Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Yam Day Update

From Brad, Historical Interpreter...

This week we'll close our New Yam Festival commemoration by looking back on our little experiment and seeing how our growing season is fairing for our yams.

Usually, I like to start the Yam Day blog with a little piece about some part of Igbo life that is somehow related to the yam followed by some pictures or a video. This time, I think it would be better to look at the data--i mean pictures--first. Our yams have slowed dramatically in that last two weeks, and I think you should see just how much.

Yam 1:  Standing at 32" short, this yam actually lost 6" this week. Wow. If you look closely at the tip of the vine, you'll see where the tip has begun to wilt.
Yam 2:  Like the previous yam, this one appears to be shorter (by a 1/2"), standing at 37.5". I don't attribute this to wilting, but is more likely human (my own) error. After carefully wrapping the vines around a stick almost daily, the vines take on a "springy" quality that makes it hard to stretch out in a straight fashion without breaking it.
The Twins: Whew! At least these two are still growing. These two measure in at about 40.25", about 4.25" difference from last week. 
The Baby: This one grew about 3.25" this week, topping out at 19.25". 
From a few posts ago, here's our reigning Di Ji, but not for long. The vine has started dying at the tip and it is spreading.
Finally, a stagnant new growth. In one week's time this sprout has not grown at all, but has started forming small leaves on its very small and low-to-the-ground tip:
If you read some of our earliest blogs, you should be able to see the pitiful growth of the vines this week. In one week's time, Yam 5 (the Di Ji) grew 25", more than doubling its size back in early August (8/7-8/13). The biggest problem lately, I believe, is the temperature. Yams generally like a temperature range of 77-86 degrees Fahrenheit, and it was during the last week of warm weather that Yam 5 had its most impressive growth.  The last two days of that paricular week (8/12 and 8/13), Staunton had its first low temperatures in the lower 60's. Every day following that week, temperatures were in the lower sixties or upper fifties for the rest of August except for 3 nights when the low temperature was 64 degrees, 1 degree above what I define as "lower 60's". After that week of exceptional growth for Yam 5 (it was Yam 2's fastest growth as well), the yams' growth dropped considerably.

It may or may not be coincidence that September and October highlight the main harvest season for both traditional Igbo and me. Fall is certainly coming waaay too early this year--at least when it comes to growing good, full-sized West African yams. We'll keep you updated on the growth, or lack thereof, and the growing conditions here in Staunton.        

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