|Click on the picture for a higher resolution|
This is the rough crop plan for the 2016 growing season.
I tried to establish a new stand of alfalfa last summer in the "grain corn" area, and honestly, it just didn't work out, so I'm going to plow it under and try again. I tried a different strain of alfalfa there, and then had a drought, and between the two just didn't get results I'm happy with, so I try again.
I pulled roughly 3000 yards of manure out of my manure lagoon last fall, and I'll be loading that into my dumptruck and distributing it over the "grain corn" area and tilling it in. Figure 10 acres of grain corn there.
I'm going to be planting some barley and some wheat as a test in the area labeled "small grains test area". I have a grain head for my combine, so I have the ability to harvest small grains (actually, that's what my combine was made to do!) and I'm interested in seeing what sort of yields I can get. There's a fairly active market for grains for brewing, but before I commit to growing some under contract, I'd like to make sure that I can do it. The grains grown will probably be used for pig feed this year.
That little triagular portion is a real problem area for me I'm going to grow some squash/pumpkins there this year, but I'm going to have to do something about the dirt. Unlike most of the rest of the fields it's got a lot of rocks and not very much soil, and the drainage is poor. That combines to make it difficult to grow forage there -- it gets flooded out and drowned in teh winter - but for warm-season crops it's a pretty good fit. My neighbor has a vibratory screen, and I figure that 5 or 6 days of screening and then amending with 8" or so of manure will put that field into the shape I'd like it to be. I'll grade it also, to see if I can't get the water to drain a little better.
I'm expanding my vinyard area with 100 concord grape vines; they won't produce a crop for 3 years, and the vines are aimed for sale at the local produce/farm stands in the area. They are a fall crop, and sell pretty well fresh, but make excellent juice as well.
The alfalfa is pretty popular with the cows, so I'm putting in more alfalfa this year. The alfalfa is also pretty good at preventing erosion - the floods in late 2015 put a lot of water over these fields, and having the tough-rooted alfalfa there I think helped keep the soil where it should be.
|Click on the image to see a higher resolution picture|
The blue area is just too wet to get to in the early season, but I think it'll work fine for something like buckwheat. I could plant fescue there; it's grass that is wet-tolerant; I think I'm going to say that what goes there is "to be determined".
I'm going corn-on-corn for the grain corn area; I know what I got out of it last year, and the test comes back ok, so I'm going to try it again this year, and then probably put alfalfa in after that.
The cows like the orchard grass hay, and it has the added benefit of being able to be sold to the local horse people, so I'm going to till, level and plant the grass seed. Planting this year gives me a first cutting around july 4th, which is when the weather usually gets good enough for haying.
Around the edge of the grain corn area it's really wet and covered in reed canary grass, which tolerates the wet really nicely. Sometime in late july or early august the ground dries up enough that I can get in there and hay it, and I use that grass for bedding purposes. I get about 150 bales/cutting, and usually get two cuttings off of it. It's pretty straw-like by the time that conditions allow me to harvest it, but it works pretty well as straw, too. The sows like to make nests when farrowing, and having a couple of hundred bales makes it easy to toss one fo the sow.
I have been seriously considering leasing some corn ground. The grain dryer works pretty well, and I've got storage bins for it, and the ground is leasing for $50-80/acre/year. Given the yields I got last year, its pretty tempting to put in 40 acres of corn. It's a lot cheaper to grow it than buy it from the feed mill.