digging drying and storing daffs for fall planting
Well I set up trades with a few members for trading daffs and so far 2 have had problems with what they dug, dried, stored, and sent me. I received in one trade and the other is on its way. I just got an email that said, "I sent out the bulbs Friday morning. I received your bulbs Friday too. I have to say your bulbs are amazing, and mine don't resemble yours in any way. I will try to collect some more for you this year. If you could send me a step by step way to take care of them from when I dig them to sending them to you. I am truly sorry about my bulbs that I sent you don't look very good.
I tried my best to reassure both members that I understood that 'stuff' happens, that I wasn't upset, and that trading is 'supposed' to be fun, and certainly not stressful. Digging, drying and storing daffs is a learning experience, and things can and do sometimes go wrong. I too lost a few bulbs to rot and some just totally dried up and I'm not sure why. Thankfully there weren't many. One year I dug mine too late (late July...was just learning) and they were already rooting in for the next year. They never cured/dried right and didn't get hard like they were supposed to. I think it set them back by a year, not blooming much the following spring, but did fine the spring after that.
Anyway, I gleaned some info from the Washington Daffodil Society Newsletter, covering various ways 4 different members handle digging, drying and storing their bulbs. I was surprised by some things, but this is advice from four successful growers and exhibitors.
Member A digs his bulbs and leaves them, with their label, on top of the dirt to dry. He allows the sun to bake the bulbs for 4-5 days. If it rains he doesn't worry about them. After this period the remaining foliage is removed and the bulbs are placed in a mesh bag with the label and then laid on large screen shelves. These allow for good circulation. The screens are outside, but under a large canvas awning so they are protected from rain. He no
longer washes or uses a fungicide dip on his bulbs.
Member B digs his bulbs then washes them. Once clean, he uses a knife to cut off the foliage and roots. He then soaks the bulbs for 30 to 60 minutes in a fungicidal solution made from Bonomyl Turf and Ornamental Systemic Fungicide (theactive ingredient of which is Cleary's) with a grubicide (liquid Triazicide) added to kill any narcissus fly grubs or other insects that might be present. The
bulbs are then put into berry boxes temporarily just for convenience in processing, then into mesh bags which are
hung in the carport, where it is shady and breezy, for the summer. Bulbs are processed clump by clump and the
identifying tags remain with the bulbs at each step. The bulbs are inspected from time to time during the summer
and any which have become soft and/or appear diseased are removed.
Members C and D use similar digging practices. They dig and bag their bulbs almost immediately to prevent mix-ups. Member D digs 20 varieties at a time placing the bulbs, plastic label and marker in large plastic pots. Once she runs out of pots, those dug are bagged, but all bulbs of one variety are always together and always in a container. While bagging, any remaining foliage is removed.
Member C uses scissors. Member D twists the foliage to remove it. If there are too many bulbs for a single mesh bag (about 6-7 per bag), then additional mesh bags are used with a plastic label put in each bag. All bags of a single variety are tied together. Once bagged, bulbs are washed. Member D uses a firm hose spray. Once washed, bulbs are soaked in a fungicide. (Don't forget the formalin or Clorox.) Members C and D leave the bags in the sun for a few days to dry, rotating occasionally. Once dry, Member D's are hung under her screened porch on clothes lines. Member C places her bulbs on screens in a shed . . .
When I dug mine, mid June, about 6-8 weeks after bloom time, I dug a clump at a time, cut the remaining foliage off of them about 2-3" from the top of the bulb with a scissors, and placed them on cardboard flats along with the tags. I then washed them a bit in water, spread them on the driveway to dry, and after a few hours I rolled them so they could dry on the bottom. I then placed them in net bags, (with the tag inside) and hung them on the carport to continue to dry and be stored until Oct to be divided up here and there....some for replanting, GW trades, swap tables, and just sharing. I checked them about once a month for rotted or soft bulbs and redistributed the bulbs in the net bags. Before sending any out, I remove any remaining roots, and any excess papery skins that are ready to come off.
How do you dig, dry and store your daffs until fall planting?