I often think in the back of my head that as farmers we really are never doing things the way that we have always done them, mostly because I’m constantly reminded when I talk to non-farmers that is what they assume. I’ve written before about how farmers are always “Doing what we’ve always done – NOPE!”. Last week I had the privilege of attending a grass seed research roundtable at Oregon State University. This is the first year that one has been held here in Oregon specific to grass seed. The room was full with over 30 stakeholders and another dozen or so logged in through zoom. Another reminder to me about how forward thinking and solution oriented this industry here in Oregon continues to be; which I love!
If we’re honest I think we can agree that research isn’t the most riveting topic most time, but the set up of this roundtable allowed us all to hear a summary from the researchers, limited to 10 minutes; enough time to summarize but not get too deep in the weeds of research which can put even the most nerdy farmer asleep (no offense to those in research). Which was followed up by 5 minutes for questions from producers, seed dealers, field-men, and other researchers.
Topics included many of the pests that we are constantly battling in the field and other challenges that we face as producers and as an industry as a whole. Voles, billbugs, symphylans (research to help off set the gap in control that the Lorsban/chlorpyrifos ban left us with), DNA testing for seed, field residue and pre-emergent sprays, optical seed sorting, weed management and smart sprayers, crop stand longevity, straw management and what that means for our soil and carbon sequestration, nitrogen leaching potential, and on and on.
They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. It’s no different in the farming world. Sitting there last week was a continuous reminder that our industry is always changing, adapting and finding solutions. As a solution oriented person both in my personal life and in my farming life, this was all very exciting to me.
Now comes the tough part of ranking them all for funding; research doesn’t come free but the knowledge that we will gain from these trials will pay time and time again for this industry here in Oregon. Last week was just another reason I’m proud to be a grass seed producer here in Oregon.
Matt and I got away for a few days down to Mexico to find some sunshine and celebrate our 10 year anniversary. Meanwhile I had scheduled a post on here to show the “one time” “rare” “usually doesn’t happen” snow and well, I may have jinxed this whole spring time showing up in Oregon. Whoopsie!
Because you see I had planned to come home from our trip, go look at fields and show pictures of how spring is now in Oregon and the crops are finally growing. Unfortunately, we forgot to bring any sunshine home with us and now we wake up this morning to this!
So I guess it turns out it’s still winter here and while growing degree days (a way that we gauge soil temperature and crop readiness) warrants a start to spring fertilizer on our grass seed crops, and while we did get a little on before we left, Mother Nature had other plans for this week and we will have to wait a little while longer to finish up our first shot of spring fertilizer to get things up and growing. However I will say I feel lucky that we aren’t measuring our snow in feet like other places right now!
So there we are, enjoying 80 degree sunny weather on a beach with a drink in our hands that may or may not be called a mojito; and all the sudden I start to get texts and calls from the school. Delays, school cancelled, delays, I looked at Matt and said, “Well maybe it’s good we left when we did, not much to do at home anyway in the ice and snow!” Now all I think is maybe we should have stayed longer!
Stay tuned….I am sure, I am certain, I am positive….the crops will start growing soon and you’ll get some crop updates, until then I’m going to drink more coffee and warm up!
We didn’t have much crimson clover this year, 42 acres. So this two day harvesting job was going to be a breeze. And the way that you can tell you’re a farmer right now is if you read that and started to giggle, because there is little about harvest of any crop that ever turns out to be a “breeze”. This year our crimson crop was no different.
It started out great. Round 1 around the field was was dull at best. But then came round 2 and some surprise “slugs” that were left behind from the swather. When you cut (or swath) it’s usually at night when there is more moisture. Great to keep the seed on the stem of the crop before you harvest it, but if the cutter gets plugged it causes a huge dense wet area that will rarely dry out on its own.
So as we started in round two of the field the growling and terrible noises coming from inside the harvester were hard to ignore. After a few plugs that caused us all want to itch our skin off (unplugging a clover harvester is dusty and dirty and super itchy), we decided to skip those areas and come back to pitchfork them out to help get the drying process started.
But then the wind started to blow the exact direction we were headed on one side. And for 1500 feet we could see nothing, nada, zilch. The best (worst) part was that it was also the side of the field that had all those surprise slugs. I’ve never paid so much attention to combining in my life! It was unnerving.
So move to day two and all is looking good. Until I jumped out to check the sieves (cleaning area) at the back of the combine and smelled smoke! A bearing had gotten packed with dust and caused so much friction that it actually ignited. Crimson dust is especially flammable. Then when we had made the corner, the smoldering dust on the back of the harvester had shifted onto the ground and started the stumble on fire.
We caught it early. Had a water tank all ready to go, got the fire out and all was fine. Just a few new bearings later and we were back at it. So while it only added a day or so to our harvest, I think we are all a little glad to be saying goodbye to the extremely dusty, itchy and challenging year of harvesting crimson clover! Next up, grass seed harvest!!