Friday, July 13, 2012

Ice chunks falling from the sky...

What a night.  Thunder and lighting to just before dawn, with a few showers thrown in for good measure, then just when we thought the worst of the storm had passed us by, chunky hailstones the size of chickpeas dropped just when it became light enough to see.  Because we rarely experience electrical storms for such a long time, this weather is more like Minnesota than the Northwest corner of Washington State .  (The elements are still rumbling out there, so this posting will be quick.  I've already lost my satellite internet once today and had to shut the computers down.)

Lilies whose flowers were already opened suffered bruising, but because we are somewhat late for bloom this spring, the ones still in tight bud have a chance to open normally.
Before the storm.
24 hours later, 2 hours after hail storm
The lily on the right was photographed yesterday and today the same stem (shown below) is covered in brown spots.  The upper right flower just opening in the top photo is the same one shown front and center in the next photo down.  Damage would not have been so fast nor dramatic had the hail stones been a bit smaller.  Note that the lower facing blossoms were not damaged and should continue to look nice.  (In our commercial propagation fields, we had already begun removing the unopened flower buds to encourage the bulbs to grow larger for our fall harvest, so we have no reason to worry about October's crop.)

IMPORTANT:  Spray a good copper based fungicide ASAP after any moisture on the flowers and stems has dried - the same as you would for roses.  With tiny hailstones, you might not notice damage right away, but the bruises could set the stage for fungus later on.  Look for "wet-looking" darker colored spots on the leaves and flowers now; later if Botrytis begins, those spots will turn brown and/or have clear centers.  
 [update 7.14.12]
48 hours later - notice how the "older" spots have turned brown?  The second bout of hail several hours later caused the clear, moist areas on the petals, but they are expected to also begin turning brown with a day or so. 

Simply remove any open flowers that were damaged (or shredded) by hail, leaving unopened buds intact and spray the buds, leaves and surrounding soil with a good fungicide ASAP.  The underground bulbs will not be damaged and will continue to grow larger for next summer's bloom if the leaves are left on the stems.  

Buds that were tightly closed during the storm should open normally but we still recommend spraying a copper-based fungicide as a precaution.  Baking soda solutions (1T per gallon of water) can be a good preventative, but its need to be applied more frequently.  Farm stores are a good place to find copper products, "big box" lumber stores -  in my opinion are not so good - they are more geared to "death and destruction" chemicals.


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