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Duckweed: Win Some, Lose Some

May 15, 2013

I promised a friend that I would write about my duckweed production from the perspective of total honesty. So… here’s me being honest:

That “very pretty Lemna minor” that I harvested in S. Illinois a couple of weeks ago and released in my test pond was a FAIL. It died off in mass clusters within a week. I’ve never experienced anything like it. All the nutrient levels were good. pH was perfect. Yes, it did receive more sun and wind than it was used to but nothing out of the ordinary. I ended up pulling all of it out of the pond and ran a slew of tests. Turns out, that particular strain showed slight differences in frond shape and translucence compared to what I normally harvested from that site. Not that anyone ever measures translucence in duckweed, but that’s about the only way I know how to describe it. My tests showed that no matter how I coddled it, it still wanted to kick the bucket. Next stop- compost heap.  I still can’t figure out what strain it is.

So. Fine. Moving right along…  My sons helped me harvest 200 gallons of fresh, local Lemna turionifera from my seed pond this evening and I replanted that test pond by the muted glow of my pickup’s tail lights.  It was just me,  the skinny moon, a few croaking frogs and a gentle warm breeze.  What a gorgeous night. Then home to feed my goldfish from the duckweed stuck in my sandals and get a hot shower.

Equipment update: I spent two days, off and on sewing a 50 ft “concentrating” net for my seed pond. It was getting old trying to reach out as far as I could with a 10 foot swimming pool pole and have to really work to get a bucket filled with duckweed. This new net was made from Dollar Tree items and a few nuts for weights. I loaded this new net into a little two man raft, clambered in and paddled around in a big circle on my seed pond, letting the net out as I went. I returned to shore and began to gently pull in my “catch.” It worked like a dream! I was able to harvest 1/3 of the entire pond in 45 minutes. (with the help of my two teen sons- can’t forget how they dug in and did the heavy carrying.)

I love the Dollar Tree. 🙂

2 Comments leave one →
  1. hamdi shaar permalink
    May 16, 2013 6:21 am

    Interesting stuff.


  2. Susan Munroe permalink
    May 16, 2013 12:13 am

    if you really want to know what it was, why not contact the most-local Cooperative Extension Service office to the collection location? They might know, or know who would.

    The USDA Plants Database general map shows that all nine native varieties of Lemna seem to grow in Illinois:

    Personally, I hate unanswered questions! I ran across something that said duckweed ponds need to be shallow. Why? Temp? They just live on the top, so what difference would a deeper bottom make?

    Great brainstorm on the collection net!

    I think I need to feed my Wolffia more, maybe some fresh chicken droppings. I’m putting the Spirodela out tomorrow, as temps are over 45°F at night and in the 60s during the day. So far, anyway.



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