I've been searching around for a Paul Brown probe -- I will probably resort to the shovel method.
Just to sum up, unresolved problems are:
- Nutrient-deficient patch has not showed signs of improvement; broadcast fertilizer may take more time to have affect, or it may be too late in the season
- Drainage may be insufficient, and waterings may be too frequent -- unknown soil moisture depth
- Tons of aphids, as many as 10 per plant. May be too late in season to worry about this. Plants are too thick to walk through, which prevents applying pesticide by hand. At least there are no signs of viruses yet.
- And of course the rows are too damn far apart.
With that out of the way, I realize that I am very lucky to present to you: awns!
Each awn is attached to one grain. These are the first signs of the grain head, and they are the whisker-like parts of the grain that will later on thresh away as part of the chaff. I couldn't be more psyched to see these, especially given the patchy-ass nature of the field in general.
You might imagine that the plants with awns are in the lushest, most well-fertilized part of the field. You'd be right. There are just a few plants with awns peaking out. However, most plants in the lush plot have at least a flag leaf:
The flag leaf is the terminal leaf of the shoot. That is, the plant's developmental program just stops with this leaf -- there will be no more leaves that emerge from the main shoot. The tillers (if they do not abort) will each produce their own flag leaf.
When the flag leaf is young, it looks like every other emerging leaf, but as it matures, you can notice that there is no plant tissue extending from the place where the leaf attaches to the stem. See in the photo above, the leaf's axil forms a flat platform with a small divot. Typically, another leaf would be extending from this spot. But instead, the grain head will eventually emerge from this spot on the flag leaf, beginning with the awns.
Additionally, Conlon seems to have a purple color surrounding the flag leaf axil. I didn't know to expect this.
So where does that put us? There have been 916.5 Growth Degree Days
(GDD) since emergence. (see earlier posts for explanation of how this is calculated)
Most of the well-fed plants are at the flag leaf stage, where Merit was in Idaho at 965 GDD
. My Conlon is still slightly ahead of Merit's schedule, just as it has been since the early weeks. Amazing how programmatic plant development can be.
A few plants, as noted, have emerging awns, which took Merit 1114.5 GDD
Curiously, the Scottish bere has fallen behind. Even though it kept pace with its neighbor Conlon during early development, it is now just beginning the jointing stage, putting it a few weeks behind.
The U Idaho blog warns against insufficient water during this stage of growth. Fortunately, I am growing during the winter, so I don't need to worry as much about water availability. For example, the high today was 57F, and the highest these plants have seen so far is about 67F. I would feel much safer with a soil moisture depth measurement though...