Friday, March 8, 2013

Reclining Wheat

Might it be Sayonara, Sonora?

The first seeds we broadcast on November 29th  were Sonora, a soft white winter wheat, provided by Anson Mills of South Carolina. 


 The emerging plants, along with the plots of Red Fife and Glenn, seemed to prosper, right up through January 22nd.



On that day, most plants were more than a foot in height, had 3 full leaves and showed more than half of the 4th leaf emerging.

Three weeks later, large swaths of the Sonora had collapsed.


The condition seemed to get worse over the next two weeks.

with some portions of the Red Fife also lying down on the job.

Red Fife 2/17/13
We may never be able to positively determine the cause.    Damage from harsh weather was one thought, but didn’t account for the way the Sonora was singled out.  Frolicking or restless deer had a vote or two.

Lodging was considered, but that kind of bowing down usually takes places when seed heads are well developed.

 And of course crop circles would have been a candidate, but there were no discernible patterns.  Low moisture levels, exacerbated by dense and shallow planting has come out as a possibility.  Or perhaps the early February nights were too cold for Sonora?

There is hope that some of the downed wheat will recover.  So far, our plantings of Spelt do not have this problem, and much of the Glenn is standing up.   Several rows of newer cultivars in our test plot seem to be doing well.

Sonora 2nd Planting
Unfortunately, our second planting of Sonora has areas that are leaning over.   On a positive note, though, this plot was planted two weeks after the first Sonora.  The inflorescence or embryonic seed head is just beginning its upward journey, starting at ground level, near the crown.

Sonora 2nd Planting Inflorescence Just Starting

 This jointing phase -- also known as stem elongation -- is when the plants gain most of their height.  Perhaps this phase will increase the likelihood that Sonora #2 will stand up straight, and deliver the goods.
  We’ll just have to wait and see what we can make of it all, as we maneuver this steep learning curve.

As my grandfather would say when visitors went overboard in describing their problems:  "Aye, but worse things happen at sea."

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