Organic Field Day

Small Grains, Modest Gains: A Pragmatic Approach

 

Randy and Jody Hughes
Hughes Farm
Janesville, Wis.

 

Soft red winter wheat field 
They’re raising this for seed and produce it under irrigation as their soils are sandy. They don’t underseed with clover currently but will look at that for the future. They had areas of ragweed in the field which complicates harvest. They don’t have on-farm storage so finding buyers who will take more immediate delivery is key to their operation. They stated at the outset that their farm was an open book and we’d see it all.

 

Industrial hemp field
Hughes have a pilot field of industrial hemp (for seed) and Legacy Hemp staff was on hand to talk about the crop, how it’s grown.  It was produced on a newly certified field which was very sandy. They had very poor germination of the hemp and uneven growth & development of the crop (mainly due to seeding). Since this is pilot year, they found out that emergence was better in the wheel tracks and hemp seed doesn’t like overly wet soils when trying to emerge.  They seeded right before a large rain and found that was a mistake.

 

Cover crop inter-seeding (soybeans with spring planted winter rye)
Newer technique of spring planting winter rye (which is a winter annual: so the plant itself doesn’t vernalize) then seeding soybeans into the winter rye.  The rye never heads out but will suppress weeds.  Rye was planted on 5/7 & soybeans on 5/17. This field looked great…virtually weed free. This system hasn’t been investigated a ton yet: UW is doing research on it this season and growers who have tried it have had mixed success. Grower I talked to at lunch who used this system planted the two closer together and the soybeans never outgrew the rye.

 

Rainfall simulator indoors
NRCS demonstration on why living roots & residue on the soil surface are critical for soil health. It’s a visual confirmation that tillage & lack of residue/living roots prevent infiltration and will lead to soil erosion during rainfall events

 

Corn trial
9 hybrids planted in strips across three cover crop blends (red clover || Cowpea/sunn hemp/Tillage radish || Winter triticale/hairy vetch). They wanted to evaluate how corn hybrids would respond to nitrogen accumulation by 3 cover crop blends as well as evaluating emergence, yield and drydown. Trial was put in place with help from Organic Seed Alliance.

 

Non-GMO white corn
Part of the Hughes diversification. They grow non-GMO white corn which is higher value as well as organic blue corn for their chip brand.

 

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