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Growing Clivia From Seed

The stigma is the tube that protrudes from the center of the flower with three short branches on the end. If pollination is successful, the ovary at the base of the petals will begin to swell and produce a berry. If pollination is not successful, the ovary will not grow and eventually fall off of the flower stem. It will take up to a year for the berry to ripen. Harvest the berries when they are ripe. Make sure the berry is in color and soft, like a peach, or crackles when you squeeze it. If it exhibits these traits, it is then ripe and ready for harvest. Peel open the berry with your fingernail to reveal the seeds inside. The seeds remind me of pearls. I always have a moist paper towel handy to wipe my hands when I do this as the berry juice can be a bit sticky. Sometimes the seeds have a thin coating of flesh on the outside that peels off easily.

The seeds should not be allowed to dry out, or they may not germinate. Some books suggest soaking the seeds in water overnight. I have not done this, and I do get good germination. If you have time, you may try soaking them. I do drop my seeds in a dilute detergent solution, swirl them around, and rinse them off. This removes any contaminants that may lead to disease. Plant the seeds immediately after rinsing. Here at Longwood, I germinate the seeds in boxes designed for tissue culture in a growth chamber. I realize not everyone has access to these resources. At home, I plant the seeds in pots in a peat-based media and cover the top of the pot with saran wrap. Plant the seed so that half of it is exposed. There is a brown/burnt-looking spot on the seeds. The root emerges from the opposite end of the brown spot. Germinate the seeds at 70 degrees F. Some people germinate the seeds in Tupperware with moist vermiculite lining the bottom of the container. They then plant the germinated seeds in pots. You should see a root emerge in about a month. Later a leaf will form. If you have planted the seed in a container, the root may lift the seed out of the soil. Drill a hole and stick it back it. The roots don’t seem to have a good sense of orientation and will grow every which way. They often need your help. Good Luck!

Weed control at harvest, combines are ideal vehicles for spreading weed seeds

JUNEAU – Weeds have always been a challenge on farms but this wet year they seem to be a challenge in many areas of the state. Herbicide-resistant weeds are an ever-growing issue, and prevention of the spread of those plants is important all year round, including at harvest time.

Weed control isn’t normally a priority during harvest, but combines are the ideal vehicle to spread weed seeds across a field or carry them to the next.

Dan Smith, UW-Madison NPM Southwest Regional Specialist has done six regional workshops on the topic of weed seeds and combines.

He says, “People are talking about a 40% loss in fields infested by weeds. At that point they need to make a decision whether to combine them or mow them off.”

The problem with combining, he points out, is that studies show that many weed seeds are mature at the time the field is ready to be combined.

He pointed to one study that indicated that 80% of the ragweed seed that was in a field was on the plant when the combine went through and spread it. Mowing the field before the weed seeds mature may be less costly than dealing with the weeds in the future.

Giant ragweed can produce more than 10,000 seeds per plant. The seed is persistent and it takes two years to deplete the seed bank.

Waterhemp also retains its seed until harvest and then spreads with the combine. Even a small percentage of waterhemp in a field will still present a problem.

Farmers attending the workshop at the Nell Farm at Juneau on Tuesday needed no convincing of the seriousness of weeds in the field at harvest time. Ryan Nell, host of the event, produced several large weeds found in his fields despite efforts to control weeds this year. Each of the weeds was loaded with tiny weed seeds that can be easily spread at the time of harvest.

Seeds are not only spread in the field during harvest but they can be carried into other fields when they build up in the combine.

Smith notes, “Smaller seeds accumulate in the front and larger seeds tend to make it back into the combine.”

He said the feeder house area on a combine is the most common place where weed seeds are found. The rock trap also gathers some. He said when researchers started the study regarding the importance of removing weed seeds from combines he never thought they would find so many weed seeds in every combine they looked at.

After running the combine empty for a self-cleanout, use a leaf blower or air compressor to remove material from exterior of the combine, focusing on the head, feederhouse, and axle and straw spreader at the rear of the machine.

He points out that a combine can hold almost 200 pounds of grain and material other than grain, even after the machine is allowed to run empty for several minutes. He recommends regularly cleaning storage bins, augurs and legs, transport vehicles, and farm equipment to prevent weed spread and cross-crop contamination. Destroy weed seeds that are separated from grain or left in the field to keep them from entering the soil seed bank.

Also taking part in the workshop was Joe Zimbric, recently hired Crops and Soils Agricultural Educator for Dodge and Fond du Lac counties.

He points out that lake associations have promoted the need to clean boats before moving them from one lake to another to prevent the spread of creatures and weeds. The same is true for combines moving from one field to another.

He also notes, “There is a need to communicate between counties about any herbicide resistance that farmers are seeing. Herbicide resistance is a problem that will not go away.”

Several farmers questioned the other means of spreading weed seeds from field to field including livestock manure and wildlife.

The University of Missouri has studied what weed species are being consumed and transported by ducks and geese. The study found 9% pigweeds, 30% smartweeds, and 46% corn plants emerged from seed spread by geese. Similarly ducks distributed 24% smartweeds; 38% barnyard grass and 30% pigweeds.

As for livestock manure, Smith said pig manure is hot enough to kill weed seeds but cow manure is not unless it has gone through true composting.

He points out that Wisconsin tends to have fewer problems with weeds because of having more diversity in the cropping system. Alfalfa in the rotation, for instance, breaks up the weed cycle.

The effect of dairy manure regarding seed distribution varies from farm to farm. In some cases farms are feeding existing weed seeds by adding more nutrients to the soil. In other cases they are distributing weed seeds in the manure.

This year the potential is there for having more weed seeds in livestock manure because there are more weeds in the fields.

Bob Bird of the Dodge County Land Conservation Department says many farmers have received permission to feed emergency crops raised on prevent plant land. Many of those crops have weeds in them. Even hay fields that suffered winter kill in many areas are more infested with weeds than usual because of the harsh winter and wet spring.