Nearly every grower I know keeps records of some sort. Some have the bare minimum and others like to keep a lot more. My record sheet looks like this:
For each variety there will eventually be several years of information on each page. I start off with rooting dates (which is the date that cuttings are inserted) and proceed through the various potting on stages. I also record the stopping date, the bud visible date and the date when blooms are ready for exhibition. I found that the date when first colour shows was, in most cases, not recordable because buds are usually bagged at calyx break.
Typically I record the date that the first plant reaches each of these stages. As most of the information on the record sheet is a date I can then use this information to calculate the number of days between the various stages of development, allowing useful comparison year on year. This is where it can get interesting.
The completed record sheet below holds information for the years 1992 to 1996. As you will see, the 1992 data relates to growing in Chester and subsequent years in Aberdeen. The first two Aberdeen years show a struggle to get to grips with timing (although admittedly 1993 was a late start), but in the latter two years a degree of consistency begins to show.
The graph shown below provides takes the growth statistics for the medium intermediate cultivar 'Gingernut' over the last 17 years. It highlights the differences, and in some development stages similarities, between Chester and Aberdeen.
You might ask is this information really of any use? Well to me it is useful to be able to look back on previous years. This graph shows Gingernut as a remarkably consistent variety, hardly any variation during the years when I was growing in the Chester area. But notice the change since moving to Aberdeen.
Now that things have settled down, it basically takes one month longer to grow the plant to the point when the bud can be secured. The remaining stages of development are similar in terms of the time it takes. This is clearly why many growers in the North east of Scotland are rooting in December and stopping in March - they are putting in the extra month of growth in the pre-bud stage in order to ensure that flowering will still be during September when most of the shows take place.
So that's a brief look at my records, perhaps a bit over the top for some growers, and maybe not enough for others. Of course recording dates is only one aspect of record keeping, base dressing, lime application, liquid feeding, leaf counts are recorded as well, normally as a diary entry.
But getting back to the extra month to grow plants in NE Scotland. Why should this be so?
A brief examinantion of CLIMATE statistics is quite interesting - you can link directly to the Climate page from here.
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Last updated on 26 December, 2001