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Going NUTS at Kirsch Family Farms!

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Our final harvest has begun and boy does it feel good to be on a solid homestretch to November...November means there is finally time to sit and have a cup of coffee without a million things to get done before the weather turns!  I am looking forward to November!


But until then we have a bit more to do on the farm.  One big thing to get finished up is hazelnut harvest.  We farm about 75 acres of nuts right now, and have another 25 in the ground that will be producing in about 3 years.  Planting an orchard is not only an investment financially, but it is also an investment in patience.  As a farmer I am used to planting a crop and having it produce for me within the year.  With orchards you can have them in the ground for anywhere from 3 to 6 years before they really start to show their abilty to prove their worth.  All the whie you are putting inputs in to make them grow strong so they can be a healthy tree for your farm for generations. 


We just started harvest 2 days ago and it has been going well.  It started out very dry this year, so the dust was thick.  Then the rain finally came falling down yesterday, the second day of fall, in true Oregon fashion.  Things turned slippery pretty fast, but we pushed through and finished a very good chunk of our orchards.  As a farmer we usually ask for rain, but we ask for a very specific amount of rain, specific to timing and amount...basically we wish we had more control!  We are hoping for just enough rain to settle the dust, but not enough to make it slick out, but enough to make the rest of the nuts fall, but not enough to make us have to wait a week to harvest (you get the idea)...just another battle with Mother Nature.


I get a lot of questions about harvest since 98% of the US hazelnut crop comes from the Willamette Valley, not many people have had a chance to see what harvest is really like.  I have posted some photos of our dusty start on, and plan to add some video as well of the whole process.  Below are some photos from whenwe started and it was super dusty to when it did start to rain, you can see before we were battling little visibility with the dust, and now I can't see out my tractor windows because of the rain...pretty crazy!





The dust was flying...then the rains came!


It's been a rough year to actually see what you are doing out in the orchards!


The harvester train.  First the harvester that picks up the nuts off the ground and puts them over some dirt chains and through a big fan, trying to clean the product as much as possible.  Then it goes on a belt into a tote, where we will eventually unload them to get them to our trucks to be taken to the processor.\


IMG_2005.JPGThese are totes full and hazelnuts, taken out of the field to the truck. 


It's a dirty harvest that always seems to be too dusty or too muddy.  But It's also a good one because it means that fall is in the air, winter is on it's way, and all of our hard work is finally paying off!!  It's a good day to be a farmer!

About the Author
Brenda Frketich is a third generation farmer from St. Paul, Oregon. She has been farming full time since 2006 and currently manages her family's 1000 acre farm. They raise grass seed, hazelnuts, crimson clover, wheat, vegetable seeds and peas. She grew up on the farm but never thought that farming was what would be her future. She left her small town to Los Angeles to get a degree in Business. But after years of city living she realized farming was in her blood. Brenda is very involved in many parts of her industry and community. She is a volunteer Firefighter and EMT in her small town. She is involved in Farm Bureau, is a Clover Commissioner, and always tries to find new ways to bridge the gap between her urban neighbors and her rural life of farming. One of the ways she does this is through this blog, and also her personal blog, Brenda is married to Matt Frketich who has also recently started farming with her. They also have a son, Hoot, and old hunting dog, Diesel and farm dog Yukon.