Removing Older Hazelnut Trees

I wrote last week about how we planted some new trees to replace some of our oldest orchards. Feel free to catch up by reading….“Replacing Older Hazelnut Trees”.

This week I thought I would show you how we are actually doing that work of tree removal. As farmers we often have a lot of equipment, but we don’t always have the “right equipment” for every job. So what we have in the barn often times changes how we go about a project.

For our farm we have our excavator, bulldozer, and a very hot fire. With these tools we completed this job pretty much done in a few days. I say “pretty much” because the weather turned on us mid-project and we had to take a break to let things dry out a bit.

Here are the very complicated, very long steps of tree removal…
Step 1: Knock the trees over with the bulldozer.
Step 2: Start a very hot fire.
Step 3: Drag the trees to the burn pile.
Step 4: Put the tree on the very hot fire with the excavator.
….and voila!

As you can see the process actually really is very simple. Our goal here is to try to touch the tree as little as possible, because every time we do it costs us money in efficiency loss.

Now if you want to start an actual controversial orchard conversation we can chat about variety to plant, how or when to thin double density plantings, how to prune, or what spacing to plant. But you better have a comfy seat, and a lot of coffee or a lot of beer, because those discussions will take awhile!

Baby Grass Seed Scouting

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in the Willamette Valley! And when you get beautiful days in November it’s usually the best time to go and look to see how the fields are doing.

We have planted a number of perennial ryegrass seed acres this fall, referred to often as “baby fields”. And as my husband Matt likes to say, “Baby perennial ryegrass is always looking for a way to die!” What he means is that when perennial ryegrass is just starting out it makes for a delicious meal for both slugs and geese, and when they attack they can decimate acres and acres in just a few days. So we often go out to make sure as it’s coming up that it’s being protected as best we can.

To tell you the truth as we headed out across the field it didn’t look very good. It just looked like a lot of open soil with no sprout. Which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to get a field to grow.

But we didn’t let it worry us too much. This field wasn’t planted too long ago and we knew that it should just be starting to sprout. So with a closer inspection, this field is actually doing quite well as it just starts to come out of the ground.

That’s what we call the start of being able to “row up” a grass seed planting. And the good news is that while we found a few slugs, the bait that we put out a week ago is still protecting the grass as it sprouts. And as far as geese it didn’t look like they had found it yet, so we will continue to scout for them as they fly over and more than likely also start to spot the rows of tasty grass.

We also saw a lot of worm castings which is a sign of good soil health. You can see in this photo all the small dry bits of soil, that is all from worm activity.

These fields will need to be protected through the winter from the slugs, geese, and kept clean from weeds that will inevitably sprout through the dormant and growing season. Before harvest next July we will be out scouting our acres every few weeks, if not everyday depending on the conditions in the fields. Today was a beautiful day to get this done, I’m sure my rain coat and muck boot wearing days aren’t far away though…this is Oregon after all!

It’s Nut Harvest Time!!

In the times of a pandemic, wildfires, flash floods and distance learning, we are also starting our final harvest of 2020. It is finally time to harvest hazelnuts at Kirsch Family Farms!

The filberts fall naturally from the trees when they are ready to be harvested. This year “naturally” meant they fell due to 50 mile an hour winds during a crazy storm we had a few weeks ago. Which brought wildfires and us being thankful our trees didn’t get burned to the ground.

Which led us to last week when we were thankful that the flash flood that came through skirted mostly to the west of us and didn’t float the nuts down into the drainage ditch. Meanwhile we are thankful that our harvester driver, (ahem…me) is super unreliable due to navigating pick ups and drop offs from 75 different places for my three children with this new “learning” that we’re currently doing because of the pandemic. Hoot our oldest son summed up life very well in this photo which is so far my favorite…I hear ya buddy…right there with ya!!

All dramatics aside, so far this year is looking good for our hazelnuts and we do actually have a ton to be thankful for. As for the rest of it, well…like many of you, we are ready for this year to be over!