The last field of Chick Peas at Mattson Farms was harvested August 31, 2021. On September 1, the Mattson Farms Crew began preparing the fields to plant Winter Wheat for crop year 2022. The new crop year has begun!
The fields to be planted to Winter Wheat are sprayed to kill any weeds, volunteer grains from earlier crops, or unwanted grasses that are currently growing and would compete with the new winter wheat plant when it emerges. Decisions on those products and the rates to use have been chosen, purchased, and brought to the farm.
We have purchased a small quantity of a new winter wheat variety, Bobcat, that Montana State University has recently released. We will determine following the 2022 harvest if this is a variety we wish to migrate to or if we continue to plant the variety we have currently been planting. In this case, it is all about how the plant survives the winter cold, how well it is protected against diseases and insects, and what the yield and quality are at harvest time.
Most of the acres being planted for 2022 at Mattson Farms will be to the variety, Warhorse, which is a “solid stem” MSU variety bred to protect the plant from the sawfly insect. As a solid stem variety, it is usually lower yielding yet lowers the risk of losing the crop due to damages that can caused by that insect.
When previously harvested grain is used as seed, that seed is put through a cleaner that takes out any debris such as chaff, weeds, or even insects such as grasshoppers. This process is essential to ensure that the seeds will flow easily through the air seeders and to avoid replanting any unwanted seeds.
Following the cleaning process, the seed is then treated with a product that protects that seed from insects and/or diseases while it is germinating and beginning to emerge. This growing season our area had a large infestation of grasshoppers which can mow down new small plants when they first emerge. To protect these plants the decision was made to apply an additional product to the seed, at an additional cost, of course. It is safe to say that the Producer invests whatever he can into giving that seed the best opportunity to be successful when it begins its new life.
The fertilizer that will go into the ground with the winter wheat seeds is brought to the farm. From soil samples taken earlier and analyzed, a decision is made as to how much fertilizer to put down. One wants to give the plant the nutrients it needs to have a healthy start and yet the cost of those products must be taken into consideration. Due to the increase in commodity prices during this past summer, the cost of the fertilizer we are going to use has nearly doubled.
Winter Wheat is a unique plant in that it must go through a process known as “vernalization”. A great article about winter wheat written by Kansas State University titled, “Cold Hardening in Winter Wheat” can be found on the website: www.no-tillfarmer.com.