It was a big week for fall planting, with the majority of the fall-planted crops going into the ground.
I’ve written before about the challenges around a successful planting season – from weather uncertainty, to seed issues, to tractor and equipment problems. It is a production.
This year has been especially challenging with the drought. It has been an unseasonably warm and dry autumn. The soil is very dry, and it has only rained a fraction of the amount it normally does this time of year. So every drop counts.
A couple of weeks ago it rained, and it’s supposed to rain again next week, so last week was the window to get the bulk of fall planting done.
I plant a few different varieties of hard and soft winter wheat, and this year I was able to get ahold of some very sought-after heirloom wheat seed.
The variety is an heirloom variety that is increasingly used to make pasta through artisan – instead of industrial – processes.
Agronomically, the variety yields less. The plant is also taller than normal wheat, so it risks falling down before harvest, but the wheat has a lower gluten content and is preferred for pasta-making.
Obtaining the seed was nothing short of an adventure because it is not easily available.
I’m excited to see how the variety develops and what the pasta tastes like….
Working with a Custom Planter
I’ve also made some big changes to the organization and logistics of this year’s fall planting.
The drought we went through this year magnified all of the farm’s production weaknesses, including fall planting. Our planter is very old and has lost its efficacy.
The planter doesn’t effectively bury the seed in the soil and with limited water and humidity, the seed depth makes a huge difference in whether a seed germinates and grows.
We are also slow at planting; an issue that with increased weather variability creates big disadvantages. When it is time to plant, it is time to plant – now.
So, I am working this year with a custom planting operation run by a neighbor nearby. He has a squad of modern tractors and equipment, and he and his team come for a few days, prep the seed beds, and get the seeds in the ground.
It is quite the operation.
Crossing My Fingers for Rain
With the seeds in the ground, I am hoping for rain. We should be getting some storms coming through the area next week.
The Soft Winter Wheat Germinates!
With the ground very dry but before the first substantive rains a couple of weeks ago, we planted our soft winter wheat.
I am happy to report that the soft winter wheat has germinated. It looks like peach fuzz on the fields.
— Ariane Lotti