NDSU Extension - Williams County

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Back In the Saddle - Dry Tips for Wheat - Frost and Garden Produce

Published September 14, 2014
Back In the Saddle - Dry Tips for Wheat - Frost and Garden Produce

Warren Froelich "Back in the Saddle"

Back in the Saddle

I think this is an appropriate statement for my first weekly Column since retiring exactly one year ago. Also, just a few weeks ago a group of great friends presented me with a beautiful, custom fit, hand tooled saddle as a retirement gift made possible by them and many, many others. The saddle proudly has been displayed at the Williams County Extension Office for people to see and remind me of the kindness so many people have given to me this past year. For that matter, this kindness started since first arriving in Williston back in March of 1981. The saddle is so beautiful that I am hesitant to remove it from the rack and placing it on my horses back for fear it might become scratched or damaged while gathering cows or even going for evening rides. However, I will proudly use it during activities of our family’s annual colt production sale coming soon. Every day there are thousands of people who retire from their passion. Some are recognized and some not. For me, there could have been no better gift. More importantly, I am honored by the good will of the people that made it possible. The real value of the saddle will be the remembrance of who it came from. Not only am I back in the saddle but I am back in the office. This started last March after the 4-H Livestock Committee decided it needed help to prepare for and conduct the many youth activities associated with the fair. After seeking the approval of the Williams County Commission I eagerly accepted the committee’s request. Then in July, the County Commissioner and the NDSU Extension agreed to keep me on board. And, so for many reasons, it is great to be “Back in the Saddle”. Now back to the real purpose of this column which is to share research based information regarding plant and animal life, along with farm economics, 4-H youth, and other local educational efforts of this office.

Dry Tips for Wheat

It has been said many times that each growing season is different. That certainly applies to this year and the abnormality of the growing season is extending into harvest which started weeks ago and has been delayed due to late spring planting, recent rains, high humidity and cool temperatures. Although most growers are being blessed with great crop yields the weather conditions is negatively affecting wheat quality resulting in severe market discounts. In recent years many on-farm storage bins have been erected. With increased competition for railroad transportation from the oil industry, even more bins have been put in place. The good thing about these new bins is that they are being equipped with fans and ducts which allow farms to harvest wheat at higher moisture levels resulting in an earlier harvest. Because most harvest seasons usually occur in August and very early September, the wheat generally comes off the field at safe moisture levels for long term storage. So, additionally supplemental heat is not required, thus not installed. But the addition of fans alone does create enough air flow through the grain to reduce moisture levels this time of year. Ken Hellevang, North Dakota State University’s grain drying expert, offers some tips for the use of natural air drying. He tells us air will be warmed 4 to 5 degrees as it passes through the fan on a bin of wheat when the fan is operating at a static pressure of 6 to 7 inches. Warming air by 5 degrees reduces the relative humidity about 10 percentage points. Warming air that is 60 degrees and 70% relative humidity by 5 degrees to 65 degrees reduces the relative humidity to about 60%. This air will dry wheat to about 13.5% moisture content with just fan heat. A supplemental heater is not needed if the average relative humidity is less than 70%. For more tips go to our website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/williamscountyextension.

Frost and Garden Produce

As I write this column there is a prediction for frost to occur very soon. Our first frost is usually a light one (29°-32°F). In this case we can protect our sensitive plants with a blanket or tarp. This will provide a few degrees protection, which is all we need. Cover your most sensitive plants. These include tomato, pepper, cucumber, squash and melons. Broccoli, cabbage, carrot and radish can tolerate light frosts and do not require protection. The frost may kill potato vines but their underground tubes will be safe. When a killing frost (28° or colder) strikes, harvest whatever tender vegetables you can. Blemish free tomatoes with a pink blush can ripen off the vine. Apples on trees tolerate temperatures down to 25° before suffering change.

-Warren Froelich

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