how does 2011 measure up?

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Well, after a couple of days, the twig I found on the ground and brought in the other day has started to look pretty sad. With the leaves drying out and curling up, I found myself noticing the twig itself more and remembered that I could tell how much a twig had grown each year by looking for the rings or knuckles (they're actually scars from the old terminal bud).


The current growth ends at the tip (the top circle) and goes down to where the green stem ends. That's the first ring on the twig. Going down to the second ring, we can see that last year's growth was just a bit more than the twig managed to grow this year before it was blown off of the tree. The two previous years both look to have been years with smaller growth. And then, four years ago, the growth was much bigger. I recall that when I looked for rings on my twig before, I noticed that the growth from four years ago - 2007 - was like three times a long as the other years. I remember looking up the weather for that year and seeing that it was one of the warmest years on record. Having noticed the same growth pattern on this twig, I thought I'd take a closer look at the temperature that spring. I looked up the high temperatures from April 18th, when I first spotted green tips sprouting from the terminal buds on my tree, through June 9th for 2007 (blue) and 2011 (red). I made a little graph so I could see exactly how much warmer 2007 was than this year.


You can see that there are barely any points where the 2011 graph is above that of 2007. And it looks like it was significantly warmer for a long period in early May of 2007. From watching the development of my tree, I'd guess that that is a key period for early leaf and shoot development. That might account for the difference. But still, 2011 doesn't look too bad actually. I wonder if 2011 could end up being a big growth year after all. Who says these stems are done growing?

I snapped a picture of the twig closest to my living room window so I could compare the new growth this year with the previous year's growth. 


This year's growth ends where the green ends and last year's growth ends at the ring at the bottom of the picture. Judging from the photo, I'd say it hasn't yet grown as much as it did last year. 


I pulled out the tape measure to be sure. Last year's growth measures about 3 1/2" and this year's growth was 2" last time I checked. Is this stem really going to get 1 1/2" longer? The leaf cluster already has five pairs of leaves. If it keeps growing, will the shoot grow more leaf pairs or will these grow farther apart from one another (like the leaflets seem to be doing)?

A quick look at another twig near my window also shows that 2011 hasn't yet lived up to 2010.

And a look at the temperatures would suggest that 2011 won't live up to 2010 either.


Again, that blue line is constantly above this year's red line! I wonder if this is coincidence or if the warmer temperatures in these crucial weeks really did make the difference.

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October 2011

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Alison published on June 9, 2011 11:55 PM.

it's all relative was the previous entry in this blog.

from flower to fruit: the horse chestnut is the next entry in this blog.

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