Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wild Flowers in the New Shelter Belt

It is amazing to see what can happen to a seed over the Summer.  
 This is especially true this year when our Spring was cold and late.
Wild Flower seeds were planted between the rows of our new shelter belt by the Aneta Community Orchard and Gardens. 
Bill refers to the shelter belt as an arboretum because it has a wide selection of trees that can be categorized as specialty crops in our area. 
They might be grown for fruit, nuts, lumber, or other special purpose.  
We have a few trees from many different species that will grow as an example of how that tree will grow in our climate. We will watch them and see if they can survive and thrive.  The wild flowers will be left to go to seed or perhaps some roots will survive under the snow.
All of the trees in the rows will protect the fenced Aneta Community Orchard and Gardens from the cruel prevailing Northwest wind of Winter. 
The shelter belt was planted earlier this Summer. A barrier was rolled out onto the ground to inhibit weed growth between rows, absorb heat from the sun, and conserve water.
 The shelter belt even contain hardy roses.
Their hips make interesting jam and jelly, which I have tasted, but never made myself. 
All of this is backed by a row of practical, fast growing trees. 
Soon, perhaps within a week, the cold will return and our growing season will end. 
By April, anything that is inspired to grow will be a welcome sight in GriggsDakota.

Friday, September 26, 2014

One Apple is a Start

 We found a red apple on one of our apple trees. It is the only apple that we have ever raised in this yard.
Last Spring it had been three years since we planted the apple trees in our yard. There are several varieties, but I did notice that the Haralson looked strong and had grown well.
 It was time to remove the sleeves that had protected the trees from rodents and deer. 
 The sleeves, if left on too long, will weaken the tree. 
 Wouldn't you know that when I checked the stake at the bottom of the appled tree, it was the Haralson.
Field Hand Joe was nearby on the lawn mower, so I motioned him over. 
We admired the apple for a moment or two. October first is considered optimum time for picking apples in GriggsDakota. The fruit can handle a light frost, and should be fully ripened by then. 
Since there was only one apple in this year's crop, we decided not to wait. Joe picked it. 
 It was quite tart with a firm texture and juicy.
 Next year I hope hundreds of his appley friends join us on the trees in our yard.
Tree planters and apple harvesters continue to be hopeful in GriggsDakota.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Corn is Maturing

 It is now clear to see which places in the corn field were most damaged by frost.
 But all of the corn was not affected. Corn cob maturation will continue, as long as the stalk is alive, despite the brown leaves. After the 2011 September frost Grandpa Sonny collected cobs each week to watch the cobs over a four week period. Click on the link to visit this post.
In order for corn to be ready for harvest, it must be mature and dry. It is unusual for corn to dry down to safe storage moisture content in the field. Our season is so short. It does need to dry enough to go through the combine and dry down in a grain dryer. 
We planted corn that takes 75 and 79 days to mature. 
We also look for varieties that have a quick dry down. When the corn price is low, as it is this season, it does not pay for us to dry corn excessively. The ability of a variety to dry down in the field is just as important as finding a variety that we can reasonably expect to mature during our short season.
 The cobs that we checked were mostly, but not completely, dented. That means that the cobs have not fully matured. As they dry, cobs often drop, allowing their silk end to point to the ground.
This season, even for our short season varieties, dry down will likely start with a hard freeze. The corn is  several weeks away from becoming a crop ready for harvest in GriggsDakota.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

AgAnalyst Checks the Soybean Field

On an evening in July, I drove past a nearby soybean field and found the AgAnalyst standing in her favorite shorts. These are the ones we have to fight with her to wash. She would wear them every single waking moment if she could. And so, for much of the Summer they have been washed while she was sleeping.
The AgAnalyst was with her mother who was going to take pictures. 
With the background of soybeans and sunset, it looked to be a dream setting. 
I wanted to freeze time and linger here, watching my daughter as a mother with her daughter in our field. 
Time does not pause at my command. As always, time continued through the months of Summer heat and frost to the present day. This time AgAnalyst is checking on our soybeans.
 From a distance the soybeans are brown and sad looking.
 But the withered leaves at the tops of the plants are being taken over by the green leaves underneath. 
Up close, it is clear that the soybeans are continuing to mature. 
 Under the sad looking canopy are soybeans that are enjoying our second Summer.
 Some areas are greener than others, but the crop is there.
The weather has turned unseasonably warm, which is just what this crop and all of us need. 
So, time will not pause, but we will remember. 
And as the AgAnalyst finished her recent inspection she announced that
"There are a lot of soybeans out here."
Good news in GriggsDakota.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

We Call this Indian Summer

It seems that the sun is shining brighter, 
 The sky is bluer.
And the grass is more luxurious. 
We call this Indian Summer. 
It is the time after frost when Summertime temperatures return, at least in the afternoon. 
The cattle are enjoying the last of the grass growth. It seems to me that they know what lies ahead. 
 Of course, these adventurers have crawled under a four barb wire fence to escape the confines of the pasture. They have no idea that the warm temperatures will be leaving soon. After watching them crawl back into the pasture, we will stop and fix the fence.
The leaves are dropping from some of the trees that were nipped by last week's frost.  
Indian Summer brings days to savor in GriggsDakota.