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Males, Mites, and Aphids

The workload for these last two weeks has steadily increased. The pests have gradually been increasing in the fields and I have begun to see more aphids and a few two-spotted spider mites. However, since the temperature hasn’t been as high as it usually is by this time of year, there are still not too many problems with pests. We are expecting temperatures to increase in July and two-spotted spider mites to become more of an issue then.

Look Closely to See a Two-Spotted Spider Mite!

During week three, I found an abundance of aphids in one section of a field. Ultor, an aphicide, was sprayed on just those twelve rows which terminated the aphid population.

Aphids

The newest addition to our daily schedule is roguing. Roguing is scouting for male plants. The fields we are roguing had high seed percentages per barrel this past fall. Therefore, it is our job to find them, mark them, and cut them down. Later in the season, other workers will come in and remove the hills that we’ve marked to ensure that the males do not grow back next year. It is usually very obvious to spot the male plants because they have visibly large pollen sacs attached to the bines, as pictured below. However, if the plant hasn’t fully expressed itself yet, it can be very difficult to spot male plants which means very thorough checks must be made to ensure none are missed. My colleague and I scout every other row of a field to check for males. If a field is abundant in males, it can take us around six hours to complete a ninety row field. Therefore, we break up the time spent scouting over a few days. There are some bines that can also be hermaphroditic, due to an environmental stress that the bine may be under. We have to severe these bines as well to ensure that pollination does not occur.

Male BinesĀ 

Hermaphroditic Bine

Another task which I have been assigned with is taking soil measurement readings in two fields. My supervisor manages the irrigation in these fields. The water conductivity of the soil is highly variable in these two fields, which means that soil moisture must be closely tracked to ensure that the bines aren’t receiving too much water to cause leaching, and so that they don’t dry out. My job is to take three readings in each of the eight zones so that I can develop a graph that shows the soil moisture for each zone in the field. My supervisor then makes decisions on the length of time the irrigation will run and how many times a day these fields will be irrigated.

To finalize this post, there are hops growing now! Below you can see baby cones developing on Simcoe and larger cones that have started growing on Palisade. If you can’t tell by the picture below, I am absolutely loving working with the hops!

Baby Simcoe cones

Palisade Cones

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