Northern Grain Growers Association

Locally Grown Organic and Conventional Grains from Vermont

Author: editor

Addressing Fertility, Forage and Grain Production with Farmer Ingenuity

Monday, July 19, 2010, 11:00-3:00 pm, The Beidler Family Farm, Randolph Ctr, VT
Unwilling to rest on past successes,Brent and Regina Beidler continually seek innovative ways to address common farming challenges such as limited growing seasons, production of a single commodity, nutrient management and pasture compaction. This field day will highlight some of the farm activities to manage these challenges, including grazing season extension through the use of Japanese millet and brassicas, pasture compost application, growing small grains such as spelt and oats for sale and bedding, and use of a Keyline plow. We’ll also have demonstrations of spelt hulling and a newly-completed solar tractor. After lunch, the group will visit several experiments hosted at VTC including UVM organic corn and pasture species trials, and a UVM graduate student experiment undersowing spring wheat with red clover to address Fusarium head blight.
COST: $10 to attend. Lunch provided by the NOFA pizzamobile. Please register by July 9.
DIRECTIONS: The Beidler Family Farm is located off I-89 Exit 4, travel east 1/2 mile toward
the entrance to VT Technical College. Take a right at the VTC entrance, and then a left onto South Randolph Road, just before VTC’s Red Schoolhouse. The farm is 1 mile on the left, after the VTC orchards. 823 South Randolph Road, Randolph Center, VT. (802) 728-5601.
QUESTIONS? Jenn Colby, (802) 656-0858,

Sponsored by:
The Pasture Program at the UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture, UVM Extension NW Crops & Soils team, Northeast Organic Farming Association of VT, VT Technical College, and the UVM Plant & Soil Science Department

Producing High Quality Organic Bread Wheat

Producing High Quality Organic Bread Wheat
Tuesday, June 8 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
Gleason Grains
Bridport, VT

Download a pdf version of the brochure.

Ben and his wife Theresa have been growing organic grain and milling on their farm in Bridport for over 28 years! Join us as we tour their farm and milling facility.

2009 Workshop at Gleason Grains
Ben will talk about his experiences growing organic grain including; crop rotation, weed control, and plant fertility. One of the most challenging aspects of growing organic wheat is providing the crop with enough fertility at the right time. UVM Extension is currently collaborating with Ben on a SARE Partnership grant to address this issue. We’ll take a look at this organic fertility trial, investigating topdressing strategies and how they relate to wheat growth, production and quality.
We will then have the opportunity to tour Ben’s wheat processing facility, where he’ll discuss grain harvest, storage, seed cleaning, and his milling operation.
The workshop fee is $10.00 per person

Lunch will be provided by the NOFA pizza oven

For more information or to register by June 1, please contact:

Phone: 802-524-6501
Heather Darby or Erica Cummings

Services Offered

John Martel’s Custom Tractor Works
I have a Farmall H equipped with a 3 pt hitch and a 2 bottom plow. I can efficiently turn over small and irregular shaped fields or plots.
I can also disc harrow and brush hog.
For gardens or test plots I have a compact tractor with a 4 foot rototiller.
Call 1-802-782-1077 after 5 pm

Used Equipment

For Sale: Hesston 1014 mower; 12ft cut, conditioning, rolls
removed, for use as a grain swather: $600.00. John Deere 443
corn head High Tin -$1,000.00. Adapter plate for a John Deere
5000 series; self-propelled chopper to John Deere combine
heads- $1,500.00. Contact: Ken Van Hazinga (802) 897-2423

Growing Organic Small Grains in the Northeast

Click here to read the latest research from the University of Maine Extension on growing organic small grains in our region.

Organic Fertility for Winter Wheat

Organic Fertility for Winter Wheat—First Year Results
Susan Monahan and Sid Bosworth1

Research on the effects of variety and organic sources of fertility for winter wheat production and bread quality is currently in its second year at the University of Vermont. The study is being conducted at the UVM Horticultural Research Farm in South Burlington, VT and the Cornell Baker Research Farm in Willsboro, NY.

A randomized split block design with four replications was used at each site. The results reported in this article were recorded at the UVM Horticultural Research Farm from the first year. Soils at the Hort. Farm are a loamy sand, and the test plots were irrigated as needed. Winter wheat was seeded on September 19, 2007 at a rate of 2 bushels/acre in 4’ by 25’ plots. The wheat was harvested on July 29, 2008 with a small plot combine.

Three hard red winter wheat varieties (Harvard, Maxine, and Zorro) were compared within nine fertility treatments (see below). The three cover crop treatments were planted in mid June and plowed down in late August.

Fertility Treatments
1. Cover Crop of Soybeans, contributed 5,596# d.m./acre
2. Cover Crop of 25% Oats/ 60% Peas/ 15% Vetch, contributed 3,566# d.m./acre
3. Cover Crop of 60% Rye/ 40% Red Clover, contributed 2,502# d.m./acre
4. Finished dairy manure compost (tilled in just prior to seeding, at a rate to provide 50 lbs. of nitrogen/acre)
5. Fresh cow manure (same management and N rate as Treatment 4)
6. Chicken manure compost (same management and N rate as Treatment 4)
7. Chilean Nitrate – (50 lbs of N per acre, split application – half in the fall at seeding and half in the spring at pre-anthesis)
8. Chilean Nitrate – (50 lbs of N per acre, split application – half in the fall at seeding and half in the spring at post-anthesis)
9. Control—no treatment

Although it rained often last summer, the wheat did not lodge. Harvard’s average yield was 1,534 lbs/acre, significantly higher than both Maxine—1,327 lbs/acre—and Zorro—1,264 lbs/acre.

Wheat grown with the soybean cover crop and cow manure amendments was the highest yielding—both treatments yielded over 2,000 lbs/acre. Also high yielding was the wheat grown with chicken manure (1,926 lbs/acre) and the cover crop of Oats, Peas, and Vetch (1,875 lbs/acre). Further analysis on nitrogen availability throughout the growing season will aim to explain the differences in yield observed here. Look for future results on protein and grain quality based on the effects of these organic fertility treatments.

1 Graduate student and Associate Professor, Plant and Soil Science Dept., UVM

A Vermont Farmers Breeding Club: Developing Varieties That Work For Us!

SARE Farmer Grant ReportJack Lazor 2008

Broadly stated, the goal of this grant was to support the development of a Vermont Farmers Breeding Club through the acquisition of breeding skills and techniques. There is considerable interest in selecting improved varieties to develop wheat of high baking and animal feed quality and suitable for our climate. We are interested in growing and selecting from modern cultivars and other heritage varieties such as ‘Red Fife’ to develop our own wheat varieties.

From the Introduction:

To acquire “hands-on” breeding skills we will attend an intensive short course on wheat breeding methods during the summer of 2007 under the supervision of Steve Jones – wheat and cereal breeder at Washington State University. We will also meet farmers in Washington that are working on their own breeding projects. We will bring our seeds of knowledge back to the farmers of the Organic Seed Initiative and pass along the skills needed to make new varieties to farmers across the region. During the winter of 2007, Dr. Jones will visit Vermont and work with the Organic Seed Initiative to develop a 5 year on-farm wheat breeding program. During the spring of 2007, Butterworks Farm will seed a small plot with common local cultivars and promising material from the WA wheat breeding program. Upon returning from the “hands-on” training we will practice our new techniques on Vermont ground. Success will be measured by the number of successful crosses that our smaller group can make on the given population.

The full 9 page report, providing details on the crosses, the methods, and an introduction to participatory breeding, can be found 2008 SARE Grant – Developing Varieties That Work For Us. From the summary:

Currently there are few cereal varieties being developed for organic farmers in New England. To address this situation organic farmers were trained to make their own wheat crosses and learn how to make selections from their new populations under organic management. Dr. Stephen Jones (Washington State University) provided a “hands-on” breeding course to farmers. In May of 2007, 19 heritage varieties of spring wheat were planted on a Vermont farm. The plots were one-row and seven feet in length. To select potential varieties for crossing, we evaluated the varieties 4 weeks prior to harvest and at harvest. The varieties were evaluated for standability, disease, general appearance, height, head size, and leafiness. From those results the top 10 performers were selected for crossing by the Washington State Wheat Breeding Program. The F1 progeny from these crosses were seeded in the spring of 2008 in Vermont. As a result of this project, we learned the real meaning of Participatory Plant Breeding. We continue to work at increasing seed lots of the 19 heritage wheat varieties. The goal is to be able to distribute the best heritage wheat and crosses to local farmers. We expect that this goal will be met in the next 2 to 3 years.

Baking Tests of Vermont and Kansas Wheat

By Jeffrey Hamelman, Certified Master Baker

To date I have made four test bakes with Vermont-grown wheat, between February and April 2009. Wheat varieties included AC Morley and Harvard. Tests were done using unsifted 100% whole wheat flour, and on flour that was sifted once prior to mixing. I have also made comparison bake tests using Turkey Red, an heirloom landrace whole wheat flour from Kansas.

All the doughs were made using only natural sourdough for leavening (no commercial yeast was used). Formulation for the doughs was as follows:

Vermont wheat 50%
Organic white bread flour 50%
Water 75%
Salt 1.9%

20% of the overall flour was used in the sourdough phase. Final dough mixing was done in a manner consistent with current baking standards—use of the autolyse-repos technique, and reasonably gentle mixing (between 130 and 170 mixing hook revolutions on second speed). Bulk fermentation lasted 2.5 hours, with one folding of the dough at the halfway point. After dividing, the loaves were shaped round and had a final proofing of between 1 hour 15 minutes and 1 hour 25 minutes. Bake temperature was hot at the outset (about 450˚F), and the temperature gradually receded to about 420˚F.

The breads made with sifted Vermont whole wheat flour had better volume and aspect than the unsifted breads. Neither style of bread made with Vermont-grown flour was equal to the Kansas wheat in terms of volume or crumb structure. The flavor of the Vermont breads was good, although the loaves were on the heavy side and had a somewhat dense interior, which did affect eating quality.

I was able to get some lab results on the Vermont flour (and was provided with test results on the Turkey Red wheat from the mill). It was clear from the results that the protein level was (barely) adequate for bread making (10%), but the falling number was low (204), and no doubt this resulted in an elevated level of amylase activity in the dough, which ultimately contributed to its density and relatively poor performance. My conclusion, as a baker and not a miller, crop scientist, or farmer, was that the potential exists in Vermont to raise wheat of suitable quality for bread making, but that without reliable wheat testing (at a minimum, testing for protein quantity and falling number, and ideally being able to obtain farinograph information as well), wheat quality, amylase activity, and overall suitability for bread making will always be a guessing game.

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