Wow. I’ve been neglecting this little space here for the last month and a half. For the handful of you who actually read this, I apologize. I haven’t forgotten it, or given it up. And I definitely haven’t run out of plant-related topics to talk about. Somehow, life – my professional weed science researcher life – has been a bit busy.
Oh, and I’m working on growing a human, too. Turns out it is just as exhausting as everyone says.
But that’s another discussion for another time.
I have more houseplants to introduce you to, and with spring in full gear we can actually get gardening in the outdoors again, too. But today, I wanted to give you a glimpse into my other reality. That weed science researcher reality.
I used to tell people that winter was the slow time for work. The time to get caught up on reports and plan for the coming field season. After this winter I’m going to have to stop telling people that. Yes, I have been catching up on reports. And yes, I have been planning for the upcoming field season. But we’ve also had some substantial greenhouse studies going on (that have even put my sewing skills to use). And I’ve been trying to get some research written up for publication in peer reviewed journals. We’ve also been traveling to various professional meetings – the Utah Weed Control Association meeting in Vernal, where I helped teach a sprayer calibration lab as well as taught some plant identification of some newly invading weed species, and the Western Society of Weed Science meetings in Albuquerque, where I presented on some of our recent research involving vegetation monitoring and weed mapping.
And then we’ve been doing some weed mapping. In March. Normally our mapping season starts in May, with some training. This year, we started in March. Well, really, this project dates back to 2011 when a cooperative project between Utah State University and the Fish and Wildlife Service focused on prioritizing inventory targets and conducting invasive species inventories began. Initially, four wildlife refuges were inventoried for weeds. A few years later, two additional refuges were added to the list. And this year, we got to go back to one of those original refuges and do a partial re-inventory of selected species. Which was the lucky refuge, you might ask?
Destination: San Diego, California
Admittedly, not a bad place to spend a week. Over the course of a week we covered approximately 35 miles (on foot, with an additional 10 or so from the vehicle) of roads and trails. We focused on 6 specific weeds, and found all six of them at varying levels of infestation. We got sunburned (that first sunscreen application of the year never seems to provide complete coverage it seems). But we saw no ticks or rattlesnakes (which was a big improvement from four years ago). And I took way too many pictures of plants that aren’t weeds.
I know it’s only April, and we were getting snowed on last week, but it looks like the “slow winter season” is officially over.
Here’s to more weed mapping (with no ticks or rattlesnakes) this field season.