September 2013 Archives

We are over the peak harvest bump! Looking through the harvest data sheets its clear that we have harvested well over half of the heads that were in cg1 this year. Lydia and I are dissecting the heads that were used in the quantitative genetics experiment this year. Out of just over 200 we are more than halfway finished extracting the achenes, each head takes approximately half an hour. Prepping the new experimental plot is still in progress though most of the trees have been cleared out at this point. We've begun collecting little bluestem and Bouteloua seeds which we will broadcast in the new plot this fall. We've also discovered windy days are NOT the best days to do this, even a slight wind will carry away the little bluestem. We also completed the first demography recheck of the fall and there are many more to come.

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Hey everyone! Sorry it's been a while since our last post, we've just been so busy! A lot has been happening here in Kensington. Last week we finished demography (the first run though) with a visit to Krusemarks. Unfortunately the GPS would not cooperate and we couldn't actually map out the plants there. The walk there and back however, was quite exciting as we waded through stinging nettle and poison ivy and even decided to take a short cut through the corn. We also have begun collecting sideoats grama grass and little blue stem seeds that we'll plant in the new common garden. Ilse and I have been hard at work hauling trees from new common garden site (photos to come) and today (after 3 attempts) we got the tractor going and dragged a ton of trees out from the field and into massive burn piles.

We've also been harvesting Echinacea heads like crazy! Nearly all the heads in the qGen2 crossing experiment have been harvested and today we did our first dissections. I would also estimate we've harvested roughly half of all the other heads in the common garden. This stack of bags in Hjelm House just keeps growing.

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In other news, the last head in the common garden was done flowering today! Unfortunately its flowering period was prematurely cut short due to grasshopper herbivory. Apparently the immature florets and anthers looked pretty tasty. Grasshoppers have also taken a liking to the heads from the crossing experiment. Much to our dismay, we've returned to a couple heads that look like this:

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This is quite frustrating since many times the grasshoppers have chewed the bracts down so much that it's impossible to tell what color the head was painted and therefore some of the of crosses are going to lose a fair number of achenes. Alas, we've stopped de-bagging the heads in hopes of combating this issue.

Well I think that's all the news for now. Have a good rest of the week!

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This week has been full of demography and clearing a plot to plant seeds from the crossing experiment that took place this summer. We've been busy lopping, chain sawing, weed whipping and painting stumps with roundup in order to make way for the incoming prairie. Demography is almost done, just one site left to hit up for our first sweep through.

This afternoon while Stuart was busy trapping gophers Lydia and I spent the afternoon harvesting heads from the crossing experiment, we were on our second to last head when we encountered a curious situation. We were at the correct row and position and just could not find the plant that we had visited so many times this summer. We did however find a small hole in the ground near where an Echinacea plant should be. We pondered what to do, then Lydia finally exclaimed "I'm going to go-for-it"! Then she put her face to the ground, peered in and shouted "I see a mesh bag!!" Then in a flurry she reached down inside the hole and pulled out an already harvested Echinacea head....

...the gophers must have read the protocol because they seemed to know to leave 3 centimeters worth of stem from the base of the head.

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We are preparing to plant a new experiment this fall. We are cutting down ash trees (Fraxinus pennsylvanicus) in an abandoned agricultural field that was planted with Brome in the 1980s. We will plant Echinacea angustifolia seeds from our experimental crosses this summer. We will hand broadcast two native warm-season grasses: Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) and Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem). Keep up-to-date on progress on this experiment via twitter.

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Dwight, Lydia, & Ilse with tools of the day: chainsaw, loppers, brushcutter. Not shown: paintbrush.

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The first of the month started off with Phenology on only 4 plants...but now we are down to the last two! Head harvesting is underway and it looks like we will have plenty to harvest come Thursday. We are staying busy trying to keep up with repainting heads in the crossing experiment before they are ready to be harvested, but the grasshoppers are doing their best to sabotage our efforts, check out this guy caught in the act of eating off painted bracts!
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Yesterday Lydia and I mapped out a potential location for a new common garden where the progeny from the crosses from this summer will be planted this fall. This morning we are off to do demography and survey, as well as harvest the heads at Hegg lake. We will harvest all plants in the experimental plot there as well as the pallida plants Dayvis observed pollenators on and the nearest angustifolia plants to determine if any of the progeny from those heads are a product of hybridization...we may see some interesting results!

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