Monday, September 18, 2017

Spring Street Planting 2017

Today we drilled the 2 acre field on Spring St to winter wheat.  For me this was a big day.  Two of the historic wheats I have been growing out at home graduated to the big field on this day.

Condition of the soil after drilling and one final pass of the roller.
It was two years ago that I began growing out three historic Wisconsin wheat varieties in my test plot.  Turkey Red, Wisconsin No. 2, and Bacska.  The Bacska suffered major winter kill this season and I decided to discontinue work on it.  

The Turkey Red was originally planted as a control, to test it against modern Turkey strains.  When it grew with a red stem, something that modern Turkey Red does not do, I was very intrigued.  After learning that Russian botanists starved to death while protecting this exact seed line, I became even more passionate about growing it out.

Wisconsin No. 2 is a selection of Turkey Red released by the University of Wisconsin in 1918.  Now that I know the USDA lost it's own Turkey Red some time during the 20th Century, and that the Vavilov Turkey was collected 1923, I believe that Wisconsin No. 2 may be the oldest and most authentic Turkey Red extant.  It also looks amazing.  The No. 2 berries from the test plot look better than any other Turkey Red I have ever grown, in a big field or in my test plot.  I have found references to No. 2 from 1911, so it is at least that old.

The field was roughly oriented N-S, and for the small plantings we made two areas in the middle, oriented E-W.  The Wisconsin No. 2 (WN2) is the Northern plot and measures 28.5' x 133'.  The drill was set to notch 19 and the total seed in this area was 6 lbs 2 oz.  This works out to 70.3 lbs/acre.  I wanted it a bit heavier, but it should be OK.  My thinking is to make it as thin as possible while still making a strong stand.  This should maximize the productivity of each wheat plant, which is what I want.  I'm not trying to maximize yield per acre.  For growing out see that is limited in quantity, you want to maximize yield per plant.

The Vavilov Turkey Red (VTR) is the Southern plot and measures 13' x 133'.  There were 4 lbs 6 oz put down, around 88 lbs/acre.

The setup meant that Ron's 8' wide drill could do three passes around the small plots, protecting them well from the weeds that always creep in from the edges.  The drill was set to notch 20 for the remainder of the field, and my calculation comes to 135 lbs/acre.  I'm a little confused why the seeding rate was so much heavier.  It was 4.5 bags, and I checked the planting area using google earth.  The drill definitely plants light when the bin gets empty, so that explains a lot of the difference.  Next time I think I will just stay at notch 20 for small plantings like this.

We had to did just two passes for the VTR with only 10 cups in the drill filled.  For the WN2, Mary & I kept all the cups filled for three passes.  I had a generator and vacuum cleaner out in the field to clean the drill in between varieties.  I used an Earthway to drill in a little extra on the "headlands" of the small plots.

Mary rides the drill, checking the seed levels and working the levers to start and stop drilling. 

Vavilov Turkey Red is the Southern plot.

Wisconsin No. 2 is the northern most plot in the field

The two plots are oriented E-W.  The northernmost plot is 28.5' x 133', and has 6 lbs 2 oz of Wisconsin No. 2 drilled in.  This is about 70.3 lbs/acre.  The southern plot is Vavilov Turkey Red.  It measures 13' x 133' and has about 4.5 lbs of seed.  This works out to 88 lbs.acre.  We drilled both using notch 19 on the drill.  I set it lighter to try and get the biggest possible seed heads per plant. 

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