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digging drying and storing daffs for fall planting

Posted by chemocurl zone 5/6 S INDIANA (My Page) on
Sun, Oct 17, 10 at 19:35

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?

Sue


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: digging drying and storing daffs for fall planting

It depends whether we're in a La Nina or El Nino year. Truly.

Around November, 'usually' we have a spell of dry weather; the first of the hosing weather. The spring damp ends and all sorts of bushes and grasses start in to mature their seeds. The daffodils, apart from the late late show, start to brown off. The tazettas hang on, though.

Coming into December (longest day month) they're ready to lift.

I have a heavyish soil so they come well-coated with dirt. I put them into big buckets and leave them under cover to dry off naturally. A few weeks later I clean off the dirt and the remains of the leaves and roots. Then they go into onion baggies and get hung up in the garden shed - cool and protected.

In the last year I've been discovered by some wretched predator with fat bulb-eating grubs in its life cycle. They are fascinated by the special-to-me bulbs grown in containers. Usually the ones that dislike disturbance... And prefer being well-dried to set up for next spring. (Think 'Sun Disc'. Or Iris bucharica.)

Those bulbs are usually left in the pot and then shaken out for cleaning in autumn, gloating over the increase, and repotting. Bulbs with a touch of cyclamineus get left where summer rain will get through as they prefer cooler, moister woodland. So my new pests have plenty of time to feast. A new routine is being prepared this year to see if I can prevent the losses. Fleece comes into it.

The biggest hazard is spearing the bulbs with whatever I use for lifting. Pretty much guaranteed to lead to disorder and decay - though the daughter bulbs usually make it through.

TOTALLY OFF TOPIC: Sue, has anyone done any work on daylight length and night temperatures? A link would be so welcome. N canaliculatus and henriquesii are the species under consideration.


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RE: digging drying and storing daffs for fall planting

Hi, chemocurl. I dug mine this year and used your technique, as closely as I could, and they did GREAT. Thank you!

Although I had lost some names, I had been tagging clumps with a good description, plus bloom time since early spring. I used good old vinyl blinds cut into six inch strips and just put them down into the clumps, but not all the way into the ground. They were only out there a few weeks, so it worked.

I dug the bulbs in late spring after the foliage had turned yellow and brown, but while I could still find the clumps. I pulled the clumps apart and laid the bulbs, with foliage attached, in single layers onto newspapers in the basement. I laid clumps of the same variety together and kept their tags with them. I left them in the basement like that for most of the summer. Then in August, I went down and broke off the foliage and put the bulbs, with tags into mesh bags. (I had been saving onion bags all summer. Very handy.)

I doubt I lost five bulbs. Thanks so much for your help!

Just as a note, I had several kinds of jonquils that had formed softball sized clumps of very small bulbs. I have since read that when bulbs are planted too shallowly, they will "blast" into small sizes, but make dozens. I planted them a bit more deeply this week.


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RE: digging drying and storing daffs for fall planting

Thank you both for your input. I didn't mention it in the Subject line, but this is #10 (at the moment anyway) of the proposed new FAQ under Daffs.

Since there are so many little variations, and really no one 'right' way, I'm thinking of posting all of the above ways, with a little editing. Of course will run it by you all before inputting them.

vetivert, (I'm going to start abbreviating that to just v v, OK?)

I put them into big buckets and leave them under cover to dry off naturally. A few weeks later I clean off the dirt and the remains of the leaves and roots.
I have always been told that putting daffs in plastic, for any amount of time at all, is a very bad thing. Would you mind if I would edit what you posted to substitute 'container' instead of "big buckets"?

Donna,
I don't remember helping you before digging time, but am glad you had digging and storing success.

Just as a note, I had several kinds of jonquils that had formed softball sized clumps of very small bulbs. I have since read that when bulbs are planted too shallowly, they will "blast" into small sizes, but make dozens. I planted them a bit more deeply this week.
hmmm...had never heard that. I planted maybe 5 bulbs of Sun Disc in 2006 quite shallowly and dug them this year. I don't recall them being softball sized clumps, but maybe it is because they are by nature a pretty small bulb anyway, since it is a miniature. I had 'lots' of blooms from the clump in the spring so I don't think there were any adverse problems being planted shallowly. I don't remember how much they had multiplied...think I will start noting that info when I dig. Maybe it is because of different climates and different soils, or maybe it depends upon the cultivar?

Here is a tip too for those who have a lot of different daffs to dig. In the spring, when the daffs are in bloom, one can mark clumps needing dug by circling the foliage at ground level with some bright surveyor's tape with info written on it...bulb name if known, div/color, if that's all that is known, # of blooms, etc. The tape is available at any hardware or big box store and you can then just write the info on one end with a black sharpie. The writing will hold up for even more than one year, in case they get missed being dug the first year they are marked for digging.
TOTALLY OFF TOPIC: Sue, has anyone done any work on daylight length and night temperatures? A link would be so welcome. N canaliculatus and henriquesii are the species under consideration.

v v,
Now that is a totally new wrinkle with me (something I have not heard of before).


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