Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Historical Grain Research Harvest

The wheat from my test plot was harvested in late June (winter wheats) and mid-July for the spring wheats.  The photos below show the grain after threshing and cleaning.  To conserve the small amount of grain, the threshing was done by hand with a steel mesh screen on a counter top, and I cleaned it in front of a fan.  I wish I had thought to take the photos with a constant scale, but I think you can still get a feel for the differences.

These wheat varieties were grown out from the very small samples (about 120 seeds) that the two seed banks released to me.  The germination was fair to poor, so some of the varieties barely broke even the first year.  But as I grow them out I hope to get 20:1 or better and build up the supply to marketable quantities in the next 3 years.  The 2016 planting, already in the ground as of September 20, comprises a strip in the garden 4' wide and 120' long.  I think it will require a full 1/4 acre to plant the yield from that test plot in the Fall of 2017.  That 2017 test plot, which I think I will plant on Ron's Spring Street field, should yield several bushels for harvest in the summer of 2018.  At that point, I will have enough to run some baking tests and decide what to plant for the 2019 harvest.  That's the plan, anyway!

The Bacska from the Australian Winter Cereals Collection is rock hard and dark brown, but it was grown in pure compost so that may have contributed to the dark color.  It appears to very high in protein.  It was grown in compost due to USDA quarantine requirements.

Aussie Bacska
The Bacska from the USDA Small Grains collection was grown in the garden and does not look as good as the Aussie stuff.  Both of these grains have already been planted in my 2016-17 winter test plot.
USDA Bacska
Haynes Bluestem is a bluestem wheat common to Wisconsin.  Bluestems were big prior to the introduction of Red Fife and then Marquis.  I am very excited to grow this one out.  Unfortunately, the first year yield was not so great and it will take some time to grow it out.  But it looks fantastic--rock hard and fairly plump.

Haynes Bluestem
Wisconsin Pedigree No. 2 is a selection of Turkey Red suited for Wisconsin,  The pedigree was developed by the University of Wisconsin in the 1910's.  Both Pedigree No. 2 and the USDA Turkey Red developed striking red stems as they ripened in late June.

Wisconsin Pedigree No. 2
Prelude is another spring wheat that predates Red Fife.  The yield was very low and I don't know how much effort I will put into growing it out.

Last shot is the Turkey Red from the USDA collection.  It yielded the most, probably just due to the seed quality.  I am not too interested in growing this out, since I think the future is in Pedigree No. 2 and Bacska.  But I will conserve the seed and grow it out for another season or two.

Turkey Red from USDA small grains collection

Thursday, August 18, 2016


With the addition of my homemade debearder, my wheat cleaning setup is now officially the most complicated thing on the farm.  But it works!  I'm actually making the cleanest wheat yet with this arrangement.

Not shown here is the dust collection hood I added after the first run.  I built a wooden shroud over the discharge and ran it outside to a dust control blower.  This really helped pull a lot of dust off the grain and make the final product even cleaner.  For my product, at least, I don't think the debearder should be run without the dust collector.

Processing shocks

I've been going through the bundles of test wheat veeeeery slowly over the last week, hand threshing and cleaning the wheat seed.  The Haynes bluestem and Bacska both look amazing--hard, brown, plump berries.  Too bad that only a small part of the Haynes seed germinated, so I think it will be 4 years before I have enough to market.  But the Bacska was prolific and I may have enough to sell in another two seasons.  At any rate, I can't wait!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Buckwheat planting

The frost seeded red clover did not take very well this year and Ron suggested that the 3 acres on Spring Street be worked up and planted to buckwheat.  The timing was perfect and a good rain on Friday August 12 really put this planting to bed.  It will be interesting to see how well it works.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Marquis Harvest

The Marquis harvest started on July 28, but the moisture level was coming out pretty high, around 17%.  When it did not dry down, we stopped and put all the grain into my small grain dryer.

By August 1 it was reliably coming out at 13-14%, close enough so that aeration could be counted on to finish it off.  So Ron got the field cleaned up and the Marquis was safely in the shed after a couple of hours.  After cleaning and bagging, this 2 acre field produced about 34 bushels of wheat.  I intend to plant thicker next time--we drilled in 2 bushels per acre, and from looking at the stand it appeared there was room for more plants.  Try 2 1/2 next time for sure.  This was also a very late planting and I expect this reduced the harvest as well.