With slightly bigger batches of seed for the individual varieties and almost 6kg of some of the blends, Steve and Tania enlisted the help of Stretch and his super adorable trial plot air seeder to plant the next plot. It was June 2021. By this time, we had already made some decisions on a few of the grain varieties. Steve and Tania already had fantastic and delicious rye they grew each year so there wasn’t any need to keep going with these other ryes. The triticale wasn’t well suited to their paddocks and business goals so they were put aside for another time.
The Yecora red wheats, purple straw wheats and light purple wheats were all combined to create blends of their different types. The light purple wheat blend included two durum wheat varieties that shared a similar light shade of purple, had similar sized grains and threshing ability, and the Triticum Aethiopicum in particular started out vigorously, making a good ground cover spread to suppress the weeds. There were a few other varieties that were kept separate as they had interesting colours, growing patterns and yields which piqued everyone’s interest and it was agreed we’d continue these as individual varieties.
The grains were planted out in larger runs, which meant it was time for the big leagues, hand weeding would be pretty difficult and we needed to see how the grains would go in the real world of farming. Steve and Stretch planted out all the grains, the little air seeder definitely made life a bit easier than doing it by hand. The trial plot area had doubled if not tripled in size, this year surrounded by beautiful peas. Steve and Tania use peas and other nitrogen fixing plants as cover crops in between growing broadacre crops as part of their Biodynamic farm practices. They also green manure vast areas of multi-species crops (approx. 450 Hectares annually) or leave a paddock to fallow to allow the soil to rejuvenate before the next oat, lentil, wheat, spelt, barley or rye is planted.
As the season went on, the favourites were beginning to show as some runs were weeded a little bit more than others. This was only to begin with as once they started to stand up above the weeds, they were left to their own devices. Fair to say Tania carried the team on weeding. I managed to weed half a row during my visit, not realising I’d chosen the most dense and compact section. Jackie was immediately benched due to being 7 months pregnant and put on puppy control as the dogs still seemed to find the trial plots delicious.
Steve and Tania felt the trial plot, which had been positioned in the same paddock as last year, would’ve been better suited to the paddock next door due to the unexpected weed pressure. Weeds, at best can only be managed not controlled in a Certified Biodynamic system so sometimes Steve and Tania miscalculate the weed pressure. Either way the runs were looking green and healthy and seed heads were beginning to develop, some were a bit thinner than others which might be an indication of them struggling to keep up with the weeds or maybe not handling the season as well as some of the other varieties. As two bakers who have only started scratching the surface of grain growing, we thought it all looked amazing and were just happy to watch the green rye stalks dancing in the wind.
(with edits from Tan & Jac)