Carrot Pollination Time!
The carrots are now in full bloom! They were in fairly full bloom on July 7 before I (Chris) went away for two weeks and when I returned they were really in full bloom!
On July 7 the fly pollinator population was still low so I spent a few days brushing the flowers with a paintbrush to promote pollination. I was still hoping for the flies to emerge, but they sure were taking their time! I had a look back at images from 2017 and I had one from July 22 of the crop in bloom:
While I did an atrocious job of taking pictures of the full crop yesterday (but wait until you see the insect pictures below!), I did take a few videos to describe the state of the crop. This gives me a good comparison of where the crops are relative to each other. While the 2017 crop looked good at this time, we can see from my video yesterday that the carrots are in much better bloom this year, having gotten off to a good early start.
The earlier blooming is beneficial because it should result in an early maturation, reducing the risk of damage by rain later in the season. Here is the crop from July 21 of this year:
So after some initial panic (which prompted the umbel brushing) is looks like the flies are starting to emerge. I will get another look at the enclosure in 2 days so should have a good sense of the fly population then. It does seem like there is more diversity of pollinators in the tent this year than last year so I will take some pictures when I check things out on Tuesday. I could see several different flies, some wasps or syrphid flies, and some red soldier beetles inside the enclosure. But it still is not the volume of pollinators I had last year:
On the outdoor crop the pollinators are nothing short of miraculous. I could see a small swarm of insects hovering above the crop. Bees, hoverflies, yellow jackets, red soldier beetles, houseflies, and more – they can all be seen moving from flower to flower in pure delight. Here is a montage of some of the pollinators I spotted:
On a more sombre note I did spot a lone Queen Anne’s Lace plant in early bloom on the farm. I pulled it out and suspect the distance from the crop as well as the plethora of crop-local pollinators should ensure little to no cross pollination.
As a note, labour hours thus far are about 23 hours – which is higher than I would like since I have yet to do harvest and processing – but the are is twice as large as last year so more labour should be expected. Weed pressure was greater this year, and the brushing of umbels for pollination also accounted for several more hours.