Monday, October 3, 2022

Drilling Kernza - A perennial grain

This was my first time drilling Kernza and it was a challenge. 

Getting the field worked down from the previous crop (forage peas overrun with weeds) was the first hurdle.  I mowed and then disced the ground in August. The day before drilling my dad ran the field cultivator over everything to knock back any weeds that had germinated. 


I drilled it over two days, Sept 7 and 8th. The seed is very small, approximately 63,000 seeds/lb and I was applying it at a rate of 15 lbs/acre. My 750 grain drill has a hard time metering out seeds at that low rate, even with the half speed gears installed. I calibrated the drill by hand several times prior to planting and started drilling a conservative amount/acre, not wanting to run out of seed on the 25 acre field. This meant I had to go over the field 2.5 times to use up the available seed. It was very tedious.


Fast forward to today, when I went out to check on the growth. We've had a bit of rain, enough to germinate the kernza. To my eye, it looks like a poor stand, but I have no idea what a good stand of kernza should look like. We'll see how it comes back next spring. The plan is to harvest the first crop next August. 


I underestimated how much work it would take to put this seed into the ground. I've been a part of several conferences and presentations about the possibilities for this crop. All of them seem to gloss over the actual amount of hard work, with so many uncertainties, that is needed to produce this. 

No comments:

Post a Comment