July 20, 2004 : It’s hard to believe,
but here we are in the middle of another summer growing season.
I must be getting old because it seems like it was just time
to plant corn and now it’s shoulder high. Where does
the time go!
We’re busy making second cutting hay, finishing up
with our row crop cultivations, and getting started on wheat
harvesting. The apples are starting to size up and so are
the potatoes. I hope you’ve been enjoying the same fine
weather we’ve been having here in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Although it’s still early and a lot can go wrong with
the weather, the crops look great and we’re hopeful
we’ll enjoy good yields.
Our new plot combine for our research activities has finally
arrived. This combine will replace the old Massey Harris 35’s
we’ve been using since – well, forever. They were
just getting tired. The new machine has an air-conditioned
cab, something the old 35’s never had. Yes, I know we’re
spoiled, but we ARE getting older and creature comforts seem
more important then they used to. This machine also collects
better data and downloads it directly into the computer. It
also cleans out faster between plots, which should save us
valuable time during harvest.
It wasn’t cheap. Costs run about the same for these
small units as they do for the full sized versions and you
know how much they are. But, like on any farm, there are costs
to “staying in the game,” and I guess that’s
one of them for us as a research farm. If we get as many years
out of it as we did the 35’s, I’ll have no complaints.
One of our field highlights for this year is our organic
no-till soybeans. We’ve tried a lot of new treatments--some
with the new crop roller we’ve been discussing on the
web site, and others without it. We tried planting on 30 inch
rows and drilling on 8 inch rows. This year the best plots
are those where we planted on 30 inch rows behind the roller
in rye. These plots are practically weed free. And there was
no tillage to establish the beans, no herbicide, and no cultivation.
My kind of system.
We also planted pumpkins no-till for the first time into
Hairy Vetch in full bloom the first week in June. It seems
to have worked great. Again, no tillage to establish the pumpkins,
no herbicide, and no cultivation. It was strictly a one pass
operation. We DID walk through the pumpkins one time with
hoes to get the pigweed that was coming up in the row.
What I SHOULD have done was remove the residue managers from
the front of the planter. That’s what I did for the
soybeans and it allowed me to close the cover crop back up
over the row more tightly. This seems to hold the weeds back
better than moving the cover crop away from the row and then
trying to move it back.
Our demonstration garden took a step backward last month
when we had a building fire that destroyed our pavilion. It
was a 24 foot by 48 foot building that sat in the middle of
the garden, serving as a seminar site and storage building.
The fire is still under investigation. Those of you who have
had fires know how destructive they can be. It’s not
only the building or the lost productivity but the emotional
loss as well. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the building
will be replaced.
This year is a big painting year for farm buildings. We try
to paint something every year; the appearance of the farm
is very important. You know how these old buildings hate to
hold paint. But this year we need to really get going, so
we’re painting the large white barn in the center of
the farmstead as well as the main house, which houses our
administrative team. This house was built in 1797 and the
barn around 1819.
The job was too big for us to handle on our own so we hired
painters. I hate painting! I’m glad to see they pulled
in today to get started. For those history buffs out there,
I should say that this farm was first settled in 1721, so
it’s been around for some time. Knowing the history
of a place gives me a better sense of where I fit in, as well
as a greater sense of responsibility to those who came before
me and to those who will come after.
Well, that’s a brief snap shot of what’s happening
with farm operations here at The Rodale Institute this month.
Let me know what's
going on, on your farm.
From One Farm To Another