Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Planting "naked" oats

Over the last 3 days we planted about 48 acres of "naked" or hull-less oats. Oats are a huge staple and are in high demand locally. Most oats have a hull that must be removed before rolling. Once the hull is removed the oats begin to go rancid unless they are toasted or steamed. The de-hulling and toasting of the oats requires specialized machinery that only a few companies in Oregon possess. One company is Grain Millers out of Eugene. They are very large and can handle lots of volume, unfortunately they can't process "on spec." Basically that means they can't contract process. Once we deliver the oats that's it, they are mixed in with their other oats and we get the standard price per ton, which at 160-170 dollars is pretty low. We started looking around for other options and heard about hull-less oats from another grower. The advantage of hull-less oats is that they have no hull, so require less processing. They do not go rancid once rolled, or so I'm told. This eliminates a lot of steps in the processing chain. We know a small processor that can handle the rolling of the oats, which is great because that allows us to market them locally for a better price. We started looking around for the seed stock and found that hull-less oats are hard to find in quantity. We ordered about 10,000 pounds and split them with another grower. We think this variety, being from another region, will need a season or two of acclimatizing before we get decent yields. We planted our 48 acres at around 115 pounds per acre. We have no idea what they will yield. These oats have a lot of potential, and we are looking forward to watching them grow.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More photos of crop progress

These are pictures of the flax fields and one of the hard red wheat fields. The flax is sprouting already after only being in the ground for 3 days. Michael is standing in the middle of one of our flax fields. Behind him the green hill is one of the hard red wheat fields. I am standing at the top of the hill in the hard red wheat with the flax fields at the bottom of the hill behind me. The hard red is about one month old.

Pictures of the crops' progress

Here are photos of the crops and their progress. The soft white winter wheat planted last october/november is doing excellent. It is almost chest high and the seed heads are coming up quickly. It is surprising how well it is doing considering it has had no chemicals of any kind applied to it. There are very few weeds in the field, only some orchardgrass, ryegrass, and a little brome. The sunflowers I planted last Sunday have sprouted and look like they will do very well. Michael is kneeling between the rows in the field.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Flax planting.

Last week we planted 35 acres of brown flax. We are growing it transitionally, and will also have another 15 acres of organic flax that is going in soon. Much of the flax is being sold as whole seed for food. Some flax is grown for oil, some for fiber, but the variety we are growing is an excellent food seed. The organic seed stock arrived from California last month, and we have been waiting until the wheat and oats were in before we planted the flax. Hopefully it will yield around 1500 pounds per acre. Organic flax is fairly valuable, but the transitional must be marketed properly to find a good price. There are buyers out there willing to pay a premium for locally grown flax, even if its not organic. Since there are very few flax growers in the Willamette Valley its hard for local bakeries to find local flax. I think that we will be the second largest flax grower in the valley after Shawn Caid's Shekina Farm, which is growing around 50-60 acres of brown flax I believe. Flax has so many potential uses that we are excited about seeing how well it does on our farm.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Planting sunflowers

Yesterday I planted 1 acre of mammoth grey stripe sunflowers. The area I planted is right by a few of the houses on the farm. They should look great once they start getting tall. I planted about 20-25 pounds of seed in rows about 2 feet apart. I used a small push-planter that my friend Jason Bradford lent me. It can hold about a pound of seed. It drops the seed in a row at around one seed every inch, and about half an inch deep. Once they get about a foot tall I will start to thin them out. If we don't thin them they will compete with each other pretty heavily. This variety can get up to around 10-12 feet tall! The heads are tremendous and should yield lots of seed. We have been told by several people that birds will be a huge problem, so we plan to put up a large amount of netting to keep them off. I'll keep posting photos of the sunflowers as they grow. The photo I'm posting here of the sunflower is what they look like once fully grown. The other photos are of the planter I used and the field I planted in.