Planning for the Harvest
It’s the first day of spring, the vernal equinox, and ARRGO is planning for our Spring Harvest 2021. Facility repairs and maintenance speed along, supplies are ordered, and schedules are set up. The operations crew strategize on efficiencies for receiving and handling the freshly harvested roots. Customer orders have been received and there is anticipation for the best harvest yet.
In the field the Rhodiola still hibernates, solidly frozen in the ground. Snows are melting, though, and the water sinks into the earth – a good sign that winter’s hold is breaking and the soil is warming.
The colors of winter linger and the eye searches for hints of green. In colder latitudes the strengthening sun of early spring can often cause water runoff from early snowmelts. Instead of sinking into partially thawed soil, the water pools into low areas or draws, creating temporary ponds and swelling streams and rivers.
This winter seemed less snowy than normal. The cover of snow is now peeled back to reveal the soil, compressed vegetation, and all the projects that were left undone last fall.
The Rhodiola buds remain tightly closed, but the warmth of early spring will soon swell the buds. Shoots and leaves will quickly follow, and the Rhodiola harvest will be in full dig.
Each year the ARRGO farmers uncover a few more of Rhodiola’s secrets. And some of them are not what we want to hear. We’ve known since the beginning that the roots weigh less in spring, and now we can quantify it. As the buds and shoots develop, the roots give up some of their mass. Farmers will lose between 6 and 13% by weight in spring compared to their fall harvest. Although the root volume does not change from fall to spring, the roots are actually less dense while the shoots are actively growing. If only we could harvest before they start the transition to bolt. But that would mean dynamite and chunks of flying frozen dirt.
So while we plan for the harvest, we also question how to do it better. When is the best time to harvest? What influences growth and yield? What creates the highest levels of beneficial compounds? Time to plan to get some answers!