Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Corn calculator - trying to figure out my corn planting this year

Try this link to get to a corn calculator.  It's one way that a farmer can get a feel for whether they will make a profit given the commodity price of corn and their expected  yield.  gives you a feel for what a lot of farmers are looking at this time of year, trying to figure out what they're going to plant, and how much, given expected falling corn prices this  year.

Why does it matter for me?   My pigs do eat a fair bit of corn, in the form of the standard pig ration that we feed free-choice.  My current feed buy is 10 tons every 6 weeks, for an average of about 1.5 tons consumed per week.  The cost of the feed is $380/ton, and I expect that to go down this year becuase of lower corn prices.  two-three years ago that same feed was $540/ton.

Good corn ground in the USA produces 195 bushels of corn per acre; average yields appear to be in the 120-130bushel/acre range.  (A bushel of shelled corn is 56lbs, so good corn ground will produce 5.5 tons of corn per acre, and average somewhere around  3.5 tons per acre)

So for my field and my lack of corn-expertise, and to account for any mistakes that I might make, I'm going to say that if I planted corn I'd get 90 bushes/acre, or 2.5 tons/acre.

I'm consuming 1.5 tons of feed a week, which works out to 78 tons a year, and about 75% of that feed is corn.  So I'm consuming about 59 tons of corn per year, in the form of feed.

so if I planted a little over 20 acres of corn, and somehow managed to harvest it, I'd have all the corn I needed to feed all the pigs for the year.   To make it into a complete feed I'd have to add some protein, but this is an interesting thought.

78 tons at 380 a ton is $29,640 feed cost.   75% of that is $22,230 - so if I can plant, maintain and harvest 20 acres of corn for $22k, I'll break even.  If I can do it for less I might save some money.  

But the math changes if the feed prices do indeed drop, as I expect them to.  I like the idea of being vertically oriented; growing most of my own feed regardless of market conditions.  But I don't like the idea of spending more than I have to.


Planted and fallow ground results

 We're in the intensive grass growing season here and I spent part of the day today out in the fields looking at the grass and alfalfa and fallow areas of the farm.  this is the mostly-orchard grass area.  It looks like the grass has pretty much crowded out all of the weeds; it's a little under knee-high on me right now, maybe 13-15" tall.  .

 Next to that is the grass-alfalfa mix field.  the alfalfa looks like it's a little overwhelmed, but it actually grows faster than the grass, and taller.  So this looks good as well.

This is an interesting area.  to the left is the fallow area.  I did till it, but planted no seeds there.  What came in, and in huge quantity, is white clover.  It's got a fair number of weeds, dandelions and cowslip and some plaintain, but most of the area is clover.  it looks like I planted it.
 the line between planted and fallow is pretty sharp, and you can see a dramatic difference in what is growing there.

The cows are choosing to graze on the alfalfa-grass mix sections of the field more than the pure-alfalfa.  the most popular field is the 30% alfalfa, 70% orchard grass.  since that's what they are telling me they prefer to eat, I'll be planting that mix in the corn area from last year.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Edible plants for the yard: Tea?

In the new vinyard I put in an extra line of trellis with the plan to put in some marionberries.  You can order marionberries from all over, but I'd rather have some that were sourced from around here to get a better chance that the particular plant is suited for this climate.

One of the local growers that had them also mentioned that they'd planted 5 acres of  Camellia sinensis...  which you probably know under another name.


"Csinensis" by AxelBoldt at en.wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
It has an attractive green foliage, it's an evergreen, and commercial plantations of it look like a trimmed hedge.  All of it works for me as a sort of stealth edible.  People think it's a hedge, but it's actually a tea tree.  Dried leaves can be made into either green or black tea.  Not a tea substitute -- this is the real deal.

I think I'll get a few and plant them.