Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Potatoes

It's mid-May and still no sign of good soil conditions.  I did some hand-working of a small section and put a few potatoes in.  These are some purple spuds I traded for through the Kenosha Potato Project.  Supposedly the colored-flesh potatoes are healthier.  Can't wait to see how they taste!



It's about a 15-foot row to the East of the wheat testing area.


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

May Survey

Here is what the Newman Rd field looked like this week.  The UW-Extension wheat report said that wheat in Southern Wisconsin is two weeks behind where it was last year.  Last year was also a late year, so I guess that's where climate conditions may be headed in my part of the world.  Cold, late, wet springs.  I feel bad that these conditions coincided with the first major planting of Wisconsin No 2 wheat in 80 years.  All that precious seed killed by these awful growing conditions!  But enough survived for the project to continue.

The latest climate summary from NOAA just announced that the last 12 months were the wettest on record in the US.

This is the Haynes Bluestem planting.  There is a slight washout from spring rains but otherwise it looks good.

Here is the Marquis planting.  Coming up on schedule.

The Vavilov (left) and Wisconsin No. 2.  There is no longer any denying it--the winter wheat planting was heavily damaged.  Based on the patterns and extensive washout, I believe that 90% of the damage was caused by the severe heavy rains in September, October, and November of last year.  It could be that some of it was winter-kill, but I really think most of it was rain-kill.  A combination of the saturated conditions, and the attendant cloudy cold conditions (which severely limited growth before winter set it), really doomed this planting.  I will at least be able to get back the precious seed that I planted, and I expect at least a few bushels to sell.  But not nearly what I was hoping for!

A healthy section of the Wisconsin No. 2.

Here is what April looked like in my back yard.  Rain, wet, and cold.  It's now the second week of May and we're still dealing with highs in the low 40's with rain and overcast conditions.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Java Plot

The Java has outgrown the home test plot so I put it in the Newmand Rd field.  I could have planted it when I did the the main planting on April 9, but I was kind of curious what a later planting would look like.  This meant I had to work up a section by hand, since the moisture from a big snowstorm compacted the soil.  With the wheel hoe I worked up a section 27' x 12' on the North end of the WN2 planting, and drilled in with the earthway as usual.  465 grams, good conditions for planting (at least up in this high and mostly dry spot).







Here is the Wisconsin No 2 up close and personal.

The Vavilov and Wisconsin No 2 were both significantly damaged in the rain last September and October.  It feels good to see some green, but probably half of the crop was lost.  More annoying is that I will probably have to do some hand weeding in the field to keep things under control now.  A spotty stand will have trouble keeping weeds at bay.

Here is what the Marquis looks like, up close and personal.  It's coming up very slowly, which is to be expected.  Weather has been cold and damp.


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Pizza Plot

2019, just like 2018, is not offering any simple solutions in the garden.  Relatively little soil was worked up last fall, due to the extraordinary wet conditions.  Really, the soil was continuously saturated from late September through right now.  I am planting only on the highest spots, and unable to do much good tillage.  About a week ago the donkeys plowed a 5' wide strip (we quit since it was hard to find ground dry enough to plow).  It was really just a test but now I'm using it for planting!  I drilled in 185 grams of extra Haynes Bluestem wheat in a 4' x 25' plot.  This will be enough to make a couple loaves of bread for the fall pizza party--the first loaf of Haynes Bluestem that anyone has eaten in 100 years!  I'm very curious to see how this wheat bakes.  It's really the most distinct wheat I've worked with to date.



Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Newman Rd Spring Wheat planting

April 9 turned out to be planting day for spring wheat on the Newman Rd field.  I only planted Marquis as market wheat.  The other plantings were test plots for growing out seed.  As I've come to expect, waiting for good planting conditions is sketchy.  We had a reasonable drying trend, but then it rained more on Saturday than I had hoped.  Sunday was not very sunny, but then Monday the sun came out.  By Wednesday there was snow and rain in the forecast.  More rain and cold after that, for at least ten days.  Ergo, plant on Tuesday, or wait another two weeks.

Here are the two test plots, at the South end of the winter wheat planting.  In the foreground is Wisconsin Wonder oats (Wisconsin Pedigree No 1), measuring 27.5' x 15'.  To the right and further back is the strip of Haynes Bluestem, now in it's fourth year of growing out.  That plot is 102' x 15', and it has 2013 grams of seed in it (126 lbs/acre).  This was all done with the Earthway.  I could have used the big drill on the 330 to plant the bluestem, but it would require a lot of messing around with the vacuum cleaner and still using the Earthway to fill in at the ends.  I have found that the van brunt drill is not that great when it gets down to the last few seeds--the seeding rate plummets.  So just running the earthway back and forth for 25 minutes is really the best option.

Last year I planted 115 grams of Haynes Bluestem and harvested 2368 grams, almost exactly 20:1.  I hope we can do as well out here--the soil is not quite so good as in my garden.  But 20:1 would yield 80 lbs, which would be pretty nice!  Enough to plant 1/2 acre in 2020.

After planting the Marquis and the small plots for growing out seed, I vacuumed out the wheat seed and filled up the hopper with oats and peas.  I also added some split peas that a supplier was throwing out (all organic btw).  Set the rate to notch 29 and made a few passes on the perimeter of the wheat planting.  I hope to get a summer cover crop in the entire field soon.  But I will have to wait for the wet areas to dry up first.

So the Marquis just went parallel to the winter planting, towards the East.  I basically planted until the slope of the hill got into wetter ground.  This ground was also weedier, because I could not work it well last year.  I stopped at around 95 lbs of seed, which turned out to be 86' of width.  86' x 354.5' = .7 acre.  I was using notch 27, and the planting rate calculates out to 135 lbs/acre.  I would have preferred a little more, around 150/acre.

The Haynes Bluestem, looking west.  The winter wheat is off to the right.

Notch 27 for the Marquis resulted in 135 lbs/acre.



It was 2017 Marquis seed.  I sold every bushed from the 2018 harvest!

I got the tractor stuck after working up the seed bed.  I messed around with some stones and boards, but could not get it to budge.  So I left it for a few hours while I went to plant with the 330.  Later in the day I went back and got it out with the help of a neighbor.  He pulled the drag out of the way with his small utility tractor.  Ultimately, we wrapped a chain around the left tire, attached the chain to a tree, and backed it up until we found solid ground.  What a mess--this is the third time in a year that I've gotten the tractor seriously stuck in this field!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Homestead test plot spring planting

I got some wheat planted in the home test plot.  Soil conditions were not great, but some of the high ground that had been moldboarded last fall was useable.  I just cleaned it up with the wheel hoe and then planted with the earthway seeder.

The strip is 7'4" wide, optimal for covering with bird netting.  I am using 5/8" mesh which mesures 14' x 45'.  So far, this is the best and most durable bird netting I have found (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0016APS14/).  Using my pvc hoops, this net covers 7'4" x 36'.
I harvested very little purplestraw last year, and gave most of it to Jerry Hicks.  I kept back 5gm and put it to the South of the Wisconsin No 5 Oats.


I did not weight the oats, but it was 14' of plot.  The beet plate on the earthway did not work well with oats, so I switched to the bean plate.  I should have rubbed out the oats a bit more to de-beard them a bit and make them feed better.



Early Red Fife is on the "high ground," closest to the garlic.  95 grams into 13'.





From South to North, there is Early Red Fife, Wisconsin No 5 oats, Purplestraw wheat, Champlain wheat, and Progress wheat.  I put in the Champlain and Progress two days later.  Both are ordinary 5gm samples from the USDA.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

February Checkup

I walked the Newman Rd field today.  After a discouraging Fall and Winter it was really nice to see the field.  Despite all the problems last year, we have a good planting and there will be a harvest.  I suspect there will be some bare spots from all the rain and washouts, but there will definitely be a stand of some fantastic and extremely rare heritage wheat.  This field will have the most authentic Turkey Red offered in many years, I believe.

Wisconsin No 2 Turkey Red.  I planted 3/4 of an acre--maybe we can expect 25 bushels at harvest time???!




I don't think this washout is new, it's just the same one that appeared last October.  It will be fine.