It seems like I might or might not have picked a great year to document how my wheat is growing so that I can easily look back at these pictures as a reference in the future to gauge how well my wheat is doing I think we've had a grand total of just under 3" of rain since October, had a hard freeze a couple of weeks ago (which can kill the heads of wheat), and for the last couple of weeks we've had strong winds and temperatures in the 80's which sucks whatever moisture we do have right out of the ground.
The wheat started heading out a few days ago, so I decided to take some pictures. If you look hard enough you can see that it's about 12" tall or so and has reasonably sized heads for the conditions. In an average year (whatever that is), the wheat would be about twice that high, and would have headed out a couple of weeks ago.
You can start to see that it's running out of moisture and is turning yellow in spots and it's turning blue in a few isolated spots that have some freeze damage.
Stepping back from my marker, you can see where I have some compaction problems by the gate from the extra traffic going through that gate and how even less moisture is available because of that compaction.
If we don't get a little bit of rain soon, there might not be much of anything to harvest. If we get just a little bit of rain, we might get a below average harvest or it might grow just a little bit taller so that it could be cut for hay. Either way, there's nothing I can do about it at this point, but I'm slightly optimistic that I'll be able to salvage something.
I don't have any updated pictures of my pasture-cropped wheat because there isn't much to take a picture of at this point, it ran out of moisture, had some freeze damage, and I put the cows on it a couple of weeks ago. But, I wouldn't say it was a failure, I did get some grazing out of it, the root system is still down in the ground doing all it's organic matter building stuff, and I learned that there might be a higher chance of freeze damage during a freak hard freeze in April. There is also a chance that a little extra fertility might be worth applying to pasture cropped wheat to get a little extra growth soon after planting.
My best result this winter might be my experiment with planting a combination of 90 lb. of wheat, 4-5 lb. of crimson clover, and 3-4 lb. of canola per acre. This 6 acre test area had some wheat on it that was harvested in July, it was mowed in late September to knock down the weeds and grass, then the wheat combined with the clover and canola was drilled into the field without any starter fertilizer or herbicide application. I then top dressed it in early March with 30 lb. of Nitrogen per acre.
The canola was frozen out, but the clover seems to have survived the winter and is starting to flower, and the wheat looks about the same as the rest of my wheat, but I have less input costs in this plot. In a wetter year, I suspect that the clover would be bigger, would have fixed more N for the following crops, and would have created more organic material to start building more organic matter in the field. Hopefully, it will go to seed, will blow out of the back of the combine when I'm cutting the wheat, and it will come up as a volunteer stand of clover next year, reducing my input costs even more. Once again, I'm optimistic.
|Crimson Clover in Winter Wheat|
Finally, here's a shot of my farm garden/test plot (approx. 1000 sq.ft.) with some bio-char applied to an area that was planted to wheat then mowed a couple of weeks ago. I'm planning on planting some sorghum-sudangrass here, or some sort of cover crop mix of sorghum-sudangrass, sunflowers, and whatever I can come up with.
Now, I just wish it would rain tonight the way they are forecasting, I don't really want to go to the trouble of washing my pickup just to try to make it rain.