Hazelnut Harvest & a New Harvester (for a day)

17 Oct final-9

Well we got all our filberts (hazelnuts) in before the monsoon weather hit this past weekend.  It was a good reminder that not all harvests go as smoothly as they have the past three years with only dust to complain about…mud is much worse!  But we got all of our orchards picked up twice, so I’m not complaining one bit!

The process of harvesting is no small task.  You have to first wait for the nuts to fall on the ground naturally (no tree shaking around here).  Once down a sweeper goes up and down each row twice.  It sweeps the nuts into the center of the trees one way and blows the nuts out from under the tree the other way, making a windrow between the trees.  

A harvester pulled by a tractor then strattles that windrow, and using a belt pick up system, the nuts are pulled off the ground into the harvester. 

The nuts are then go over a dirt chain to let dirt fall through the cracks, through a fan that sucks out leaves and blank shells, then finally into a dump cart. 

We then unload the dump cart into totes to be taken to the truck loading area.  

Hazelnut Cart Unloading 2016

The full totes are then lifted into the truck and dumped, using a hyster with rotator forks.  

After they leave our farm the hazelnuts are washed and dried at a processor.  This is done in 8 days or less so as to avoid any mold growing.  Once the nuts are dried, they are preserved and can be bagged for storage.

Like I said, harvest went well for us this year, but it’s always interesting to see what is new out in the world for harvesting equipment.  So when I was asked if we would be interested in trying out a new all in one harvester the answer was simple. 

The next day Pape Machinery brought over a Monchiero Harvester.  We were pretty excited to try it, mostly because it takes the multitude of steps I described above to get the nuts from the field to the truck, and shrinks them into an all in one machine!

This harvester sweeps and harvests, and once we got it all set right, it did an excellent job!

Here are a few photos I took of the machine in action, along with a video.  

Monchiero Harvester 2016

Monchiero Harvester Unloading 2016

One big upside I can see to having a machine like this is the ability to just go and start harvesting.  There is no waiting around for a sweeper to get an orchard prepared, no hesitation about how many rows you should sweep ahead of the harvester, it just takes a lot of the second guessing out of harvest.  If you get a window, it would only take you and one other worker to get the job accomplished.  Today on our farm it’s a 4 man job to get our harvest done, taking valuable time away from other fall work like planting and soil preparations.

A big thank you to Pape Machinery for bringing out such a great machine to help us finish up our harvest!

For more hazelnut harvest photos and videos check out some of my past posts. 

Crop #12, Poplar Trees

3 Oct final

The 12th crop on our farm this year, is one we have never had before!  Well more accurately we have been growing this particular crop for years, some of the trees are just about old enough that I hardly remember what the fields looked like without them. It’s only 8 acres of trees, but planted on a 10×10 grid, once the project is done we will have moved just under 3500 trees off the farm!  Which, let me tell you, is no small process!!  Thankfully we were lucky to get Pihl Logging in for the project, they make it look easy!

finalAfter making the decision to cut down the trees, I’ll admit I couldn’t get visions of the movie “The Lorax” out of my head.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s a Disney animated movie (story of which was originally written by Dr. Seuss) where the whole world basically gets logged and there was nothing left, it was a huge mistake, someone had to stop them…it makes loggers look awful to say the least.  So I took a step back and really thought about what we were going to do and why, and I realized something very important.  I am not living a fairy tale not do I operate our farm in a Disney movie.  I farm and take care of our land in the real world.  The real world that comes with real dirt, real crops (even trees) that need to be harvested, real pests, and real decisions that have to be made now to make our farm sustain into the future.


final-1Hoot even got to take a ride!

So why did we cut down these beautiful trees?  We logged the trees because when they were planted around 15-20 years ago in different blocks, they were planted mostly as erosion control in some very wet, unfarmable ground.  As they have grown, and wow do they grow, they have started to make a large portion of our good farm ground unfarmable as well.  This is because, in part they shade the hillside that goes up against them, and they also shed their leaves every year smothering crops that we have planted there.  For years we have fought the leaves and shade, which seems to only leave room for weeds to prosper and thereby hurting our crop that we are trying to grow.  It was time to harvest this crop of poplars!

final-3final-1So we finally made the decision that the trees were big enough to cut down and send to the pulp mill.  These trees will go to make products like toilet paper, notebook paper, newspaper….you get the point here!  It was also a timing decision based on where that particular field was in our crop rotation.  We plan to no till plant spring wheat into the field this spring.  This gives us plenty of time to get log trucks in, loaded on solid ground, and off to the mill with as least amount of damage to the soil as possible.  Please don’t ask us what we are going to do with the thousands of stumps we have left sitting there, that is going to be a whole other blog post someday.final

Here are a few videos…

So there is my real life, not fairly tale depiction of our 12th crop, poplar trees!  Decisions of how to best take care of the land are hard thought with complicated issues such as timing and  lot of pros and cons.  I look forward to taking care of this wet ground, I look forward to farming our good soil better, and I look forward to the next crop of poplars…of which I’m guessing the 4th generation will get to take care of.

Good Morning

9 Sep

It’s been busy around here lately. Making the change from harvesting crops to getting the ground ready for planting for another year makes this season of farming extremely busy, many times frantic, and sometimes peaceful. 

Here’s what the start to my day looked like. Out moving irrigation in a grass seed field on a fine crispy September morning. It was peaceful; I know it won’t last because even a farmer can stay out and hide in a field all day!  But at least for a few early minutes I enjoyed it!  Happy Friday!!

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