Monday, January 28, 2013

A Hasty Rundown of April 2012.

Spring is full of life and/or death.

We rehearsed (Man of La Mancha at GCCC.)

We measured.

We admired.

We dyed.

We Celebrated.

We sprayed (so so very late.)

We drummed.

We measured.

We sprayed.

We rode.

We dug.

We spot-tilled.

 We repaired.

We had repaired.

We admired.

We watered.

We repaired.

We diagnosed.

 We reconfigured.

We had repaired.

We assessed. (Some nut in a white 2010 GM pickup (he left a chunk behind) drove through the lot at GCFE running into (and over) equipment.Among the destruction, my flex header (totaled.)

We custom planted.

 We sprayed.

We performed.

We replaced.

We prepared.

We planted.

 We measured.

We assessed (see below.)

We custom planted some more (and had to abandon the 8100 overnight with a clogged fuel filter.)

So what happened with the wheat? If you noticed, we had some pretty nice rains in April. Doesn't that mean everything would be hunky-dory? Well... not quite. Remember that we are in the middle of a terrible drought, meaning our subsoil moisture is effectively non existent (which among other things, means shallow root systems, as roots grow to moisture.) So the wheat is relying entirely on in-season rains.  So we had a nice big rain in March followed by a week of relatively warm weather (with no rain.) At the time, this was very good (the warm part, not the no rain part,) because it allowed the wheat to speed up its growth, and in fact put it somewhat ahead of schedule. Again, this is a good thing. 

Now to where things start to fall apart. The temperature on April 1 hit 96.3 degrees. Wheat is a C3 plant, which means it has a passive approach to supplying the CO2 for photosynthesis.  This is very effective at moderate temperatures, which is why wheat will always grow best with high temperatures in the roughly 65 to 85 range.  When the temperature becomes too high (say above 90 to 95ish) the rate of the chemical reaction which is photosynthesis increases beyond the ability of the plant to supply that reaction with the necessary CO2. The missing CO2 is then replaced with oxygen (much more prevalent in the atmosphere.) This is called photo-respiration and this reaction 1. spits out CO2 instead of O2 and 2. is a net energy loss for the plant. So while wheat grows really nicely below 90 degrees, it pretty much stops growing above 90 degrees, and above 95, is going backwards in a hurry, losing energy AND water at a very rapid rate.  

All that to say that the 96.3 degree day on April 1st was bad. Luckily it was only one day and it was followed by a nice rain on the 2nd/3rd.  
So things settled down and looked pretty good again for the first couple of weeks of April, but then we had a two week stretch with no rain, which I think we could have survived quite well except that on April 24th the temperature hit 97.9 degrees and on April 25th it hit 96.6. Two days in a row following two weeks without rain was simply too much for the drier areas of the dryland wheat to take. And that's how, even with pretty regular, pretty sizable rains, we ended up with some big ol' brown spots in the wheat:

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