Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Corn planted

I put in four ~40 foot rows of Who Gets Kissed? OP sweet corn.  This is ground where winter wheat and potatoes grew last year.  I'm using the plot in a much more contoured way this year.  The rows are still N-S, but I'm leaving the low areas for later plantings.

The West end, as usual, is the hardest area.  I hope to get way over there this year and dig out the grass. Then I can put in a nice hay and just stay out of there.  The problem is that it stays wet, and if it stays wet, it can't be worked very well.  During the time that it's wet, the sod keeps growing.  Catch 22.

Elliot thinks the extremely rare wheat in the test plot is his own personal cat grass.

The flock loves tearing into the compost pile!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Big fields up

The two spring wheat fields have been slow to germinate, but now they are showing good growth.  They were planted on a Tuesday and Wednesday, April 10 & 11.

The Windhaven field.
A railroad maintenance truck decided to get stuck in the field.  I don't think it will bother much.  They were working on the tracks behind the field and decided to get off using Kathy's drive.

The Newman Field.

There are still at least 6 acres on Newman that need to be disced.  Here I planted the tractor pretty good.  I came back a couple days later and managed to get it out.  Although the field is not really a low field, it sure is holding it's moisture.  I hate that all that poorly-buried sod is getting a chance to grow.  Hopefully I will get it under control soon and I can get a summer cover crop planted.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Onions and Cilantro planted

I planted three bunches of onions, in the far Southeast corner of the garden.  I had to work it up by hand as there are still too many wet spots to get the team in yet.  This is around 300 onions and it will be more than enough to feed me next winter.

The spring planted Wisconsin No 2 is not showing very much color.  I only planted it to get a picture of the color that some heritage variety wheat showed, but so far the Java and Haynes Bluestem have shown color much more dramatically.

This is the Haynes Blustem, coming up nicely.  Like most of the spring wheat in the test plot, it's a month old today.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Spring Wheat Notes

I have been checking the test plot at least twice a day recently.  I'm interested in the appearance of the wheat plants after germination.  Here are my notes from today.  It's been over a week since the first Java wheat emerged.

Winter wheat test plot:

  • Beloturka 100% dead
  • Kharkof  100% dead
  • Red May from 2017 100% dead
  • Nebraska No 60 100% dead
Everything except the Red May is something of a puzzle.  The Red May is no unexpected because it grew so poorly as a Spring wheat, and I have doubts about the seed's authenticity.  But the other wheats are bona fide winter crops, and it's strange that they died.

Spring wheat test plot:

  • Haynes Bluestem is basically all up, and it looks great.  There has been some nice red coloring on some of the stems.
  • Dakota is all up, and it's all green.  This is supposedly a selection of bluestem
  • Early Red Fife is up, with some red tips.
  • Purplestraw is a little behind the other plantings.  It's just starting to emerge.
  • The Red Fife planted as a control next to the Java is all up now.
Today was a beautiful day, sunshine and clear.  The soil is still quite wet but the standing water on the farm has basically disappeared.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Haynes Bluestem Germinated

The snow rapidly melted yesterday and more wheat is coming up in the test plot.  Some of the small plots are coming up, but it was too wet for me to get close enough to photograph.  The Haynes Bluestem made it's first appearance, and it looks good.  More interesting is the appearance of red color in the Java.  This wheat was previously solid green.  I want to keep checking the color every morning to understand better this phenomenon.
The Haynes Bluestem is just barely up.  The tips are showing signs of color.

The Java, which was not showing any color in it's first few days, now shows some brilliant color.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Java has Germinated

I've been watching the wheat from the March 26 planting obsessively, for a couple of reasons.  First, it's been unusually cold, so I'm wondering if wheat can do anything when the soil is that cold.  We had at least one or two mornings in the 'teens here on the farm, and it's barely been out of the 30's.  However, there have been a few days with sun.

Secondly, after watching the red stem color appear on the Vavilov and Pedigree No. 2 for just the first few days after germination, and then disappear, I want to record the stem color of all the wheat I'm growing.  To get good observations, I need to see it the day it comes out of the ground.

Here is what the Java looked like today, April 14.  I saw the first blades yesterday, and there is quite a bit that has not come up yet.  But there was enough additional germination overnight that I feel confident that it will all come up well.  I did not see any signs of red--it was all bright green like these guys.
Below are the temperature graphs for March and April.  The 19 day period of germination was mostly dry, btw.  But it was not very warm, and I'm impressed that wheat can do anything in such cold soil.  I'm not surprised that Java was the first out of the ground, either.  It grew amazingly fast last year as well.  The Red Fife (put into the test plot as a control), Early Red Fife, Haynes Bluestem, Dakota, and Purplestraw are not showing any growth above ground yet.

Two days after germinating, a truly awful spring blizzard came through.  Over the next few days the overnight lows were in the 20's, and several inches of snow, sleet, and rain fell.  It will be interesting to see how everything looks when this stuff finally thaws out!
Here is the view from the house on Monday, April 16.

This is what the mighty test plot looked like on April 18!

The chicks have been outside in the old coop for two weeks now.  They're doing well but I feel bad that it's been so cold.  They have a heat lamp on and are growing nicely.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Spring Wheat Planting

Spring 2018 was setting up differently than last year.  There was less moisture in the ground, although weather was cold.  When it did rain, it did not rain much.  (or snow, either)  So I could see an early planting window was possible.  I got out yesterday, and i was not disappointed!

Last year's planting was April 24-25.  It's nice to get in a full two weeks earlier.  Spring wheat does better the earlier it goes in.

The Windhaven field was basically perfect.  I disced it before noon, and it got some sun before I disced it again.  After that it was perfect.  I had two flat tires with the 330, which was a pain, but I got everything planted by Wednesday morning (today).  If things had gone better I would have dragged the field after planting, but I just picked up and ran to the Newman field.

Windhaven field.  This is about 2.3 acres.  I had the drill on notch 27 to start, then went to 26, and finished on 27.  Seven bags total of Red Fife.  152 lbs per acre.  This is exactly what I wanted!

The Newman field was very roughly plowed and the first pass with the disc was pretty miserable going.  I spent about two hours working up one acre for the Marquis.   Some spots probably got six passes with the disc/drag combo.  There are clumps of quackgrass but overall I was pretty happy.  There are close to 4 bags of Marquis seed in this field of around 1.15 acres.  Hopefully this is enough to compete with the weeds.

This is how I look on the 330 pulling the drill.  I ran the drill on notch 27, which may be heavier than what I want.  I put about 4 bags onto this plot.  This works out to 166 lbs/acre.  A tad heavy, but I think I need it to crowd out the old hay that is sure to grow up with the crop.

This is how the Marquis looked when finished.  

The remaining 6 or so acres of the Newman field will have to be disced and planted to a summer cover crop.  However, rain is coming so I won't be back for a couple of weeks.  I want to plant oats and peas, and maybe hay some of it.  The primary goal is to prepare the field for the Vavilov Turkey Red and Wisconsin No. 2, for September planting.  This field is only a mile from my house, which I really appreciate.  It's also surrounded by trees and houses on four sides, completely protecting it from pesticide and herbicide drift.  That will make the wheat coming off this field very unusual.  Most organic wheat sufferers from chemical contamination due to drift, regardless of certification.  It will be very interesting to get the wheat tested after harvest.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Oats added to the test plot

I added some historic oat varieties to the test plot today.  Wisconsin Wonder, aka Wisconsin Pedigree No. 1, was released in 1900 by the University.  I hope to grow this out and see how it tastes.

Wisconsin No 5 was selected from a variety called Swedish Select.  The University began its work on this oat variety in 1898.

Both oat plots are three rows only.  The Eastern one is Wisconsin Wonder, and the Western one is Pedigree No. 5.  They are sandwiched between the remaining spring wheat tests, the winter wheat test plot, and two rows of vegetables.

Monday, April 2, 2018


It's freezing here!  I haven't checked closely but it's been in the low 20's for recent overnights.  Despite this, the garden still has that nice dry spot in the middle and I figured something should go in.  So I put in two modest rows to the West of the winter wheat test plot.  The east row is half beets and half spinach.  The second row is all sugar snap peas.  There is more cold and rain for the next week.  We'll see how it goes!

Snowstorm on the night of April 3.  Later that week, overnight lows were in the 'teens.

The chicks are growing up nicely.  This year I got five Dominiques to add to the flock.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Turkey Red in Spring

I put in a tiny test plot of Wisconsin No 2 in on March 30.  I mostly did this because I need a good photo of young red stems.  I'm also going to be watching the other heritage, spring varieties for signs of colored stems at emergence.

Spring 2018 has been cold, but not as wet as previous years.  I'm hopeful that I can get the big fields of Red Fife and Marquis planted soon.  The ground does not have much moisture in it.  If the sun will just come out, I think I can go work up the Hy 38 field and get it planted.

This has been the best year ever for maple syrup on the farm.  I've made 2.5 gallons over three batches, which is plenty more than I need.  I'll be giving some away, and using it to make cookies.  The syrup is also fairly light colored.  This photo is from the last batch, and it's not that dark.  The last syrup of the season is usually quite dark.

Rosie loves to hang her tongue out!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Spring Test Plot

I planted five varieties of spring wheat in the test plot today.  The ground was very good, at least in the high spots towards the center of the garden.  This is the earliest I have ever planted wheat and I'm curious to see how it goes.  The historic information I have about growing spring wheat in Wisconsin said that early plantings can be very good.

I put the Java towards the South end of the established winter wheat test plot, in 9 rows.  The plot size was 62" x 120", for approx 53 grams of seed.

I put one row of Red Fife at the very south end of the plot, as a control.  This seed came off my 2017 Hy 38 field.

The Haynes Bluestem was not going to fit at the South end, since it gets wetter there.  So I improvised a patch to the West of the garlic, which was clean vegetable ground from last year.  115 grams total of Haynes Bluestem went in.

I had three new samples from the USDA to plant, which I put in tiny squares just South of the Haynes planting.

Dakota is a selection of Haynes Bluestem, which I am planting as a control.

Early Red Fife is a selection of Red Fife that Saunders made in 1905.  I am hoping to grow this out and make it my primary Red Fife offering in the future.  My hypothesis is that it will be more pure and correct than the Red Fife I have now.

Purplestraw is the forunner of all kinds of bluestems, as well as other major North American wheat.  I'm excited to see how it grows.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Test Plot Update

We are in the second day of an exceptional January thaw.  It came on very quickly and it's expected to end tonight.  The temperature was 58 degrees in Milwaukee under cloudy skies, which was a record for the day.  The previous two weeks were fairly bitter cold, with several overnight lows approaching -10 degrees Fahrenheit.  I even heard that Lake Michigan had significant freezing over.

Anyhow, I was surprised to find four of the 15 heritage wheat varieties in the test plot had significant or total winter kill.  The photos below are taken with the camera pointing east, in order from North to South.

Overview of the plot, from the Northwest corner looking Southeast. (note: the oats in the background are a cover crop that is supposed to winter kill)

The left column, from top to bottom, is Vavilov Turkey Red, Ehmke Turkey Red, and Red Clawson.  In the right column, the top plot, Kharkof, is showing winter kill.  The Krymka, middle, looks good.  The bottom, Beloturka, has significant winter kill.  This is a bit of a puzzle since Beloturka is one of the landraces that Turkey wheat is thought to be selected from.  This test is making a case that the other contender, Krymka, is the actual wheat that Turkey Red comes from.

The left colum, top to bottom, is Red May (USDA), Goldcoin, and Racine.  The right column has Red May from the Spring 2017 planting, and it looks pretty bad.  The middle is Early Noe, and the bottom is Wisconsin No. 2.

This last colum show the three plots at the South end.  The Nebraska No. 6, top, looks OK.  Nebraska No. 60 is in trouble.  The Montana No. 36 at the bottom looks good.
Here is what JA Clark says about Nebraska No. 60 and Nebraska No. 6.

The backup planting of Wisconsin No. 2 looks very good.

The germination test plot also looks good.