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Looking for Weeds in an 8ft Tall Crop

25 Jun

One of the crops on our farm is Swiss chard for seed.  This year we are growing a green variety, and it has decided to grow well over 8 feet tall!!  We are also growing a field of radish seed right next door, which in most cases wouldn’t really be a problem.  However, this year we noticed that there were a few stray radish plants in our Swiss chard field.

This becomes an issue of variety purity.  Radish is pollinated by bees, so we have to get the wild (or off type) radish plants out of the Swiss chard before the bees went and hung out on those flowers and then possibly went to our production radish field and pollinated with the wrong variety of pollen.  It’s one of those fun “we love being seed farmers” type of things!

So how does one go and find radish in a field that is…well…quite a few feet taller than I am?!  Farmers are problem solvers, and Matt had an idea that maybe if we got high enough we could have a better vantage point to see down into the stalks of Swiss chard.  This field was planted with alleyways to help us better manage the crop as it grows to full height, so we decided to drive each of those two times to get a good view of the whole field.  So we hooked up the man basket to the loader tractor and headed out to the field.  Once there Matt climbed up into the man basket, I took the wheel of the John Deere, hoisted him up, and we were off.

And it basically went like this… I would drive each alleyway once per side, always too slow or too fast.  While shifting I would (maybe) make Matt’s heart beat a little faster as he “hung on for dear life” (his words not mine).  Then every once and awhile he would holler and point to some area in the field.  I would jump off the tractor into the jungle, instantly engulfed in stalks of chard, while he “navigated” me through the crop to the off type radish so I could pull it out.

Navigating Skills were as follows (at full volume to be heard over the tractor engine mind you):
“LEFT, NO YOUR OTHER LEFT.”
“MAYBE WE SHOULD USE NORTH AND SOUTH AS DIRECTIONS?”
“BRENDA…NORTH IS THE OTHER WAY!” 
“WHERE ARE YOU GOING??” 
“YOU PASSED IT….”
“TURN AROUND.  OK. TURN AROUND AGAIN.”

“DO YOU EVEN SEE IT?” 
“IT’S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!”
“HOW DO YOU NOT SEE IT?”

I won’t tell you what my equally witty responses were, if you know me, I’m sure you can make your own assumptions (haha!)

We didn’t find too many, but it was important that we found the few and and got rid of them to keep the purity of the radish variety.  Growing crops for seed can be tricky sometimes, there is a lot of high risk and high reward moments; and also moments that make you stop and think, “So how the heck are we going to do that??”  Like when you’re staring at an 8 foot tall jungle of Swiss chard, knowing that you need to get in there and look for tiny white flowers.

This crop will be ready to harvest later this summer.  The seed is used to grow Swiss chard for mixed green salad mixes.

FarmHer April 12th, 6:30pm

8 Apr

Hey everyone, some exciting news!  Last fall I hosted the FarmHer team out on the farm and the episode they filmed will be airing this coming Friday April 12th, 6:30pm! Below is the press release from the FarmHer team….

FarmHer Follows Women in Agriculture from Washington to Louisiana in the 2nd Half of Season Three

(NASHVILLE, TENN. — Apr. 5, 2019) FarmHer is back with new episodes on RFD-TV.
Meet a helicopter pilot who crafts Artisan cheeses, head to the hops capital of the U.S. and witness a woman who thought she would never walk again, ranch with all her might. The network’s original series highlights another powerful group of women in its
3rd season with host Marji Guyler-Alaniz at the helm. FarmHer airs Fridays at 9:30 p.m. EST on RFD-TV.

Season 3: Episodes 19: Oregon FarmHer Harvests Piles of Grass Seed & Hazelnuts
Friday, April 12, 2019 at 9:30 p.m. ET
When dust settles on Brenda Frketich’s farm, there are piles of hazelnuts. Take in this year’s harvest in Oregon while learning about another top Pacific Northwest crop: turfgrass.

Here are also a few sneak peak videos to check out while you’re anxiously (at least I am anxious) waiting for the episode this Friday.

We had a wonderful time showing this great crew around the farm here in St. Paul.  I have always said that our doors are always open and this was a wonderful way to bring the farm into living rooms across the US.  It airs on RFDTV, click the link below to find that channel in your area!
http://www.rfdtv.com/link/649370/find-us-in-your-area

Don’t have RFD-TV?  No problem…..
On demand service can be found a bunch of different ways including Roku and Amazon Fire. The apps are either “RFD Country Club” or “Rural TV”.

Some of those apps allow you to sign up for a specific category “Rural Lifestyle” for just $2.99 a month and that’s where you can find FarmHer. You can cancel anytime.

Or you can sign up for full on demand service RFD-TV Country Club at rfdcc.com. It has a monthly fee, but with no contract, so you can cancel anytime.

Questions….as always, just ask!!

 

The Transition Period: From One Crop Year to the Next

29 Aug

Being a diversified farm, like many in the Willamette Valley, usually means that this time of year you’re in a fairly steady pace of transition.

It’s the clash between crop year 2018 and 2019 which often looks like a lot of open dirt fields, a lot of dust, and a few crops left to pickup.

We have crops that have been harvested, fields that have been worked down ready to be planted, crops that are just starting to mature and some that we won’t even look at harvesting for another month or more.

This field is ready to be planted to tall fescue. Tall fescue is perennial so we will hopefully leave this field in for many years, meaning this will be the last time we have to work the ground and have open soil here for years to come.

It’s one of the reasons that I refer to this “season” of farming as triage. Everyday is different. Everyday is a look at the weather, check the fields, look at the soil, make a plan kind of day. Rarely is there an autopilot project, which makes management this time of year tiring and stressful.

Fields for grass seed planting this fall need a seed bed that is smooth as a dance floor. We have worked this soil about 7 times to get the field worked down to be ready to plant. There was also a ton of organic matter from the clover last year that has been worked into the top soil.

Today Matt and I are out in the orchards picking up drip tube from our hazelnut trees. These will be harvested around the end of September through October. The water on the squash has also been turned off and now we wait for the drying down to begin before they come get the seeds. And finally radish seed just got harvested yesterday and will head to the cleaner today.

Then more ground work and tractor time, more planting and prepping to start this whole crazy life of farming again for another year! This year has proven so far to be pretty good, hoping that trend continues as we close the books on 2018.

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