Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I regret to inform you...

That A2R Farms has been sold. There is still much to work out, and we don't know what the nature of the new farm or our relationship to it will be. This is the reason for my lack of blog posts over the last few months. I would like to continue this blog in some way moving forward, perhaps as an outlet of information for our company Willamette Seed & Grain. I will provide an update once we know more about the new situation. Thank you all for your readership and support over the past year or two.

-Clint Lindsey

Monday, August 22, 2011

Garbanzo Beans combined

Last week we threshed our crop of garbanzo beans from last year. I know, a long time from harvest to threshing, but this is a totally new thing for us. We used Harry MacCormack's JD 40 combine. Thanks Harry! We ended up with about 2-300 pounds of beans. There are still some stems in the beans. Hopefully we can clean those out with a gravity table. We just tossed huge bundles of the stalks into the header on the combine. The whole process took less than half an hour. Not the most efficient way to harvest garbanzo beans. Hopefully in the future we can combine them directly in the field.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A2R is unable to participate in the Bounty of Benton County Tour

Due to circumstances beyond our control, A2R Farms is regrettably unable to participate in the Bounty of Benton County tour. We apologize for this as we know we are already on the passports. We hope to participate in the tour next year. Thank you!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Final stretch of harvest.

The next week or so should see us finishing up the harvest for this year. Due to the late, wet spring, the flax and oats are taking longer to dry down. We tried combining the flax yesterday, but the moisture was up around 17 percent. Not good for combining. The oats are also largely green. Instead of combining them standing we are windrowing them so they can dry down faster. The oats are probably our best crop this year. They seem to tolerate the wetter springs fairly well. The weeds have not been a big problem in the oats this year either. Not so with the flax. Our biggest flax field has large sections that are chock full of Queen Anne's Lace. The wheat was largely devastated by stripe rust and other fungal diseases. We have a small amount fit for human consumption, but most of our wheat will have to go for animal feed. One of the biggest things we can do to ensure a better yield is regular applications of lime. This is a prime example of what short-term compromise for cash flow costs in the long run.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Untimely Rain...

We have been getting a huge amount of rain for this time of year. We have fields that have been cut that are getting soaked now. I spent the whole morning turning over piles of grass and rows to help dry the grass out, only to have it start raining again as soon as I finished. If this keeps up the grass will start to rot in the field. Bad news...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Harvest is ongoing...

Hello everyone, sorry I have not made any posts for quite some time. We are in the thick of the grass-seed harvest right now. There are several subjects I would like to talk about at length, but now I can't give it the time it deserves. As soon as we get a break I will post my thoughts on several topics that are heavily influencing the way we farm right now. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spring planting complete

We have finished our spring planting. We managed to squeeze in planting in between rainy spells, and now have all the oats, flax, and wheat planted for the year. We ended up planting roughly the same acreage of oats as last year. We increased our flax acreage slightly from last year. We have less red wheat than last year due to the requirements of our crop rotation. We have decided to let several fields lay fallow for the summer so we can let the ground rest and get rid of a rather large weed problem in a few pieces. This season is shaping up to be much like last year, which was a long wet spring that prevented us from planting as early as we would have liked. The longer we have to wait to plant, the lower our yields will be. We may need to look for shorter-season varieties to ensure that we get maximum yields despite the poor spring weather. It's a work-in-progress.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Benefits of winter legume cover cropping

We have started to till up the fields planted last fall with winter peas. The peas have developed a significant amount of root nodules as far as I can see. The presence of root nodules indicates a healthy amount of nitrogen fixation going on. This is the main benefit of cover-cropping with legumes. It reduces our need for additional nitrogen as a fertilizer. We hope to dramatically increase our usage of winter legumes as a cover crop in the future. They also help crowd out weeds and prevent the need for multiple passes with a tractor in the spring to kill weed sprout mechanically. Now if we can just find a reliable source of organic seed!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring planting update

We have been planting oats and flax over the past week or so. It has been tricky to find windows of good weather that allow us to actually get on the field without tearing it up. We managed to get about 20 acres of flax and 20 or so acres of oats in the ground so far. We have a long way to go. This is starting to look like a repeat of last year. A long, wet spring does us no good. I need to go spray compost tea on the fields I've planted this spring, but various mechanical problems with trucks are making that impossible. I can't use the 3-wheel buggy to spray the fields...too wet, and I need to take the tube buggy on a trailer to the field. Okay, that's fine, but the tube buggy only holds 200 gallons of liquid. The truck with the holding tank has bad brakes right now so we are delayed.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

We are pleased to announce the formation of Willamette Seed & Grain

Willamette Seed & Grain (WSG)is a partnership between A2R and several other local farms including Stalford Seed Farms and Sunbow Farm that is designed to help fill the gap in the local food supply chain by providing seed cleaning and processing for local grains, beans, and edible seeds. WSG has several certified organic seed cleaning facilities, as well as 2 grain mills either operating now or under construction. We also have the capacity to roll oats. Check out the WSG website at www.willametteseedandgrain.com for more information. This is a huge step forward for the local food system in the Mid-Valley. Thank you to all of the members of WSG for your hard work in the last 6 months!

Friday, April 1, 2011

A2R Farms featured in The Oregonian

The Oregonian did a feature on us about our flax. Flax is getting a lot of interest up and down the valley. Thanks to Brent and Eric from The Oregonian for a great piece. Click the title of this post to link to the video.

Compost tea going on the fields...

We've been spraying compost tea and fish fertilizer on the fields for the past week or so. We are better set up this year to crank out back-to-back batches than we were last year. We have the holding tank which we put a finished batch in as soon as it is done. This allows us to get another batch brewing right away. Or at least when the tank is done filling, which takes 4-6 hours. We also have several pre-treatment bins for treating the compost with fish and humic acid for 3 days prior to brewing. This activates more fungi in the compost. We also have a large tote of fish set up right next to the brewer. This is great because now we can just pump large amounts into the spray buggy instead of pouring bucket load after bucket load out of small jugs. That was no fun lemme tell ya. I am really excited about the tea this year. I can't wait to see the results of using several applications of fish as well as tea on the crops. The rate of application is roughly 16 gallons per acre of the tea/fish mixture. The fish is going on at roughly 2 gallons per acre.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rain, rain, rain... and other spring notes.

So it looks as though the rain won't give us a window to get some work done anytime soon. The spring work is piling up. I have lots of acres to plant and lots of compost tea to spray, and the forecast does not look good. I tried looking at a field yesterday and got stuck in mud on the road on the way in! I wasn't even close to the field. Not a good sign. On a positive note, the peas and wheat seem to be coming along fairly well. The flax I planted last fall is looking buried by ryegrass. Fall planted flax may not work out so well in fields that have had grass in them. We still plan to plant 40 more acres of flax this year. OSU has asked us to try a new variety this year. They are interested in getting yield data and want to be here for planting and harvest.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A2R Farms is now Food Alliance certified

We have recently acquired Food Alliance certification on most of our crops. From the FA website, "Food Alliance provides comprehensive third-party certification for social and environmental responsibility in agriculture and the food industry.

Today, there are more than 320 Food Alliance Certified operations, and over six million acres managed by Food Alliance Certified producers throughout North America.

Food Alliance Certified products include meats, eggs, dairy, mushrooms, grains, legumes, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and prepared products made with these certified ingredients.

With clear standards and criteria, Food Alliance certification is a practical, credible, and effective way for farmers, ranchers, and food companies to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability in agricultural practices and facilities management."

One benefit to us is that we will be able to more easily market our transitional crops for a premium. One of the biggest challenges we have faced during our transition to organic has been the ability to get a good price for transitional or "no-spray" crops. The three year period of transition to organic is fraught with difficulties, to say the least, and having a well-known and respected company like Food Alliance standing behind our product helps set us apart. To read more about Food Alliance and their certification criteria visit www.foodalliance.org.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Planting Hard Red Wheat

We have begun planting hard red wheat. This is much earlier than we were able to plant last year. We have had a long window of dry weather which allowed us to work the soil and get quite a bit done. I planted about 23 acres of red wheat last Saturday. The fields had flax on them last year. We will spray them with compost tea as soon as we have another dry spell. Hopefully that will be in a week or so.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Breaking ground...spring work has begun.

Since we are having an unusually long stretch of dry weather here in late January and early February we are about to start tearing up some ground to get ready for planting. We have lots of beans, oats, flax, and wheat to plant. The wheat will go in first, then we'll play it by ear for the other crops. I also need to get the compost tea brewer going again soon as we will be spraying lots of tea on the fields this spring. The push is to get everything in as early as possible this year. Last year was tough for a lot of crops because we couldn't get them in the ground as early as we should due to the long wet spring. Hopefully this year we will get much better yields from the spring crops.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Video on the Southern Willamette Valley Bean & Grain Project posted.

I posted a short video by Erik Silverberg on the Bean and Grain Project on the blog. It's the youtube window below the main picture. Erik did a great job! This sums up very nicely what we are working on here in the Valley. Thanks Erik.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Winter 2011: Thoughts for the coming year and beyond.

Well it's the middle of winter here in the valley. Not much to do in the fields so my day revolves around phone calls and paperwork. Organic certification paperwork is due this month. Oregon Tilth is going to a web-based system for record-keeping. Good news for those of us who don't relish the idea of a large renewal application to fill out each year. We have also applied for certification from Food Alliance. Food Alliance certifies a farm based on its use of sustainable farming practices. You can read about their criteria here. http://foodalliance.org/ This will help us market our transitional crop until we are certified organic. Marketing transitional crops for a premium is challenging. I saw that Grand Central Baking in Portland had started getting all their wheat from Shepherd's Grain in Washington. SG is a co-op of growers who are all Food Alliance certified. I researched Food Alliance after I read that article and decided to apply. We have also spoken to Oregon Kosher about getting certified. NatureBake has asked us to look into kosher certification. This year we have several big challenges facing us. We still have a lot of processing equipment that we will need if we want to grow crops such as sunflowers. We have no drying and de-hulling equipment right now. We also need a reliable bean sheller to handle garbanzo beans. This is big because growing garbanzos will provide us with the all-important legume for our rotation. I can't overstate the importance of a legume in the crop rotation. We need something that won't just fix nitrogen, but will yield and pay well in its own right. We also need oat processing equipment. Without a good roller that will handle a few hundred pounds an hour we won't be able to fill large orders for rolled oats. Rolled oats are very much in demand so this is important. Trucking pallets of oats around the valley to be processed does not appeal to us, and it eats heavily into our margin. One of the most important pieces of equipment for our cleaning operation is a gravity table. We have recently acquired one, but are still waiting for its auxiliary equipment such as feeder hopper and piping to be fabricated. Having all the equipment to handle these processes is vital to our operation. Without them it is very difficult to provide the finished product in large amounts that the valley demands. We have some very big news coming shortly. I can't spill the beans yet, but it will be huge!