The harvest has started and the tomato workshop was about the first big project to start with. The tomato breeding project covered over 2 ½ acres this year; by far the biggest one we have ever had. Kelly, Mike Bowman and Elisa are busy in the Albion lab squishing tomatoes. I wonder if they'll like them after this project is done. The whole hillside is alive with the reds and golds of ripened tomatoes, awaiting the rotovator when their time comes; it'll be a few days anyway.
Kelly and Mike took soil samples last week from all the fields we use; whether we own or rent them. This will help us determine which fields to use for which crop next year. It will tell us which fields are deficient in nutrients and what to add to correct any problems. It will also tell us what the organic matter content is, which in turn, tells us how much nitrogen will be available and what the water holding capacity is. All useful things when growing crops.
Most of the open ground has been planted to cover crops by now and are in various stages of growing now. One field had cowpeas and Sudan grass in it; it looked so bad after a light frost we plowed in under and will reseed it this week to rapeseed. We planted a field down back to rapeseed about three weeks ago and it's thriving. It’s about eight inches tall right now and will enjoy some rain this weekend.
Speaking of cover crops that like cool weather, we have several patches of turnips planted around Albion this year. Three local farmers are testing the turnips for winter grazing for the resident deer population. Turnips are one of the best foods for attracting deer. And, yes, it's legal. It's legal to plant crops for deer and then hunt those crops but it is illegal to bait deer, i.e. placing apples or acorns in piles in the woods, or tossing pumpkins out into a field for the sole purpose of attracting deer. Deer feeding is becoming increasingly popular. Many people buy pellets to feed the deer in the winter, when they could just as easily grow turnips for them. We'll see how it works out; at least we should get some good pictures.
We've got a couple of really light frosts here on the farm now. One last Thursday night dropped the leaves on the pumpkins and damaged some of the basil. The frost was real spotty and we probably didn't have to irrigate, but we did anyway. We had 30 degrees here on the farm and 27 degrees at one of isolation fields; that dropped some leaves! Basil and Sudan grass are really susceptible to cold temps so we use them as indicators of how cold it actually was. Cowpeas are another crop that is very susceptible to the cold as well.
Until next week, enjoy the sun and warm temps, Brian.