Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spring Wheat Test Plot

I put the 2017 Spring planting to bed in the test plot today.  What a relief!  The long wet wait this year has been agonizing.  Although I am still a week or two away from the commercial plantings, there was a dry enough patch in the garden to get this important planting in today.

There are two new varieties, both extremely old.  Red May and Java are just about the oldest varieties of wheat that were grown historically in Wisconsin.  Red May is actually a winter wheat, but I planted it in the Spring to get a jump on growing it out.  I will harvest it in August, then turn around and plant it again in September.  This will save me a year on growing it out.

There are some other winter varieties that I received recently from the USDA, but I'm fast tracking the Red May because I'm anxious to have enough to taste.  The other varieties I'm more interested in for comparison and morphological observation.

Here is the Haynes Bluestem that I first grew out in 2016.  I am really excited to see how it does this year.  Last year's planting was late in the season.

Here is the Prelude, also in it's second year on the farm.

Here is how the plot looks.  From North to South, each variety is in a 4-row block.  The northernmost block (not pictured, because I planted in later) is a mix of the 2016 varieties that I found after winnowing the chaff.  I hope to grab a few blue stems out of this stand and therefore add to my stock of bluestem seed this year.  Haynes Bluestem really does have blue stems, and it should be easy to spot.  The other seed should be Turkey, Pedigree No. 2, Bacska, and Prelude.

Here is one of the stands of Turkey from last Fall's planting.  It looks beautiful!  To the left you can see a few blades of Bacska that survived the Fall die-off.  If I get some seed out of here I will propagate it with Spring plantings from now on.  I believe that the Bacska died due the topsy-turvy weather last Fall.  This variety seems to require a very gradual cooling and a reliable snow cover to survive winter.  Since it was once a successful winter crop in Wisconsin, I suspect this crop failure is a sign of a changing climate in our region.  

Testing the digger in the field on Hy 38.  It's too wet to work the whole field but I found a dry spot to try out this digger and drag, which are both new to me.  This is a soybean field I am leasing and all of the Red Fife and Marquis will be planted here.  If the rain holds off and the sun keeps coming out, I hope to plant 7-8 acres next week.

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