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  • Jennifer is a self proclaimed country girl born and raised in Northern California. After joining social media, Jenny met a farmer from North Dakota. She followed her heart all the way to the rural prairies of ND where she is now married to that farmer. Besides spending time with her farmer, Jenny can be found with a camera in hand capturing the world around her, loves the challenges of bringing culture to the North Dakota prairie through a variety of culinary creations, and using her interior design degree to flip their bachelor pad into a home. All of this and more can be found on her photography blog: jldphotographblog.com.
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Wheat Harvest in North Dakota

by Jennifer_Dewey on ‎09-19-2014 11:28 AM

Since I shared the article several weeks ago about Why I Choose to Eat Gluten, my eyes have been opened to how truly vilified wheat has become. As I shared in that post, I believe as people living in a state that relies on wheat production, it is important we too become advocates for wheat and wheat products.

 

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In conclusion of wheat harvest, I will be sharing wheat related posts on my social media channels for the next week. I plan on using these images to share some fun facts about wheat., much like the one you see above. You can find these by following me at Prairie Californian on Facebook or finding my handle on Twitter, @PrairieCA all next week. I hope you will share these so that we can put a positive message behind the wheat we grow, instead of the message in books like Wheat Belly

 

Today I wanted to share some images from our wheat harvest. There is something truly magical about wheat. Spend the evening watching the sun go down over a wheat field as it dances in the wild and you will find yourself falling in love.

 

Some producers are still finishing up as we experienced rain delays for nearly three weeks. We finished our harvest a little less than two weeks ago. And we wouldn't have gotten done with such speed without the extra help we received from family and friends. Yields on our wheat were good, but the rain delays reduced the quality of our wheat crop. 

 

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Why I Choose to Eat Gluten

by Jennifer_Dewey on ‎09-04-2014 09:41 AM

I've written before on my own personal blog, Prairie Californian.com, about this gluten free craze. Gluten has been under attack. Gluten free has now become one of those buzzwords. People hear gluten free and think it’s the newest healthy thing they can do for themselves. I fully acknowledge and understand that some people suffer from celiacs or intolerances to gluten, but I think as the marketing shows, we've taken gluten free a little too far. 

 

I talk more about what gluten free really means over on my blog. Here I want to talk about four reasons why I choose gluten in my diet. For me, gluten equals wheat. Wheat is one of the four crops we grow on our farm. Wheat works well in our rotation because it is a short season cool grass that does extremely well in our area if met with favorable conditions. Wheat harvest is in full swing this week, so this week, it's all about wheat. Here is why: 

 

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I support choice.

 

I support a choice NOT to eat gluten, but I also support a choice TO eat gluten. Or wheat products. I don't believe in vilifying one particular product in our vast food supply. We are very fortunate to have an abundance of choices at our fingertips, whether it be gluten free products or choosing a whole grain product. So many across the globe and even in this country, aren't as fortunate.

 

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I support crops we grow.

 

I've talked a lot about our the four crops we grow. Wheat, corn, soybeans, and sunflowers and when I step into the grocery store, I vote with my dollar. I purchase products that we grow here on our farm. I enjoy things like sunflower butter (Sun Butter), sunflower seeds, Dakota Maid flour, breads, corn and soy products. I believe as farmers of the actual product, it is important we actually put our money where our mouth is and support those products we put so much time and hard work into producing. 

 

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I appreciate the hard work. 

 

Everyone on our farm works hard. Harvest started this week and my husband and my in-law family have been working long hours to get the wheat cut before we receive more rain. Wheat harvest has been delayed this year due to an abundance of rain in August. Every year is different. Some years we don't get enough rain, some years we get too much. We are thankful to have a beautiful wheat crop this year. But it doesn't just happen like magic. It takes time to plant it all, it takes effort to keep our fields free of weeds and disease, and finally, it takes a whole lot of time and effort to harvest all that wheat and eventually haul it to the elevator. I appreciate the hard work that my own family does, so in turn, I buy wheat products. 

 

 

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Wheat is an important crop for our state.

 

According to the North Dakota Wheat Council, Agriculture is the leading revenue-producing industry in North Dakota with wheat being North Dakota's chief agricultural commodity. North Dakota typically ranks second to Kansas in total wheat production.. North Dakota was the top wheat producing state in 2009 and 2010.
North Dakota is number one in the production of hard red spring and durum. On average, the farmers here grow nearly half of the nation's hard red spring wheat and two-thirds of the durum. Plain and simple, a strong wheat industry is very important to the viability of North Dakota. If corn and soybeans ever fail us, we always have wheat to fall back onto. 

 

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Image Courtesy Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU Library 

 

Wheat has an important legacy and history here. 

Wheat is a crop we have grown since grandpa was farming. It is a traditional crop for North Dakota here. In fact, for many years, Eureka, South Dakota (which is 30 miles to the south of us) was known as the "wheat capital of the world". It became the funnel into which the wheat fields of the Dakotas emptied. In 1892, when it was the largest primary wheat-shipping point in the world, Eureka was crowded day and night with horses an wagons loaded with sacks of grain. Farmers hauled their wheat, often by ox team, from 75 miles around.  Eureka boasted 42 grain elevators handling 4,000,000 bushels a year. Eureka became the Milwaukee's most profitable station, with earnings of $100,000 a month. Today when you drive into Eureka, the sign still states "wheat capital of the world". Wheat has been and will continue to be a Dakota staple. 

 

What Crops are Important in Your Area? 

As a consumer, it is important to be aware of what agricultural crops are staples for your area or state. And to ensure that the food choices you are making are indeed supporting those around you. I hope you spend some time Googling what crops are staples in your area and learning more about what makes those crops in your back yard important. 

Crop Rotation on Our Farm

by Jennifer_Dewey on ‎05-28-2014 11:07 AM

I am not sure if we are blessed or cursed on our farm here in North Dakota in that we plan a variety of crops. I think it intrigues people and even some farmers on the diversity we plant up here. North Dakota has a history of diverse crops; in fact, someone like my husband’s grandfather didn’t originally plant many of the crops we plant now. Crops of the past such as wheat, barley, oats, sunflowers, and flax have been slowly phased out for crops like corn and soybeans. But on our farm, we still continue some of the tried and true crops in our area. The reasons behind this are numerous and with this post, I hope to shed some light on those reasons.

 

On our farm we grow four different crops. And we grow these crops, honestly, because we have the opportunity to do so. Planting a variety of crops for our operation lowers our risk. What I mean by that is that in our area we can have a great short season and a bad long season or vice versa. In turn, we utilize a variety of short season AND long season crops. Our climate and seasons simply aren’t set up for a full season crop such as corn all the time.

 

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Out of the four crops we plant, two are broadleaf and two are grasses. We cycle them through in rotations from grass to broadleaf and repeat. A rotation like this also allows us to change modes of herbicide action so that we aren’t putting the same herbicides on the field time and time again.

 

The Four Crops We Plant

 

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Sunflowers

We plant sunflowers on our farm because it is a good warm season broadleaf that utilizes the leftover nitrogen in the soil from the previous corn crop. The flowers are planted in between the previous year’s corn rows. We are fortunate in our area to be able to plant sunflowers as many places around us are too wet or have a problem with blackbirds. Sunflowers are also the crop we’ve become known to produce, as my husband is well known as Sunflowerfarmer across social media.

 

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Wheat

Wheat is an original crop grown to this area and we choose to put it in our rotation because it is a great short season grass. We seed wheat into sunflower residue because as a short season crop, it does well after a full season crop like sunflowers. Sunflowers also tend to leave behind limited water so if you were to plant another full season crop like corn, it could run out of water later in the year. With a short season crop like wheat, we typically don’t have this problem.

 

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Soybeans

Soybeans are a great stable crop for our area. Soybeans allow us to maintain good weed control as well as are a pretty  tolerant crop. We need a crop that can be seeded into wheat residue that has the potential to be wet and soybeans allow us to seed in a wide range of planting dates.

 

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Corn

Corn, for the most part, is an opportunity crop in our area. If you can get quality yield and good prices, corn does very well for us. But you can only sustain so many acres in corn because it’s a hedge on risk. We plant our corn early, as corn is a full season crop, and on soybean ground because the soybeans leave us with low residue in the field.

 

I want to be sure I state that this is simply what works for our farm. It is by no means a rigid set of rules or guidelines for others in our area to farm. In fact, all farms differ. From year to year, for some farms, the crops may vary or crops may stay the same. Not all farms have the opportunity to do a rotation like this, some areas are simply not set up for certain crops. As you can tell from this post, crop choice and rotation hinges on many different factors. This year we are even going back to a crop of the past and planting some fields into flax.

 

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of each farm to decide for themselves what is the most beneficial and profitable for their farm all while keeping all those various factors like soil, nutrients, water, residue, etc. in mind when picking crops to plant. Choosing crops and seed varieties are not a choice that any farmer takes lightly. It takes time, research, and even counsel sometimes to find what is best for your farm. And for some it takes trail and error before they figure out what works and what doesn’t. It is much like anything in life, finding a good balance is key. 

We all know that saying "April Showers Bring May Flowers..." But what do May showers bring..? I'm not sure besides lots of cranky farmers. 

 

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So far this spring, we have been getting lots of rain and cool temperatures. It's been maybe a day or two where we saw above 60 degrees. Certainly, things could be worse. We could be getting some of that dreaded S-word. 

 

Since it's been cold, the frost deep in the soil has yet to go away... Add rain on top of that and you've got LOTS of standing water with nowhere to go. Yesterday, my husband and I drove around to check some fields. I was amazed at how much water is standing around. For some fields, it will be a while before we can plant. The ducks are sure loving it! 

 

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With rain and cold temperatures in the forecast for much of this week, things aren't looking promising. We still have about a third of our wheat left to seed then it's onto corn. With the majority of farmers planting 3-4 crops in our area, we require 20-30 days in the field planting. I am pretty sure we haven't even gotten half of that..

 

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Speaking of wheat, we dug some up yesterday... It's been in the ground for nearly 9 days... And this is all the growth we've seen on it. But the cold doesn't seem to be hindering the weeds, plenty of fields are showing green growth. With all this rain, once the sun comes out, we will have some serious work to do. 

 

But I guess such is the life a farmer... always anxious, always predicting, and always wanting the opposite of the weather we are getting... Most of the time it seems like we are praying for rain... This time, we are praying for it to stop raining!  

 

It certainly has been an interesting spring...Let's hope we can get back to this soon.... 

 

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How has the weather been in your area? Unsual? I know there have been lots of storms and tornados. I hope everyone is staying safe!