The Loveliest Way To Awaken

Farmer Notes

The loveliest way to awaken each morning is to the sound of early rising birds. This enables one to at least begin the day with great hope and gives one time to get the lay of the land while sipping on the porch, realizing that this has to have been one of the mildest, tranquil springs ever here in the Methow. And dry. To be sure the nearly complete lack of rain is one challenge during planting, but I believe the depth of frost this past winter is what has made for the parched soil profile more than anything. For the first time I can recall, we’ve had to irrigate up most of our crops.

We never take for granted the good fortune in having irrigation water – particularly when so many farmers elsewhere don’t this year. However, I’ve always favored the crops germinating on their own. Irrigating bare soil certainly adds work to the planting cycle, what’s more, however, is that it is hard to end up with an even stand. Some plants will be cruising along at 3-4 inches tall, while other rows are just coming out of the ground. It’s early enough so that the stands can even out as the growing season advances. But they never will be as uniform as if the seedbed was moist enough for everything to row at once. And, we’ll be challenged by this right thru harvest, potentially, with most of the stand cured, but some still lagging and still green. Time will tell.

Yes, we are all planted. We finished the majority of our planting the last week in May and all the stands are up and we’ve been using supplemental irrigation sparingly and actually have begun our second round of nutrients just in time for the long, sweet light of June to take hold. The endless 70-75 degree days with a good bit of sun have been perfect growing conditions for our grains. And so, the next phase is set and the next phase is ALL about growing…the Fun part!

Finally, after a couple years of struggles, we’ve installed a new and improved mobile injection set-up for our pivots. Now we can more easily apply various nutrient packages without driving on the fields and without having to be present. This is a huge time saver and a more accurate way of applying either soil goodies, or foliar sprays.

We just finished applying fish emulsion on our first emmer field on our new WDFW lease and it was swell to get a strong whiff of ocean smells while watching the young grain – a deep green – bob in the fresh mountain breeze with snow-capped peaks beyond!

We will treat all our grain crops with this fish, before giving them more water and just prior to booting (heads beginning to form) we’ll likely apply a kelp extract combined with some amino acids for another nutrient support to boost actual grain quality at fill-stage. Our first couple fields will likely boot the first to second week in July, depending on the weather.

After our final treatment, and more watering, there is little more that we can do for our crops. Then it truly is all up to Mother Nature and she will see things through to a good harvest, or not such a good harvest. With the staggered stands this year I suspect that harvest will be spread out a bit. However, sometimes certain conditions present themselves and all the growth seems to even out and harvest moves right along. We won’t know the full story until probably the autumn equinox.

Our winter peas are in full flower and I’ve decided to mow them off and try and extend their growth period this year, adding more bio-mass and green goodies to the soil.

We may try some later season green crops on a couple of our winter pea fields – sort of a double whammy of green manures. Maybe some buckwheat and/or maybe something else. It is an intense cycle and growing season here in the foothills, to be sure. The strangest of strange things is happening though as I write this; it is RAINING!!

We’re ever grateful for our steady flow of orders in the granary. It has been a good year thus far thanks to all of you. I hope everyone gets a chance to take in the long light of solstice, and enjoy the up-coming summer days. Congrats to all the Grads…from various schools. Good luck to you all.

Yours, Farmer Sam