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how to plant wheat right now  RSS feed

 
M Johnson
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Ok, so last year I planned on planting spring wheat and never got to it. 50 lbs of non gmo seed.

I planned on putting it in a particular place that last year was tilled after I had pigs in it. I planted pretty much everything there, but grass took over. That has died down now and my big garden is going elsewhere (my house). What can I do now to plant in the very near future to avoid tilling if at all possible?

Any Fukuoka techniques that could apply right now? I don't have time to do much observing except what I noticed last year, and obviously cover crops are too late.

Can I cover with straw? If I do, how do I plant the seeds? I can till if I have to, but I'd rather not...hate to tear up earthworms and burn up organic material that's there.
 
John Elliott
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You don't say where you are, but I take it you are in the far north to be contemplating planting wheat now. Here is a blurb from the University of Georgia that has some good info on planting, seeding rates, and the use of straw.

Fifty pounds is around enough to seed half an acre, so if you were to do any tillage, it would be the size of job for a walk behind tiller. With one of those tillers, you don't have to worry about soil compaction and creating a hardpan like you would if you were making passes over the field with a tractor. Also, you can set the depth for just a couple of inches, enough to scratch all the weeds and competition off the surface, but not deep enough to do a lot of damage to the earthworms and other soil life.

If it was me, after I tilled it with the walk-behind tiller, I would hoe some shallow furrows, plant my seed, and rake it over. Actually, I have just gotten done with this exercise, except it wasn't wheat I was planting, but sorghum and finger millet. The sorghum was 2 weeks ago and it is coming up nicely, and I got the finger millet in today. I tend not to pay attention to Fukuoka when it comes to grains. His techniques leave a lot to chance and the whims of nature, and I want these crops to do well. I'll leave the Fukuoka methods for the arugula and salsify, for I don't care where they come up as long as I have a good bit of it naturalized in my garden.
 
M Johnson
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Well, I ended up tilling just so I could get planted. Here in kentucky you can plant spring wheat into June. I hand broadcasted, pushed the seeds in the ground by walking on them, then watered slightly. It was a family planting with my mom and son sowing while I was raking and tilling and dad watering.

What should I do at the end of harvest to not till next year, or to plant winter wheat without tilling again?
 
John Elliott
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M Johnson wrote:
What should I do at the end of harvest to not till next year, or to plant winter wheat without tilling again?


I wouldn't follow wheat-after-wheat, isn't there some cover crop you could plant in the fall? If you put in some tillage radish, then next year you can just mow it down (if it doesn't winter kill), and plant your wheat right into it. You can probably do that with a lot of the cover crop blends.
 
R Scott
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Cover crop(s). When does spring wheat get harvested in KY if planted now? I am guessing it is still hot, so cowpea is about the only legume for hot weather planting. Buckwheat, sudangrass, and sunflower can be added for biomass. Then there is a whole list of potential fall planting--turnips, radish, clover, annual rye, oats, or go into winter wheat.

 
M Johnson
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Pretty sure it gets harvested in the fall, so I could do a cover crop. Then just chop and drop in the spring? Or mow? Just broadcast seed right on top for the wheat in spring?
 
R Scott
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In my opinion, mowing is a mechanized form of chop and drop. Sometimes it works well, sometimes using a scythe is actually faster.

Many suggest broadcasting seed BEFORE mowing, letting the mower and mulch work the seed in.

I am trying to figure out a workable system for myself, I have not had much luck with just broadcasting into standing crops.
 
M Johnson
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Update:

Complete failure.

Johnson grass pretty much just came up first before the wheat and we lost it all.

Does anyone know how to get rid of Johnson grass appropriately? The local extension office of course suggested chemicals, which isn't going to happen.

I had pigs in hear for awhile, but obviously that didn't work either.

I'd like to plant in the fall again, but I don't know if chop and dropping Johnson grass will work, or if it will just grow back again and choke it out again.
 
R Scott
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Johnson grass is hard to control, even with chemical. It propagates through seed and rhizome.

It is one of those that burning may be appropriate, to reduce seed load. Light tillage divides the plant and brings more shoots. Weaker plants that can be easier to kill, but more of them if you don't stay on top.

http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/pubnwsltr/TRIM/5162.pdf

I wish it was good safe forage, because it makes a lot of it.

I suppose if I had a large field of it I needed to organically control it, I would mow it and bale it. The bales would be composted--simply set the round bales on end and water them. Then disturb the soil to sprout seeds and dry out some of the rhizomes, planting cheap legumes at the same time. Repeat as necessary.
 
Terri Matthews
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I'm sorry.

I have Johnson grass also, but not everywhere. I try to plant the desirable plants where there is no Johnson grass. I have some in just a corner of my vegetable garden which I pull by hand: this does not entirely get rid of it but it hurts it enough so that I do get vegetables as well. I like to put staked tomatos there, and every time I harvest I yank some Johnson grass.
 
Arthur Hau
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I am not an expert in natural farming. But here is what I am currently doing. Before growing wheat, grow something else, like tomatoes, amaranths, soybeans, winter squash, etc. To plant tomatoes, simply trim/mow down all the grass without removing their roots. Put back the grass clippings onto the top and add more grass or weeds or dried chicken manure on the top also. Transplant you tomatoes in mid-May (zone 8 ). Harvest all your tomatoes after mid-October. The ground is relatively free of grass or weeds. Here in Oregon, it starts raining in mid-October. You don't even need to water the ground at all.

Soak your wheat kernels (I use wheat kernels, not wheat grains) into water for 2 days. Dig very narrow furrows about 8 inches to 1 foot apart and plant your kernels into the furrows. Add fresh chicken manure to the top of the furrow and cover everything up with soil. Add more grass clipping, weeds, dead tomato plants, chicken manure to the entire area.

My 2 cents.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Thanks Arthur, welcome to permies!
 
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