Sunday, July 31, 2016

Red Fife Harvest

The Red Fife harvest on the 10th Avenue field was fun and straightforward.  Al brought out his excellent D-17 tractor and the field was finished in 2 hours time.  The refurbished sickle on the combine cut everything down and I just followed the combine around and checked on things.  I did not see any grain going out the back, but the threshing was still so-so.  I intend to lower the drum more next year to get a cleaner sample.  The entire 1.5 acre field filled up the hopper to the top, about 25 bushels.  This is a weak harvest but I was grateful to get this much from the very poor seed I obtained.  Next time I plant I am confident it will be thicker and more productive.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Spring Street Harvest

The Turkey harvest on Spring Street was an epic undertaking.  I started out Monday morning, July 11, with my IH-330 tractor and IH-76 combine.  The tractor immediately started causing trouble and I spent the next few hours doing various attempts at fixing it.  Ultimately it turned out to be a plugged up screen in the carburetor, but of course I did not know that at the time.  It was hot and not much work was done.

My friend Brian very generously showed up with his excellent Ford 800, which we hooked up to my IH-76.  After about 100 feet the pitman broke.  This turned out to be a 24 hour fix as I broke two more and eventually got the cutter bar adjusted well enough to cut wheat and not the pitman.  By the time I had it vaguely working, Ron was finishing up the field on Tuesday morning

Ron had his rig running by Monday afternoon and he got to work around 4 pm and worked until dark.
Ron making the second pass around the field, late on Monday.

One of two pitmans I built int he basement over the course of 24 hours, in addition to patching one of them twice!
Here is the IH-76 discharging the 10 or so bushels it managed to take off the field, in two days of trying.

Brian pulling up with his excellent Ford 800 tractor, to replace my wheezing International 330.  This machine gave excellent service and was well matched to my IH-76 combine.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

To the Rescue

Christin came over and gave me the push I needed to finish harvesting all the test wheat, at least the winter stuff.  She was a BIG help.

This was the major winter wheat patch, where I am comparing three different strains of Turkey Red.  Here are my early observations:

Stephens Turkey:  Taller stalks, more productive.  Standing the best of all three

Heartland Turkey: Shorter stalk, thinner stalk, less productive

Ehmke Turkey: Tall, more uniform than the Stephens, and thicker stalk.

USDA Turkey and Wisconsin No. 2:  Both displayed a red upper stalk prior to harvest, which faded after harvest.  They are both quite tall and seem to be standing better than any of the other Turkeys.

We both posed with the cradle, but we did most of the cutting with knives or a hand sickle.  The cradle was not good at keeping the three varieties separate.

Christin checking out the mysterious red-stemmed Turkey wheats from the USDA small grains collection.

These are the shocks of Turkey Red and Wisconsin No. 2.

Turkey Red Testing

I began harvesting wheat in my test plot on July 2.  There are 6 separate winter wheats on this plot that I am comparing.

The "large" plantings, consisting of three or more full rows, are the three major strains of Turkey Red that I am aware of that are currently being grown and sold as Turkey Red.  I am seeing divergence in the appearance of the wheat at this stage, which is already quite interesting.  Here is what I have noticed so far.

  1. Ehmke Turkey (aka Kansas State, K-State).  This wheat has thicker stalks and is the tallest.
  2. Heartland Turkey--from Heartland Mill, a major modern supplier of Turkey Red flour.  This wheat is shorter and the stalks are not quite as thick.  It is also yielding the least, although this seed is 4 years old.
  3. Stephens Turkey, from the Stephens farm in Kansas.  This seed stock is unfortunately contaminated with rye, which I believe came from a farm in SW Wisconsin or handling at the mill in SW Wisconsin.  This wheat has the greatest variability but it is also producing better than the Heartland.  It is also standing the best, although all three are lodged significantly.

From right to left, 3 rows of "Stephens" Turkey, 3 rows of "Heartland" Turkey, and the remainder is certified Turkey Red from the Ehmke Seed Company.

Here is the biggest surprise so far.  Here are two samples of wheat from the USDA small grains collection.  They are Turkey Red, and Wisconsin No. 2.  Wisconsin No 2 is a selection of Turkey made at the University of Wisconsin in the 'teens.  Both have significant red coloring in the upper stem.  I do not see this red color in any of the modern turkeys.  I will have to do some research to find out why these old Turkey samples have the red coloring.

Here is the sample of Bacska, aka Wisconsin Pedigree No. 408.  I am really excited to grow this out and see what kind of bread it will make.  I may even splurge and taste some of the kernels once it has finished drying down.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Walter Jones Update

I finally got  in touch with Edgar at the lab in Madison.  It's a bust!  He told me that the wheat seed looked very good to him and he thought it would germinate.  After his attempts failed, he gave samples to all of his grad students, who also did not get any seeds to germinate.  The weed seeds also failed to germinate, which was a surprise to me.  Edgar asked if he could send his remaining seeds to a lab in Florida that he says has more expertise in germinating.  So there is still a slim hope....