Demonstrator Hub Update – BGI, Chesham – February 2024

20 March 2024

February 2024 – BGI, Chesham Demonstrator Hub Update

BGI Site Plan

BGI Site Plan

As with many of the other demonstrator hubs, the BGI site in Chesham has experienced some heavy frosts with temperatures dropping to -6ºC some nights. It has also seen several named storms over the winter which damaged some of the crops. The early part of 2024 was then very wet which has limited the amount of work that could be carried out at the site as access to the plots was limited due to the ground conditions.

No real pest damage has been seen but rabbits were using badger sets to get into the plots, this has now been controlled and didn’t cause any damage. A rotten tree also fell on the deer fence but this was repaired immediately so didn’t cause a problem.

Hedges have been trimmed around the perimeter and the areas that require glyphosate spraying have been planned.

Crop Diaries

Click on the titles below to find out how each of the crops are progressing.


Buds formed early in January on the Alder at BGI Chesham and they are now looking good but the bud have not burst yet. There are no signs of pests or diseases.

Gapping up was performed on 31st January with 4 new trees planted to fill the gaps.

Black Locust

The SRF Black Locust ‘Turbo’ and ‘Turbo Obelisk’ plots look good despite being dormant. There are no signs of disease or frost issues and no signs of bud burst yet. The wind has caused a slightly windswept look to some plants with a few snapped branches.


  • The winds early in the winter caused some damage to the SRF Eucalyptus. The wind damage was predominantly on the edges of the plots. The tree and guards were being caught in the wind, which then rocks the 3 bamboo supporting canes, making large holes around the base, and pushing the young trees to 45 degrees in some cases.  These holes once full of water could cause root damage if there was a hard frost.
  • Frost damage to E. dairympleana was observed and documented.
  • Frost damage to  E. glaucescens was observed and documented.

Since this early winter damage,

  • The tree guards have been secure.
  • Weeding has occurred around the plants.
  • The plants look healthy and are growing away.
  • There has been no significant signs of frost damage.


The SRF Poplar has been holding up well to the strong winds and the plants look healthy but there is no sign of bud burst yet.

The SRC Poplar is also doing well, the plot has been neatly mown and the plants are 1.5-2m tall. A few plants have lodged.


Both the 0.5ha Miscanthus Giganteus and the 0.5ha Miscanthus Athena plots have no issues. The plants are fully senesced and there are no weed issues, just some grass in the understory. The same is true for the 2023 Miscanthus variety trial plot.

Delays with the supply of mustard seed means that the drilled seed in the 2024 Miscanthus variety trial plot has not germinated. There are no serious perennial weed in this plot and a low level of annual meadow grass and chickweed.


The 0.5ha SRC Willow plot has been neatly mown and weeds are under control. The plants are currently 3-3.5m tall and many of them are flowering. Glyphosate was applied in February.

The Willow variety trial was harvested the week commencing 19th February. The plants were between 0.5 and 3 m tall and there was early bud burst and catkins present on some varieties.


The Sida has not established very well and the area is quite weedy.

Reed Canary Grass

The Reed Canary Grass plot area has been ploughed ready for the start of the grasses trial. Some weeds have since emerged.


The Switchgrass plot area has been ploughed ready for the start of the grasses trial. Some weeds have since emerged.

Plans and Actions

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