In my area, wheat does not naturalize... It doesn't compete well with the pre-existing vegetation. Rye on the other hand has naturalized and gone feral all over my valley. So if I want to grow wheat, it gets grown in a cultivated field. Rye can be grown in a pasture, or in any old wild-place that I happen to plant it.
I actually started with a clean plot before sowing the wheat. I was done all by hand, shoveled off the sod, chopped & sifted the soil to losen it up enough to bury the seed a bit & allow roots to grow.
Seemed like nothing was happening so I left it alone, weeds started coming back and then all of a sudden I noticed a few wheat plants were emerging very sparsely, by that time, they were competing with native weeds.
I pulled out some weeds near the wheat plants but, just didn't get the timing right as I was busy with many other things.
I assume the few plants that did make it should have have some extremely adapted / strong genetics, next attempt should be much better?
Looking at the last photo (bottom left) does this seed head look ok to save seeds from? Any tips for a beginner?
I really like harrowing as an annual-weed suppression for grains. The technique is to plant the wheat/rye/etc, and then rake it with a leaf rake from time to time. That kills a lot of tiny annual weed seedlings. For winter grains, the raking can be done in the fall, and in the spring, as needed depending on which seeds are germinating based on temperature. This technique doesn't handle the perennial weeds or other grasses.
Do you think I should cut off the seed heads for saving seeds now as they look rather dry & dead?
Being I'm still a novice at grains, I don't want to loose my opportunity to successfully save seed.
If so, any advice on how to do it?
The grain looks immature to me. It's probably viable already. I'd expect it to continue to store starches for a couple more weeks. I typically don't harvest grains until they are dry enough to start shattering. You can hedge your bets by collecting some now, and some later. It would suck to have a species of bird in your area that decides to eat every grain in a day.
I typically harvest scattered grain plants, or small/weedy patches with a pair of secateurs. Cut off the seed heads. Collect them into a bucket. Spread them out to dry. Jump up and down on them to thresh, or beat with a stick. Winnow.
I really like this configuration for removing the glumes from older wheats... 1/2 inch vinyl coated hardware cloth. Rub the glumes off with an old rubber soled shoe.
Ah, good advice on hedging a bet, I was thinking the same way. Thanks so much for your reply, it helps me to get an expert opinion.
I'll cut some off the most mature looking heads now & take a chance with the rest.
Thanks for the picture and description for de-gluming the grain!
I don't feel like an expert. I'm a subsistence farmer. I grow grain, and make due as best I can.
This morning I harvested the rye. It was just starting to shatter, but was still too damp to thresh in the field. So I walked down the rows, and grasped 10 to 20 stalks together, and chopped them off with a pair of secateurs. Then threw them onto a piece of canvas that I dragged along the row. It took me about 40 minutes to harvest 150 row-feet. The seed heads were about 4 to 5 feet tall, so NO BENDING OVER!!! I'll let them dry for a few days on the canvas before threshing.
Then I mowed the straw down, which will reduce the number of propagules produced by the weeds (mostly bindweed) that were growing in the patch.