I grew this emmer wheat as a spring wheat. I tried planting it in the fall, but most did not survive the winter. Most of the center is browning, but a lot of the edges are still green. I'm only saving the wheat for seed (for next year), but don't want to harvest it too green. Any advice is appreciated.
" With all the changes, nothing changes, no matter what you're told."
I'm excited to learn more about this. Someone told me, the grain is ready to harvest when it can't be dented with a fingernail, but I suspect that it can be harvested earlier and stooked - I did this with my barley last year, and it grew very well.
Dougan Nash wrote:a lot of the edges are still green.
Not ready yet...
My harvest cue is, when the wheat berries are hard enough that they shatter rather than mash when bitten, then they are ready to harvest. Harvest schedule subject to modification due to weather or predators. But I never harvest grain if there is any possibility that there is enough moisture in the seed heads that they would mold.
R Ranson wrote:Joseph, I've been worried about the birds and the rabbits getting to my grain if I leave it 'till it's shatter hard. Is this a real issue in your experience, or am I over thinking things (again)?
Around here, wheat seed is pretty much the last thing that birds will eat... If mixed bird seed has 1% wheat in it, then every other kind of seed will be eaten preferentially over the wheat. I've never observed a wild bird eating standing wheat in this area. I can't imagine rabbits being interested in eating drying wheat stalks or seed heads. The species of squirrel around here is not interested in collecting wheat or rye grains. Results may vary with other species of squirrels, rabbits, or birds in other locations.
Shattering and lodging are the most common ways that I lose grain. I typically wait to harvest wheat and rye until the first seed heads are just starting to shatter. It pretty much takes a severe thunderstorm for the varieties that I grow to lodge.
Here's what my rye looked like about a week ago. It was collected growing wild along about 40 miles of back-country roads in Cache Valley. Selection criteria included ease of threshing, and growing feral without irrigation.
I harvested my emmer about a month ago. Like you, I didn't want birds or critters carrying off any of my one packet of Baker Creek Seeds harvest. I went through with my scissors (one packet of seed plants enough for about two sweeps of a scythe) and snipped them into a bucket. Most of it was at the hard dried out stage, but there were a few heads that still had some green left to them. Since harvest, they have been sitting in a bucket in a dry place and I will thresh them later.
I will give emmer a thumbs up for the southeast coastal plain, at least it had no problems with the Georgia weather. I will use some of it for Italian farro recipes, but the majority of my crop is going to be seed for a fall planting.
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