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1950's farming

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    Make Stuff Up

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Posted July 31, 2016 - 04:59 PM

As some of you may know, I am wanting to grow old verities of organic wheat,  I am starting out small with 5 acres of turkey red, I'm getting ready to buy 4 acres that is grass (used to be a baseball diamond) and I am hoping to start plowing here in a couple weeks.


I am going about this in a old time way, I am using small tractors, from my 20hp Kubota to around a 30 to 35hp tractor that I haven't bought yet (like a Farmall M or something like it). I am not going to be using any sprays or poisons and I am worried about weeds. Right now the 4 acres is in about 2' tall grass and 3 to 4' tall weeds. All of the weeds have already gone to seed and I don't want my wheat to grow up into weeds in the spring. I am planning on mowing the 4 acres then plowing, let the land sit for a couple weeks then go over it with a disk or a chisel. Then I will start hauling in cattle manure and fill in any low spots then disk it and plant.


Anyone know what they used to do about keeping out weeds, should I not plant this year and just keep working it and plant next fall?

Any thoughts would be helpful

The junk pile in the middle is the light poles from the ball diamond, all of it should hopefully be hauled off by the seller.

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#2 chieffan OFFLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2016 - 05:37 PM

Only two way to get rid of and keep weeds out.  Chemicals or a hell of a lot of manual labor.  If the weeds have gone to seed now the seeds will be there to grow next spring regardless of what you do,  I would mow it now with a bush hog.  Let the weeds come back next spring.  Burn it to kill everything (Yes a chemical burn)  Then plow it and keep the weeds down till your ready to plant.  Some times you just have to bite the bullet.

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#3 MiCarl OFFLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2016 - 06:20 PM

Once you get really good at farming with 1950s methods you'll get 1950s yields.

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#4 olcowhand OFFLINE  


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Posted July 31, 2016 - 06:33 PM

If that manure isn't composted, it will be chock full of weed seeds ready to germinate.

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#5 bbuckler OFFLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2016 - 09:03 PM

Need your compost at 150 degrees it will have steam coming off of it. 

#6 olds45512 OFFLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2016 - 10:08 PM

If you build it they will come.

#7 JBRamsey OFFLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2016 - 10:12 PM

He can't use chemicals or it won't be organic. There's very specific rules to be able to call your product organic.

I would plow and disc now. Every few weeks when more seeds germinate disc again. Weed seeds can lay dormant for years before they sprout, but the sooner you start, the sooner you get rid of them.
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    Make Stuff Up

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Posted July 31, 2016 - 10:50 PM

I thought of spraying but it doesn't seem to do anything. All the fields around here are heavily sprayed and the weeds are doing great!. The cotton and pig weed don't even wilt while the beans and corn are dying from the spray. I figure they used to grow wheat and other crops without sprays.

I grow everything organic because these sprays are killing everyone, that's why I'm growing the wheat to begin with, I'm grinding it for flour so I don't half to use the poison flour in the stores. We have been grinding our own wheat for over 15 years and now I want a higher quality wheat.

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    Make Stuff Up

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Posted July 31, 2016 - 11:40 PM

Once you get really good at farming with 1950s methods you'll get 1950s yields


I have a good friend who is a farmer, I cut a little wheat with him this summer to test out my old combine, he said that field was giving him 70 bushels to the acre but you half to factor in all the money he spent in spray, plus he said the wheat had a real thick stock for some weird reason, he said it was caused by the fungicide. Your average wheat sells around $3.50 per bushel and old fashion wheat sells for $120.00 per bushel ($2.00 per pound at 60lbs per bushel)
So I would be happy with 1950's yields

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#10 zippy1 OFFLINE  

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Posted August 01, 2016 - 12:26 AM

When we did wheat or oats back in the day, we had weeds to hell and back in our fields. This was in the days before chemicals were used. When we unloaded the crop from the gravity boxes it would run into a "tumbler" we called it. It was a large barrel type drum made out of mesh screen. The screen holes were just big enough that the grain would not fall through.

It would roll, driven by a small electric motor, and as it tumbles the majority of the weed seed would drop through the holes and the grain would pass on through to the elevator and into the grainery.

As for field maintenance we used what we call up here a quack digger, that would pop out the weeds and they would dry out and somewhat die. Then plow, disc, drag and sow. I don't know what else you could do other than that...

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#11 Alc OFFLINE  



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Posted August 01, 2016 - 05:28 AM

Didn't farmers before chemicals do " control burns "  on their fields to rid them of pest & weeds ?   Though not a farm , I remember the gardeners where I grew up would at the end of the growing season rake everything into the center and burn it even though they had compost piles too ,  maybe the same reason ?

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#12 camdigger OFFLINE  

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Posted August 01, 2016 - 10:39 AM

Another factor in weed control before chemical spray was to "summer fallow". Meant foregoing a year's crop. The field would be left till last in the spring to be worked giving the weeds time to germinate, then the field would be worked with a disc or chisel Plow every 3 weeks or so all summer. A lot of farmers hereabouts had a 10 year rotation going. Hay 5 years, break up/fallow year, oats, wheat, fallow, barley lather, rinse repeat. Of course, the exact rotation varied a lot depending on the farm's needs. If he had no cattle, a guy might not grow hay, but then, he might be short of N. Most of the hay rotations included a significant portion of some kind of nitrogen fixing legume like Alfalfa. If he had cattle, a guy might be inclined to cut and bale a particularly weedy field for feed if he could catch it before the weeds went to seed. Some of this green feed was dried and baled, later on, it was chopped for silage.

Grain also tended to be poorer quality in the 50s. Lower proteins, more feed grade vs milling grade, malt quality barley was hard to achieve.

Didn't kill all the weeds, but thinned them some. Basically wore out the permanent grasses and thistles.

There was a lot of focus on setting the combines too. Open the air up to blow out the light seeds like wild oats, etc.

And the grains were dirtier....... A lot of emphasis on cleaning grain for milling and seeding.

In my opinion, to make organic or chemical reduced farming work, you need to have something to do with green feed and hay. Bonus is a source of manure for fertilizer, and meat for the table.

The astute reader will note that with this style of farming, not only were the yields lower (often by half), but the actual number of cereal crops grown were lower by more than half..... There are valid reasons farming methodology has changed.
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#13 oldedeeres OFFLINE  

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Posted August 01, 2016 - 01:58 PM

Back in the day if weeds got particularly bad we would spray with a little 2-4-D, but only in extreme cases. It was crop rotation with 1/3 of the land in summer fallow, 1/3 stubble and 1/3 seeded on summer fallow, no fertilizer other than manure. Yes, yields were less than what they get today, but seed varieties have changed drastically to accommodate the use of chemicals. I like the idea of what you are planning to do and agree whole heartedly with the philosophy of trying to produce a product with as little artificial additives as possible. But as the saying goes, don't quit your day job if you want to keep making a living. Going organic is an uphill battle, although as it becomes more accepted marketing and sales are getting easier.
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#14 Cvans ONLINE  



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Posted August 01, 2016 - 04:14 PM

   Fifties farming is a real pain and extremely labor intensive. Fifties farmer didn't get rich either. You farmed from sun up to sun down. Ones of the reasons the droughts were so devastating was because of the methods and grain varieties  used on those days. 

  As you said, your weeds have already gone to seed so there is little you can do. Not even burning will totally resolve that issue. A good pre-emergent herbicide then keep working the soil. 

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#15 MH81 ONLINE  


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Posted August 02, 2016 - 06:04 AM

The first rollover of that field will be tough pulling, I bet.
Lots of great ideas from guys who remember it well.

I remember the weeds, and lots of them.
Set that combine right or your flour will have LOTS of additives with the weed seeds and they tend to be bitter.
If I recall correctly
Plow as Early As possible , disc, wait until the weeds pop up, napalm with The spray of your choice and then plant.
Gotta give the grain a head start or the weeds will choke it out. Especially the stuff you're talking about.

Good luck with your plan. You have a lot of effort ahead, but I'm sure you will reap (pun intended) the benefits.
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