only have 3 trees currently I trust outside in the winter, and that's enough.  

Well yes there is that, but one of our club's senior members lost a lot of trees from a shelter because some critter got in there and made it home; and was not noticed till it was too late to reverse the damage.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  coh on Thu Jun 05, 2014 2:52 pm

There are risks with every over-wintering method. I've had critters get into my barn shelter and damage trees despite using traps, baits, mothballs...next year I'm going to make the shelter more secure in an attempt to keep the critters out. But...I've also had severe damage to trees that I've buried in the ground under mulch/snow...despite what people might think, voles (and maybe field mice, but definitely voles) are active during the winter and they also use deep snowcover as protection.

I lost 2 trees last winter because they dried out too much. Lesson learned there. If you have trees in a shelter packed tightly and some are hard to reach, under-watering is a definite possibility.

As for temperatures...if you can keep your shelter in the 27/28 F range, I don't see why heat mats would be necessary, even for tridents? I kept my trident (and Chinese elm) under those conditions and during some of the more severe cold spells this winter, the temperature in my shelter got down to 25 or so. No problems. I'm pretty sure Bill Valavanis keeps all his hardy trees in his garage, heated to 27/28 with no heat mats. Along those lines, I have a hard time believing exposure to 27/28 for a few days in the fall would lead to the loss of any zone 5/6 tree. Perhaps some of the losses were trees that were already weakened from other causes? Most of my hardy trees are generally left out late enough in the fall to experience temperatures down to the low/mid 20s before they go into storage. I wouldn't leave them out if the forecast was low 20s continuously for several days, but a couple of nights like that shouldn't cause problems?

Also, one other observation...I ran out of room in my shelters this winter and had to leave a few plants in my barn, without any extra protection. Those trees, mostly larger specimens in nursery pots and soil, were exposed to fairly long periods with temperatures as low as 10 deg F. None of these suffered any damage, at least none that is apparent yet. Among these trees were some Japanese maples, yew, witch hazel. I wouldn't try that with a trident, and didn't want to with the Japanese maples but had no place else for them.

I guess this is all just a long-winded way of saying, it may not have been just the cold (and duration of cold) this winter...might have been other factors at work.

Chris

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  kevin stoeveken on Thu Jun 05, 2014 6:00 pm

coh wrote:...despite what people might think, voles (and maybe field mice, but definitely voles) are active during the winter and they also use deep snowcover as protection.
Chris
the only evidence folks need is the trails they leave behind when the snow melts...

my yard looked like drunk alien crop circles...

after reading all this i feel lucky that i only lost a couple out of 15 or so...
and one i am still (probably foolishly) holding out hope for...
even had a dream about that one last nite... weird.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Gary Swiech on Thu Jun 05, 2014 8:28 pm

I get Voles too. The female gives birth 4 times a year and has X amount of young. They even mate under the snow!

They are hard to get rid of and the population varies from year to year.

One year they ate the bark 18" up the side of a 16" diameter American Hornbeam I had growing on my property and it died the following July after budding out weak. Fortunately I live near the University
of Wisconsin, Stevens Point and a sculpture teacher came by and asked if he could have the root system to sculpt, so he dug it out. It would have made a wonderful bonsai stand. Nice hard white wood that could
be stained sealed and polished.


Last edited by Gary Swiech on Fri Jun 06, 2014 5:16 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Improper statement)

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  coh on Thu Jun 05, 2014 9:22 pm

One thing I will not do is place poison bait outside - whether it is protected in a plastic container or not. The problem with doing that is the voles (or whatever) eat the bait, get sick, and then can be eaten by other predators as they're dying or after. In either case the poison moves up the food chain into raptors, foxes, etc. This is especially a problem with the "modern" poisons such as the d-con stuff that is widely available at home depot, lowes, etc. I heard the other day that the stuff was going to be banned in the U.S...there have been rumors of that for a while now.

For trees that I have planted in the ground, I wrap the lower part of the trunks with plastic mesh that is designed to deter rodents. So far it has worked. It's time consuming but I believe the trade off is worth it. Others may have different views on that.

I do use the poison bait inside my barn. I realize that poisoned rodents may still get out into the food chain, but I think it's less likely since the ones that show up in there probably spend most of their time inside the barn. At least I hope so.

Chris

coh
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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  JimLewis on Thu Jun 05, 2014 9:31 pm

For trees that I have planted in the ground, I wrap the lower part of the trunks with plastic mesh that is designed to deter rodents. So far it has worked. It's time consuming but I believe the trade off is worth it. Others may have different views on that.

Chicken wire works, too. Our local park has to wrap all of its trees' lower trunks in chicken wire because of beaver in the Pacolet River.

I do use the poison bait inside my barn. I realize that poisoned rodents may still get out into the food chain, but I think it's less likely since the ones that show up in there probably spend most of their time inside the barn. At least I hope so.

I find that three barn cats work just fine. Our rodent population is just about zero.


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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  coh on Thu Jun 05, 2014 9:52 pm

I don't know if chicken wire comes in a fine enough mesh to prevent vole/mouse damage? But it would work against larger critters like rabbits, ground hogs, etc.

Cats bring their own set of problems. They are major predators of songbirds.

I wish we had more/larger snakes, such as rat snakes...but this far north pretty much all we get are garter snakes, and voles are a little large for most of them.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Gary Swiech on Thu Jun 05, 2014 10:53 pm

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  coh on Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:20 pm

http://www.audubonmagazine.org/articles/conservation/poisons-used-kill-rodents-have-safer-alternatives

I won't say anything else on the subject...the information is out there for all to see.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Gary Swiech on Fri Jun 06, 2014 5:12 pm

Coh,

Thanks for the link. It's important and the poisoning of secondary animals is an important issue to consider.

That's why I said "I learned a partial solution from a professional pest remover." I forgot to mention that the use of poison bait should be tempered or completely eliminated in areas where there is a high probability
of secondary contamination. Also any remains of dead rodents need to be collected and properly disposed of, burial is the best.

I also agree it is not the most efficient method of eliminating these rodents. Peanut butter and a proper trap can be very effective for mice. I hope your not picturing my home and grounds covered in poison traps, it isn't.

As a member of the Audubon Society myself I was wrong in recommending poison as a first line of defense and I admit I was wrong in putting that in print on this forum without qualifying my statement.

Although the use of poison bait is controversial, it can be safe if used safely around the house if properly used and the rodents are disposed of by burying them as opposed to throwing them in the trash etc.

In areas of high concentrations of secondary predators, it should not be used at all.

If possible, trapping is the best way of eliminating vermin.
For instance, we have a very high population of chipmunks here in Central WI. My method of elimination is a 5 gallon bucket of water filled 3/4 with water with sunflower seed floating on top, located
off my deck. I catch between 10-20 chipmunks per growing season in this manner. They are promptly buried in a section of my property, and it is safe.

As I mentioned before, voles are very difficult to eliminate given their high populations in certain years, and physical means are the best method to protect trees and shrubs during the Winter.

That said, I am going back and to edit the use of poison in outdoor areas because I don't want others to use it indiscriminately, without proper knowledge of their particular environment and ecosystem.

Again, thanks for the link. We should not use these products in areas where secondary contamination can occur.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  JudyB on Fri Jun 06, 2014 8:05 pm

coh wrote:
As for temperatures...if you can keep your shelter in the 27/28 F range, I don't see why heat mats would be necessary, even for tridents? I kept my trident (and Chinese elm) under those conditions and during some of the more severe cold spells this winter, the temperature in my shelter got down to 25 or so. No problems. I'm pretty sure Bill Valavanis keeps all his hardy trees in his garage, heated to 27/28 with no heat mats.
I use them as it's more energy efficient than air heating in my greenhouse, and doesn't lower the humidity as much as heating the air can do. I do have a heater in there, but am able to keep it pretty low with the heat mats in play. I also have a few trees that are out of my zone, that I keep on the warm zone heat mat, and am able to keep them happy as well. I have not had any issues, and like this system.

@Vance, if you have a setup that is accessible enough, and you check it daily and it's a well built facility, there are no pest problems to speak of. I have enough room to pull trees out and work on them easily in there, so it's also a bonus to be able to view the trees in the winter in their nekkid state, which I do so enjoy.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Gary Swiech on Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:32 pm

As for temperatures...if you can keep your shelter in the 27/28 F range, I don't see why heat mats would be necessary, even for tridents? I kept my trident (and Chinese elm) under those conditions and during some of the more severe cold spells this winter, the temperature in my shelter got down to 25 or so. No problems. I'm pretty sure Bill Valavanis keeps all his hardy trees in his garage, heated to 27/28 with no heat mats.


I've known Bill for 30 some years. I know his winter set-up. You have to realize that being in Zone 6, in Rochester is a lot different than being in Zone 4 without a lake buffering the temps, not to mention the snow cover you guys get. I remember
a couple of years ago when Bill V. was shuffling his bonsai in and out of that garage scared stiff he'd lose his plants. He's lost the tops on J. maples in the past. It happens when it gets too cold.

The house may be at 28ºF but temps like we experienced this year here in WI, 30 days in a row of sub-zero without a let up and lows of -25º of -30ºF is a lot different.

Judy,
What type of heating mats do you use? I have propagation mats but they usually heat to about 20 degrees above the ambient temperature. Can you explain what type of mats and how you configure them please? I'm interested and want to try it..

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  JudyB on Fri Jun 06, 2014 11:14 pm

Gary, Here are some links to the mats I use. The trick is getting the right thermostats, that go down low enough. They are a bit pricy, but well worth it. I have a 10' mat and an 8' mat so I can differentiate for different trees. There is also a link to a thread about my greenhouse should you want to take a look at the overall setup, there are some pics in there.

Not only do I have peace of mind, but I likely get an extra month of root growth with my setup than if I didn't have heat mats.

http://bonsainut.com/forums/showthread.php?10624-My-Cold-(Green)-House

thermostat 30- 110F - shure-stat
http://www.littlegreenhouse.com/acce...controls.shtml

thermostat 68-110F - hydrofarm
http://www.charleysgreenhouse.com/80...at--E3443-.htm

humidifier - crane cool mist
http://www.amazon.com/Crane-Gallon-C...3140482&sr=8-1

small heat mat (super durable, but expensive, that's why I didn't get this for my larger ones..)
http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/p...t-mats-seeding

large heat mats - redi-heat
http://www.growerssupply.com/farm/su...ation;pg106148

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  coh on Sat Jun 07, 2014 5:48 am

Gary Swiech wrote:
As for temperatures...if you can keep your shelter in the 27/28 F range, I don't see why heat mats would be necessary, even for tridents? I kept my trident (and Chinese elm) under those conditions and during some of the more severe cold spells this winter, the temperature in my shelter got down to 25 or so. No problems. I'm pretty sure Bill Valavanis keeps all his hardy trees in his garage, heated to 27/28 with no heat mats.


I've known Bill for 30 some years. I know his winter set-up. You have to realize that being in Zone 6, in Rochester is a lot different than being in Zone 4 without a lake buffering the temps, not to mention the snow cover you guys get. I remember
a couple of years ago when Bill V. was shuffling his bonsai in and out of that garage scared stiff he'd lose his plants. He's lost the tops on J. maples in the past. It happens when it gets too cold.

The house may be at 28ºF but temps like we experienced this year here in WI, 30 days in a row of sub-zero without a let up and lows of -25º of -30ºF is a lot different.    
I don't understand your point. 28 F in the house is 28 F in the house, whether it's in Rochester NY or Rochester MN. The only real difference I can see is in the length of the winter, which is definitely longer in Minnesota.

Now for trees outside, NY is completely different from Minnesota, no argument on that. Even in this ridiculous winter, the lowest temperature I recorded outdoors was -10 F, and we rarely have prolonged stretches with temperatures below 0. But if it's a climate controlled indoor location, I don't see the difference...

The big problem a couple of years ago was that we had an incredibly warm winter, and all the trees started growing very early. Then we had some pretty bad freezes later on. I had new growth on outdoor trees get killed back twice that spring.

Chris

coh
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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Gary Swiech on Sat Jun 07, 2014 2:26 pm

Thanks Judy,

I don't have my password for Bonsai Nut. I had a crash of a hard drive on my iMac so I'm building them up again. i may have to register with a new name and password.
I'll look at the rest of the stuff and get back to you.

Thanks for the links. I will investigate.

I don't understand your point. 28 F in the house is 28 F in the house, whether it's in Rochester NY or Rochester MN. The only real difference I can see is in the length of the winter, which is definitely longer in Minnesota.

I live in Wisconsin, not MN.

There is a difference if you understand that cold air goes to warm air. When it says 28ºF on a thermostat it may well be colder than that. Especially when it very cold for a long extended amount of time.
As I mentioned before, it's the concept of the air being at 28ºF but the solid objects within may be at a much lower temperature. It's like sitting in your living room at 72ºF with outside temperatures at -30ºF, although the air and
the thermostat reads 72º inside the cold from outdoors can cool objects inside to a lower temperature. I don't know the dynamic physics involved, but it happens. You as a physical object feel colder than 72º.


Last edited by Gary Swiech on Sat Jun 07, 2014 2:28 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Made a mistake.)

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  coh on Sat Jun 07, 2014 2:56 pm

Gary Swiech wrote:

When it says 28ºF on a thermostat it may well be colder than that. Especially when it very cold for a long extended amount of time.
As I mentioned before, it's the concept of the air being at 28ºF but the solid objects within may be at a much lower temperature. It's like sitting in your living room at 72ºF with outside temperatures at -30ºF, although the air and
the thermostat reads 72º inside the cold from outdoors can cool objects inside to a lower temperature. I don't know the dynamic physics involved, but it happens. You as a physical object feel colder than 72º.

"Feeling colder" is not the same as being colder. You might feel colder because the humidity is lower, or because the air is moving...but that doesn't mean the air is any colder. Remember, plants don't have nervous systems and are not warm blooded. The plant/container will cool down to whatever the temperature of the environment is.

However...there will always be a gradient and thus flow of heat. If it's -30 outside and your thermometer in the center of your storage area reads 28, then obviously the walls and probably floor will be colder. That's why you need a heater, heat is continuously lost to the surroundings. But the air surrounding your plants near your thermometer is still 28. If you have them down on a concrete floor or crowded up against the sides of the shelter, then they may well be exposed to colder temperatures and you would certainly need to account for that (perhaps using heat mats). But the ones in the center should still be at 28.

So, were the plants that were lost located in the colder parts of the shelter? That would make sense, and you're definitely right that at -30 F, the walls of your shelter would be much colder than mine.

coh
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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Gary Swiech on Sat Jun 07, 2014 4:09 pm

All my Shimpaku were on the floor and they really took a hit, but the others are located 4 feet off the concrete. They took a hit too. It was definitely colder down below. Thing is, I've always put the Shimpaku on the floor and
never had a problem with them. I keep the humidity up by spraying water in the hut every day .

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  coh on Sat Jun 07, 2014 4:53 pm

Gary,

Again, sorry that you lost trees.

I made some statements that were somewhat generalized and wanted to clarify and see if we can apply what we've learned this winter going forward.

You are correct in your assertion about it being different in Wisconsin (or Minnesota) than NY. Your area experiences much colder temperatures for much longer periods than we do. Thus, it stands to reason that even if you heat the interior of your shelter to the same temperature as I do, the outer edges (walls, floor) will be colder than in my shelter. This effect will be relatively more pronounced in a smaller shelter where more of the trees by necessity are in the colder zones. A large greenhouse or garage (like Bill uses), though it would cost far more to heat, would undoubtedly provide a more stable/controllable environment than a small 10x10 mud room.

What I would do if I was in your situation - I'd have multiple min/max thermometers in my shelter - some in the center, others in the colder areas. Do you know exactly how cold it got in your shelter? That would be useful to know. It might turn out that it was 28 in the center and 10 right along the wall. In that case, I'd probably increase the heat setting to 32 or 34 and use a small fan (if you don't, you might consider adding one) to try and stabilize the temperatures, particularly during the coldest stretches. Spread that warm air around a bit.

I'd be interested in other thoughts on this. In the last few years in the eastern U.S., we've had one of the warmest winters ever and now one of the coldest in memory. Whether you believe in global warming, climate change, whatever - we do seem to be in a period of extremes, so we could have another winter like this to deal with in the near future.

Chris

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put a fan in your winter shelters to even out temperatures.

Post  Leo Schordje on Sat Jun 07, 2014 5:16 pm

Toward the issue of colder zones in winter storage shelters. I keep a fan running, 24 hrs a day in my unheated well house. It keeps the air moving, a grass planting will have its leaves swaying no matter where you put it in my well house. No dead zones. My survival rate for trees I put into the well house was nearly 100%, unfortunately my urge to acquire more trees outstripped my shelter capacity.  Most of my losses were trees sheltered under my benches outdoors.

The fan - air movement - helps keep roots healthy, and helps keep fungus and molds under control. Air moving over the soil surface to some degree gets down into the soil, especially because bonsai mixes are fairly open mixes.

I use cheap fans, usually less than $15 each, Wal-Mart or Lows or Menard's, normally a 7 inch or 9 inch diameter fan is plenty, I direct the air toward a wall, to deflect the main part of the breeze. It spreads out and the end result is gentle air movement through out the entire room. Normally these cheap fans only last 2 or 3 years, so when you see them on sale at the end of summer, stock up on a couple extras, because you won't be able to find inexpensive fans in January should one burn out then.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Gary Swiech on Sun Jun 08, 2014 4:55 pm

I use one Min-Max thermometer that sits in the middle of the shelter. I do use a fan for air circulation and a space heater to keep temps around 28ºF.

Since warm air rises and cold air sinks, my contention has always been that along with the fan, and heater the circulation should be fairly consistent.

I'm rethinking the shelter these last weeks and may put heat mats on the floor, which in principle could work better since the warm air will be rising all the time, sort of like a
radiant heated home. If you have ever been in a radiant heated home in the Winter it's usually too warm.

I don't know yet. I'm still assessing the Cold room for modifications to prevent this from happening again.

Here's a picture of my best Zelkova's damage, before and after.

Before-2012



This spring with top die-back Spring 2014


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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Gary Swiech on Sun Jun 08, 2014 5:03 pm

JudyB,

I still can't view your images on BonsaiNut even though I'm logged in. It says I don't have the privileges. I don't know why.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  JimLewis on Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:45 pm

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Gary Swiech on Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:57 pm

I just checked my cookies and BonsaiNut didn't set a cookie.

I don't except cookies from third parties. I had to register again, with a different name, same email addy. I wonder if there's an approval process the the Moderators or something.
I'm in no hurry, or hurry and go nowhere. I haven't been to that site for quite a while. Plus a bout 6 months ago I had a hard drive crash and had it replaced. I didn't include web browser cookies
to be transferred from my backup.

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