California Drought?

I keep hearing news stories of the terrible drought in California. I can really sympathize with all our California folks as Texas has suffered through drought conditions of late. Although our winter and early spring rains have increased it has not been enough to totally refill our lakes.

Just wondering how our California hybridizers are faring? Is your water bill thru the roof? Have you lost a lot of roses? Do you harvest rainwater? Do you have any drought tolerant seedlings?

Availability of water was one prime consideration about my recent move. Relief from “extreme heat, extreme fire danger”, causing increased water demand was also an important part. I received an email from Burlington Roses this morning saying it’s extremely bad there. She said many wells are dry there and she’s had to deepen her well and may have to drill another if this one dries up. The potential costs of well drilling there exceed what my parents bought their first home in California back in 1970. She is having to reduce her offerings to conserve water and, if the rest of the water goes, may well have to close the nursery. Yet we continue permitting the use of millions of gallons to “frack”, then dump the toxic waste back into drinking water aquifers. Why do we insist upon fouling our own nests?

California is definitely in a drought. We have had approx. 3" of precipitation this season, have no lawn (never have had a lawn at this site) and are surrounded by many native and Australian plantings, but not all. I do not think that the drought alone would be so bad, but combined with the unusually high temps we have been experiencing (I believe we are on record as experiencing an average of over 10 degrees above normal) has exacerbated the situation. I am also in a geographical location that experiences higher winds coming off the eastern dry inland areas, which has only made it worse. And I am not in any position to pick up and move. I am reminded often of the Twilight Zone episode titled “After Midnight”–May have that name wrong but for those Zonies, this was the one where the sun was still out after midnight because the Earth was on a trajectory that was going to hurl it into the sun eventually. Just feels that way, (and my memories of that episode may be completely erroneous.) I do collect water but have used all but 100 gallons of it, and that much is usually kept for emergency purposes-like the water being turned off for 2-3 days or something like that. Our water bills are large, somewhat like those with medium to large lawns, in part because we also have a pool, of which I am not a fan. The main types of roses that have suffered this yr are the Spinosissima hybrids, and a few of the Prairie peace crosses. The foliage of the spins is not as nice as previously, and they bloomed earlier and en masse this yr. But not all of them. There seems to be two or three that are more heat and drought tolerant, and the same can be said for the PP offspring, which are actually putting on a lot of new healthy looking growth. The woodsii species, which came from Canada, is flourishing, as is the hyb. Acicularis and offspring. The foliolosa x rugosa 2 yr olds are blooming well, looking great, forming hips and also seemingly flourishing. Because I have cut back on watering overall, (they all get dry to the bone between watering, except for those that got a little extra kelp in their planting mix) I have had more rust and some blackspot show up-just from stress I believe. And it has been difficult to prevent the newly transplanted seedlings from dessication. I believe that D. Zlesak’s article in the recent newsletter (page 18) addressed just that thing, and if I cannot successfully get the germination rolling earlier next yr., I will be investing in a couple of protective domes to increase humidity until roots get established. It is not realistic to expect these ‘babies’ to adjust to this lowered humidity while developing roots and as a result I did lose more than previous yrs., where the humidity was somewhat constant. We are in a water district that does not rely on imported water, but will be impacted by the mandated cutbacks.

It’s all very sad and I’m really sorry to hear about Burlington.

As many of you know, I have been (or at least trying to) breed for heat tolerant roses. I never give my seedlings humidity - not even from day one. They make it or not. The seedlings are grown outdoors from the time I feel they have developed a sufficient root - usually about a week or so after germination. Surprisingly the majority of them do fine, until mildew starts to cull them. And I almost never lose a seedling to damping off and never use fungicides. I have really not found the lack of humidity to be a big problem.

  • and I live in the sonoran desert. Just went outside to look. Seedlings are in all-day full desert sun and the current humidity is 16% and temperature is about 90F. Many of them look great. Many of them don’t. Nature does a good job culling. Darwin would be proud.

So sorry you folks are being water stressed. Sorry to hear about Burlington also. At the height of our drought we put in two 250 gallon rainwater tanks. I amazes me how quickly they fill up. Since 95% of my roses are in pots it is easy to make judicious use of the rainwater. Down side is it causes more stress. Our town’s water supply is from wells but we are constantly fighting to keep San Antonio from coming in and trying to buy water rights from Alcoa and drawing down our water table. San Antonio has overgrown it water supply. Here in Texas we are praying for El Niño to come back for a visit.

Are any of you Californians and Texans considering moving to a more Eastern state where water shortages are not an issue?

Central NJ, zone 7a

NO! Even with all of its problems, California continues to be one of the best places to be, for many reasons. I will give up growing anything but gravel, concrete and dirt before that time is even something to consider.

I believe that water tanks are the solution in the warm and dry sectors of this state because while the rains have not been generous, it is quite amazing how much can be gathered in a short time from just one roof. Also the concept of growing in pots makes it easier to be judicious with water. I have almost all my roses from the last 5 yrs in pots just because I could not stay ahead of the gophers. But a few remain in ground either because the gophers have not discovered them or because they are vigorous enough to recover root growth before succumbing to the stress of having most of their roots removed by rodents. As far as moving, I am not a native Californian but came this direction by choice. There are many other issues involved besides periodic droughts.

I think the water tank solution is a good one as long as the price is OK. I really wish California would consider desalinization plants. Or, given the wealth in the state, floating down icebergs. The Colorado River is no longer a long term solution for California and may even not be a short term solution anymore since large scale agriculture will get first dibs.

Central NJ, zone 7a, where the water always flows…

“Aspirin an Essential Tool for Plants during Drought”

1 Like

I wonder how much aspirin per rose plant? I think I will try this with some of my seedlings.

I would really like to know more about using aspirin. Do you dissolve it in the water?

Cathy, we may gripe and complain but as for me, my Mom’s family came to Texas in 1851 and my Dad’s family came in 1910 and Mom still owns the family farm. There is just something about being a native born Texan that you just can’t explain. I would never leave. I do enjoy pushing the envelope horticulturally here in Texas, like growing rhubarb. Texans are innovative, we have many new wineries and vineyards and olive groves going in with olive oil production. With all the new craft breweries starting up I’m sure it is only a matter of time before someone figures out how to grow hops here. There are always farmers here willing to try growing something new. Sometimes the new crops florish, sometimes they don’t but you can bet there is a Texas farmer that will try.

Olives and grapes are a natural for Med climate semi-desert. Fescue is not. Nor is bermuda grass for that matter. It has the ability to be the most water-thirsty crop in the world as shown by studies done in AZ nearly a century ago. It can consume 120 inches depth a year. It is drought tolerant though.

If Californians had to pay the true price of water shipped from Colorado, they would desalinate. Until then, no way.

I looked for published papers with Jason Stevens and salicylic acid. I found one:

I have the full paper. This is what it said about the concentration:

“SA was dissolved in absolute ethanol then added drop
wise to water (ethanol/water, 1/1000, v/v) (Williams
et al. 2003). SA application consisted of root
drenching, which occurred after withholding water
from the plants for 2 days (without observable plant
wilting). Initial SA treatments occurred 2 weeks after
sowing with a subsequent application 4 weeks after
sowing. This allowed for a known amount of SA
(40 ml of 0.1 mM) for plant uptake. Untreated plants
received 40 ml of (ethanol:water 1/1000, v/v) over the
two application times. Rewatering to field capacity
occurred 2 days after the final SA application.”

Now there is no guarantee that they used the same concentration in this latest work (especially since the latest work utilized a spray).

I did find another spray research paper (by different authors):
“SA was dissolved in absolute ethanol then added drop wise to water (ethanol/
water: 1/1000 v/v) and was applied at 30 DAS on the foliage of plants
at the concentrations of 0.5 mM on plants subjected to no stress
(100% FC) or drought stress (50% FC) with a hand sprayer. The control
plants were sprayed with ethanol/water: 1/1000 v/v. A surfactant teepol
(0.5%) was added with the control and SA treatments solution. The volume
of the spray was 25 ml per pot. The concentration of SA was selected
based on our earlier findings (Nazar et al., 2011). The experiment
followed a randomized complete block design and the number of
replicates for each treatment was four. Measurements were done at
45 DAS and care was taken to select the same age of leaves for the

“SA was dissolved in absolute ethanol”

Hmmm… I usually take my aspirin after the ethanol…

Lol, Philip

Has Charlotte been keeping you up too many late nights as of late?