Monday, May 27, 2013

Backyard Wheat

Our control crop of Glenn, planted in backyard pots, is finally mature.

A couple of dozen plants were harvested today.  Threshing and winnowing by hand yielded more than ten kernels per seed head, for a total of three teaspoons of very fresh wheat berries.  Our kernels are a little smaller than the original Glenn seed.    Today's reaping is about 20% of our backyard crop.

Having computed the area of the wheat pots to be about one-ten-thousandth of an acre, this represents the equivalent of more than 21 bushels per acre.      It does help to not have hungry ground squirrels.

Final accounting at Maggie's Farm finds our last remaining variety, the spelt, now devoured.

We leave this year's wheat fields in their busy little hands.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Harvest is Done

The wheat harvest has been completed.  Unfortunately, it is not us humans who did the harvesting.
Only a small area of spelt remains

Essentially all of the wheat is gone. 

 Whole plots were flattened earlier and have not recovered.   Areas have been trampelled, and much has been devoured right off the stalks.

The ground squirrels have taken much of the crop.

On May 15th, one of them seemed unaware of a visitor, came quite close and demonstrated how he could reach up, pull a wheat plant down, nibble on the seed head and then move on to the next plant.

Remaining bit of Red Fife
Red Fife seed heads

A small clump of Red Fife remains, but it is more than two weeks from maturity when it can be harvested for wheat.  Unfortunately, it appears the squirrels like wheat berries even before they reach the soft dough stage.  So their harvest timing is significantly in advance of ours. 

Portions of our two spelt plots are still standing, but their seed heads are only at the blossom stage and will certainly be devoured as their kernels just start to develop, well before it is time for human harvest.
        Though Maggie's Farm has not been a successful locale for wheat, it is home to some charming critters
 and some very colorful ones, like this Western Bluebird.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Slim Pickens

As we approach our expected harvest, it appears we are not the only ones who find wheat an attractive crop.

Our first day's planting of Sonora and Red Fife have been reduced to a small green patch in the middle of the fields.
Glenn planted 11/29/12
The entire plot of Glenn from that first day is gone.  Although matted down some weeks ago, it seemed to be recovering.  However, now it has stopped growing and appears to have been grazed.  One of the traps set against the ground squirrels is in the foreground.

Our test plot of heirloom and newer varieties has been grazed to the ground.  Of the 12 varieties planted, 6 did develop well, and, on April 6th, Clear White and India Jammu seed heads were in blossom.  Now all (except two Poole variety plants) seem to have been devoured. 
The northern portion of the 2nd day's planting of Glenn has also been grazed, leaving only an area in the middle of the plot.  The 2nd day's Sonora, on the left, has about half a plot still standing, with seed heads in the late milk stage.   About a third of the Oberkulmer and Maverick Spelt remains and has seed heads emerging.  About a month until maturity.  But our plants seem to be disappearing faster than they can grow.

If we have a harvest, it is likely to be a modest one.