Friday, August 5, 2011

Barley-Nearly Mature but Far from Finished

Despite the hazards of the season, there is hope.
There is barley growing strong in the fields.
The heads are big and the kernels are plump, though doughy. We planted our corn first because it requires a longer season and the Spring was late. The Summer has been wet, so the crops are taking their sweet time to mature. Water is often the limiting factor in crop production on the plains.
This year moisture is unlimited.
There is an abundance of blackbirds this season They are helping themselves to the tastiest morsels of barley and other grains.
 Above is a road during our mid April flood.
Here is the same road now, in August. I have never seen it like this in August when we are more likely to be parched than flooded. 
It has been perfect weather for disease, but the fungicide seems to have done its job.
The Barley field on the photo above is the first field in the area planted each Spring. It is high ground and near a paved road.  The farmer had swathed the barley and so they had to combine it. If it would sprout in the swath, it cannot be graded as malting barley. It would simply be sold as feed. So even though it was soaking wet from recent rain (I know this because I noticed wet tires on the combine as it picked up a swath) they decided to get it into an air bin and take their chances. Malting barley cannot be dried in a conventional grain dryer. It cannot be exposed to temperatures over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher temperatures damage the barley's ability to sprout. The wet grain must be put into a bin with large fans that blow air through the grain to dry the barley down. Barley's ability to sprout is essential to the malting process, but the tendency to sprout must be carefully controlled as it matures and is stored.
There was no dust behind the combines as they picked up a swath. When barley is dry, the chaff billows out behind the combine. We call that smoke as in: "How dry is it? Is there smoke?" or "Are you smoking dry?" Farmers do test for moisture, but after years of experience, we know what to look for.
No tobacco or fire involved.
Since the barley in GriggsDakota was planted later, it will not be mature for another week or so. We hope that will give the fields a chance to dry out.
 Will August dry out?
Odds are that it will, but when?

We need golden sunshine to finish our golden grain in GriggsDakota.

1 comment:

  1. The blackbirds are being greatly reduced by 3 young hunters (hunter,logan, and wyatt) this weekend. Just trying to do our part for the farm!