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Old 04-19-2012, 04:37 AM   #131
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Yes the Hefty Brothers. Those guys have helped me become a better farmer. This last conference they held in our are must have had 1000 farmers attend. Never seen so many pickup trucks in my life.

I don't farm, just a big garden, but watching that show makes you realize it is not just throwing some seeds in the ground. They way they talk about fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides...makes my head spin. Crack me up how they disagree.
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Old 04-19-2012, 04:41 AM   #132
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Haha, this show is amazing! Thanks for the tip, jgln. Watching it, I've never felt so nerdy and so ...rugged at the same time. I probably could have just watched through these archives instead of pestering you poor folks all season.

Ryan, thanks! 500 acres -- that's a whole lot of beer!! Definitely looking forward to your pics.
Yeah, neat network. I am not into country music, horses, cattle but I love growing stuff and have an interest in farming and they have that. They have a show called "Corn College" that is all about growing corn....that's it, growing corn. Never thought there was that much too it, I grow corn just fine...most of the time. But I guess that is the point, if your income depends on it you better make sure it grows.
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Old 04-19-2012, 04:48 AM   #133
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I have winter wheat in the garden as a cover crop, nice because a couple tills and it dies. I am going to leave a strip grow to maturity, nothing else the chickens will enjoy it. Getting ready to plow under the rest in preparation for tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

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Old 04-26-2012, 03:11 AM   #134
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The non-barley part of the farm was plowed under to prepare for corn:



This gave me a chance to see some of the plants I haven't been able to get to for about a month now. (You can see the old net fence, designed to deter guinea fowl, completely grown into by the stand. Oops!)

In this part of the field, I was glad to see a bunch of late unfilled tillers with yellow flag leaves, indicating that they're on their way to being aborted by the plant:



This is the intended result of stopping irrigation. The late tillers die so all the photosynthates are redirected to the most advanced heads. As a result, they mature faster. Or so the story goes. It turns out that a good part of my field, the part that has been behind all season long, is still in late milk / early soft dough stage! That stage is usually too early to stop watering. Over the past week, I watched the soil moisture level drop from 9-11" to 6-8", down to 4-6" on Monday after a blistering weekend, (80's!) so I gave just that half of the field a dousing (10 minutes from the heads) on Monday.

I probably should have held off, because today they're getting soaked with rain! So much for the strategy of letting the more advanced plants dry out. Nature will do what it wants.

Anyway, there is a sign that some plants (in the other, more advanced half of the field, naturally), are nearing maturity.



Here's a closer look:



Glumes are the little hairs at the base of each grain. When they completely loose their green color, that is a sign that the tiller is physiologically mature. These guys are beginning to turn yellow. It's unclear to me what the glumes are for, besides telling when your grain is mature!

The other sign of physiological maturity is loss of color in the peduncle, which is the stem that the head grows on. This hasn't happened yet in any of the plants. But, the grains are clearly in hard dough stage now:



It's beginning to look like an actual grain.

Now that the barley is all by itself, you can see the extreme shading this area has on the west side (the far side of the photo) -- direct sunlight was over by 3pm during most of the winter. Despite the light limitation, development has stayed on schedule!

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Old 04-26-2012, 04:59 AM   #135
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This remains a super interesting thread that I'm glad I subscribed to early on. So cool to see that typical barley shape appearing in your field!

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Old 04-26-2012, 06:24 AM   #136
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That's a gorgeous spot you've been able to line up. This is a really, really cool thread.

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Old 04-26-2012, 02:34 PM   #137
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That's a beautiful thing. Thanks for keeping us all updated.

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Old 04-26-2012, 03:00 PM   #138
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Thanks for sharing this great adventure! Considering the premium on ag acreage in California this is quite a feat you are pulling off. I hope the weather cooperates for the very short remainder of your growing season. I'll let you in on a little secret....you probably have a better feel for what is going on with your crop than most barley/winter wheat farmers I know in California. Most of them are on a set it and forget it schedule. Keep up the good work on behalf of local beer!

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Old 04-26-2012, 03:03 PM   #139
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Have you found more sources for barley seed? I've been searching for an heirloom variety aside from conlon for the last year.

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Old 04-26-2012, 03:18 PM   #140
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Thanks again for the kind words guys!

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Most of them are on a set it and forget it schedule. Keep up the good work on behalf of local beer!
Haha, actually I was hoping that if I have the chance to do this again, I could be more on a set it and forget it schedule! But I really haven't known what was going on most of the time this year, so the help I've gotten from HBT has been completely necessary for the crop's success.

Other sources of seed -- yes, the National Plant Germplasm System will send you 5g of just about any seed in the world. That's where I got the bere barley seed from. It expands very quickly -- the first season you'll just have enough for a corner of your garden, but then next year you'll have enough for 120 sq. feet or so. That's where I'm at with the bere -- I expect to get enough seed for a few thousand sq. feet next year.

There are also heirloom seed companies on the web that sometimes carry barley seeds, like Sustainable Seed Co. If you find any more, post them here, because I'd like to know.
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