We received our second substantial monsoon storm over the weekend, and it certainly wreaked havoc on a few of our plants. Wind was the culprit again causing root lodging on a few of the plants in the trial garden. Here is a photo of a hemp plant that was toppled over by aggressive monsoon winds:
Root lodging typically occurs when strong winds from one direction pull the roots on one side of the plant and push roots further into the soil on the other side. Commonly seen in corn crops, root lodging has the potential to reduce ear production and overall yield. Below is a photograph of the hemp plant's lodged roots. While this plant would probably survive if left be, its exposed root system is an open invitation to unwanted guests.
Contribution biotic factors to root lodging include environmental conditions, insect damage, and herbicide injury. Plant product selection is the best solution to avoiding these seemingly unavoidable biotic factors. Thus, the need to cultivate proven hemp strains for the Southwest becomes evident.
Developing these plants genetics isn't easy though-- it takes many seasons to trial plants that are proven to thrive. Take our Quercus fusiformis 'Joan Lionetti' for example:
The seed for this Live Oak was sourced from the Edwards Plateau area of Central Texas. We sourced 5000 seeds that were germinated in this trial. Later we bumped a handful of our favorites for safe keeping, watched them grow, selected again, and planted those in ground. We watched those grow then selected again out of the few remaining plants. In that time, our farm experienced extreme heat and snow, winds, animals, pests, disease, and everything else imaginable. Fourteen years later, we have our Joan Lionetti Live Oak mother. It wasn't easy, but it was definitely worth it. This is a beautiful tree that is proven to thrive throughout the Southwest.
While developing an annual crop (such as hemp) probably won't take as long as it took to develop Joan Lionetti, the end definitely justifies the means and we are prepared for such an endeavor. Bring on the storms!