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PLANT DAMAGE BY SUMMER

STORMS

T h e months of July and August, 1956, will be remembered as excessively wet and stormy, resulting in much damage to plants. The severity of the storms was isolated, but almost everyvvhere in Suffolk, effects of a wild wet summer have been evident in most gardens. Mr. A. C. C. Hervey sends me an account of damage at Felixstowe caused by a gale on July 29th, when trees were blown down and branches torn off : the leaves of trees on the windward side soon withered and in a few weeks feil to the ground ; some trees were completely stripped of leaves, whilst the young shoots of roses and other garden plants turned black as if Struck by frost. A week later, on August 6th, a hailstorm caused very severe damage in central Suffolk within an area which has had two other hailstorms causing similar loss to farm crops within the past eight years. The northern extremities of the area were in the parishes of Mendlesham and Wetheringsett and the path was more or less parallel in a south-easterly direction to Stonham Aspal and Pettaugh. Within this belt about two thousand acres of corn was severely damaged. On August 7th the hailstones still lay 4 inches deep under the battered down corn, whilst heaps 2 - 3 feet deep could be seen in farmyards and under roofs of barns. These hailstones were still one third of an inch in diameter after having lain for twentyfour hours. The local description that they feil as large as small walnuts was not much exaggerated. Barley, the main crop affected, suffered 80 - 95 per cent. loss of grain, and in most fields the general effect was a sea of straws with a bare rachis. Wheat withstood the force of the hail better than any crop : whilst some acres were almost a complete loss, a large area suffered 15-20 per cent. loss of grain. Probably owing to the weight of grain per ear, more wheat straw was flat on the ground than in the case of barley Pea pods were split open and heavily scarred. Sugar beet leaves were stripped to ribbons and the severest damage showed a petiole almost devoid of any part of the leaf. Potato leaves were all torn off and the main stems pitted and scarred as if slashed by a stick. Needless to say, the loss sustained by uninsured farmers was very heavy. T h e loss of leaves, dying back of plants and the loss of grain were the result of mechanical damage not directly caused by excessive wet or lowering of temperature. Heavy rain storms were not only accompanied by strong winds, but by winds which maintained strong force. Plants were blown heavily against others, whilst leaves on tree branches were continuously lashed by other branches which would cause immediate loss of leaf and subsequent


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PLANT DAMAGE BY SUMMER STORMS

loss due to drying up through severe bruising. Accompanying the wind, the heavy rain droplets would also cause damage to leaves (and under certain conditions could also cause detcrioration of soil structure.). In addition, big hailstones falling as they did in great quantity with a severe driving force inevitably accountcd for much damage to plants. Leaves torn off were again pitted as they lay on the ground, applcs were deeply holed, stems scarred deep and leaves torn off to leave a bare petiole. P.

J.

O.

TRIST.

ALIEN AND RARE PLANTS AT LAKENHEATH Many interesting plants have appeared from time to time within our village boundaries, this perhaps is not surprising, as Lakenheath lies in the North West corner of Suffolk, on the edge of Fen and " Breck " . T h e High Street is really the dividing line, the black fertile Fen being on the West side, whilst to the East we have the beautiful sandy " Breck " and the conifer plantations. A chicken run on the edge of the " Breck " has given us an astonishing variety of plants, including many aliens. In 1952, we had Broad Caucalis (Caucalis latifoliä) and Small Caucalis (Caucalis daucoides), both uncommon plants. Two years later the beautful Scarlet Horned Poppy {Glauciumcorniculatum) turned up. On May 27th of this year, my friend, John Hensby, who has an eye for such things, informed me that the Scarlet Horned Poppy was again in the chicken run. I told him of the rare poppy that had purple flowers and long seed pods, which many people would like to see. T h e next evening he called at my house and said the poppy in the chicken run had purple flowers. Upon visiting the site I saw it was undoubtedly the Purple Horned Poppy (Roemeria hybrida). T w o beautiful flowers were open and one seed pod was an inch long, altogether it flowered for five weeks and had a total of 70 flowers. What looked fairly tight buds overnight would be open the next morning and in bright sunlight the petals had fallen by mid-day. On cool, cloudy days the flowers would last all day. Nearly all the seed has been allowed to fall naturally. About 40 people from many parts of the British Isles came to see the plant. M.

G.

RUTTERFORD.

Plant Damage by Summer Storms  
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