July 23: Phenology and Cross-pollinating

The days and weeks are starting to fly by as we get into the busy part of the summer. Nearing the end of July, it seems like we’re hovering right around the peak of the flowering season for Echinacea angustifolia. In addition to keeping up with the phenology for our flowers (roughly a couple thousand across our remnants alone!), we’re also making timely progress on independent projects and getting important work done on the q3 experiment.

We got off to a quick start this morning sending half the crew out to do phenology at a handful of sites while Danny and Amy continued their work assessing compatibility across remnant flowers and still a few others collected pollen at Staffanson for q3. While phenology is proving to be quite the time commitment right now, we’re slowly (and satisfyingly) starting to be able to check the “Done flowering” box for more and more of our flowers. The flowering season is tapering off much faster than I had expected!

A cross-pollinator's eye view of a well-organized team carrying out crosses in p1.

A cross-pollinator’s eye view of a well-organized team carrying out crosses in p1.

The bright and breezy afternoon had most of the team out in p1 doing pollen crosses for q3. Stuart debuted a new system for keeping us organized in the field as we share, swap, switch, and track down the right vials of sire pollen to be applied to the p1 dams. While the fits of wind that persisted for much of the afternoon were a nice way to cool down, it was not very much appreciated when the breeze swept away the valuable bits of pollen we were trying to apply to our flowers!

The day ended with a visit from some of the parents of the crew members and local science teachers (these two groups actually had quite a bit of overlap). These visits were timed excellently for our guests to appreciate the Echinacea in all their peak flowering glory.

Bagged and painted Echinacea ready to be cross-pollinated.

Bagged and painted Echinacea ready to be cross-pollinated.


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