Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dave Phillips vs Cathy's Crocus

Early this past week a friend told me about Dave Phillips being on Canada AM that morning.  Dave Phillips was expressing his opinion that winter may not be over yet in Ontario.  In fact, Dave has been making the rounds with other media outlets this week saying the same thing.  I have respect Dave, the senior climatologist with Environment Canada.  I have heard him speak.  He can be quite funny and has a healthy sense of humour with regard to his track record of failed forecasts.  Dave is smart and uses past history as his guide to the future.  Historically, there has never been a year without snowfall after March 11.  Does this fact help us farmers make decisions?  Not really.  We have all seen snow in April, sometimes May and frost in June.  Do these facts keep us from planting corn in April?  You be the judge.

Nature doesn't listen to Dave Phillips or any other media reports on TV and radio.  Spring is busting out all over the place.  Cathy's crocus in the middle of our yard are telling us spring is here and mostly here to stay.  The same crocus did not flower last year until May.  An expensive spice is derived from crocus flowers.  Do you know what it is?  See answer below.

The ground is warm and coming into shape quickly.  The best seed bed conditions are usually found during the first good dry spell.    It is definitely time to plant alfalfa and spring cereals.  If snow does arrive, it will melt and disappear in a blink of the eye.

The wheat crop has broken dormancy.  Should we apply some nitrogen to take advantage of the early growth?  It is very tempting.  The crop has come to life, so it will soon need a boost.  Right? Research has proven that if your stand is weak and thin, 30 lbs of N early will give it a boost.  Most of the wheat in this area looks very good, so an early trip would be a waste of money.  No need to be in a hurry.  Wheat responds to temperature, it will start to grow anytime the temperature is above zero.  Wheat is also daylight sensitive.  This means an early start will not advance the crop as fast as we think.  Wheat does not need nitrogen in March and there is a risk to losing early applied N if it starts raining.

The Weather Network is calling for normal temperature and precipitation going forward.  That might mean a little snow, a little rain, a little sun.  In other words, a typical April.  Sounds like they agree with Dave.  My money is on the crocus.

** Answer to crocus question.  The spice is saffron.  Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world because it is made from the stigmas in the crocus flower head.  These must be hand picked.  Before you rush out and pick the stigmas from Cathy's crocus you need to know that saffrom can only be made from the saffron crocus.  The saffron crocus flowers in the fall, not the spring. 

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