Another Seed Selling Season Ends with a Splash

Here it is the last day of May 2018. I have suspended my seed selling while I give my full attention to growing out crops for the 2019 season. I will have fall planted grains available in late August. All other seed varieties should be available in mid-November.

I say the season ended with a “splash”, or rather a “torrent”. This May my farm received nearly 9 inches of rain. All this on top of already saturated soil from excessive rains in April, totaling 6 1/2″ with record flooding, which is uncommon where I live. Amazingly, I have only lost one bed of Black Emmer Wheat that was waterlogged for a solid month. I look at this increasingly, all to familiar, situation in two ways. On the one hand, I hate to struggle with extreme weather events. The thought of losing crops is never a good thing. On the other hand, it creates a window of opportunity to see how crops react to such conditions as heavy rains, excessive soil moisture, and early periods of heat and humidity. This last week has been in the upper 80’s and low 90’s. In Northern Indiana the average temperatures for the end of May used to be in the low 70’s). It also begs the question; can a crop be adapted to excessive moisture? I am beginning to believe they can in certain cases, but this is a slow process of selection and adaptation. Finding new varieties that can be regionalized is also being put to the test. This spring I decided to go all out with new trials of heritage grains, including wheat, barley, oats and rice.

Black Oats from Northern Sweden

This decision to conduct numerous trials was the culmination of extensive seed exchanges these last 2 winters with folks across the US as well as growers in Mexico, Sweden, Czech Republic, Denmark, Canada, Italy and Estonia. I also accessed some interesting germplasm from the USDA. All in all, the seed was piling up and I am not one to just stick it in the freezer. Frozen seed does not adapt to anything. Hence, this spring I set out to trial as many suitable candidates as I have room for. I am looking specifically for varieties that are adapted or easily adaptable to the midwest. Occasionally I come across a variety that is not really suited for my region but, given it’s obscurity and value I keep growing it out. This would be the situation for Hourani, Jaljuli and Xinchan Rice Wheat.

As has been the case for the last 5 seasons, any Heritage or Ancient  trialed variety that produces viable seed of at least “fair” quality and quantity, will be available for growers this coming season. In the case of the Hourani, Jaljuli and Xinchan Wheat, I have suggested in the past that these would be a better fit for the arid west. This has proven to be true as reports from growers in Colorado and Southern California have confirmed great results with the Xinchan and Hourani. Much better than my meager attempts to maintain them here in Indiana. With that said, I will hopefully have another harvest of these “regionally questionable” varieties for the 2019 season. After that, I plan to focus on crops for the Midwest, and more specifically, the Great Lakes region. One example of this would be fall planted durum wheats and hulless barleys that can survive our zone 5-6 winters.

I am also conducting  trials of 14 new varieties of rice, including new black rice, 2 sticky

Rice trial beds, May 2018

red rice varieties and some long grain upland rice. Interest in rice growing has really increased in the last few years. I predict 2018 will be a breakthrough for small scale, organic commercial rice here in the Midwest.

I want to thank all my new customers this season and all the folks who have supported my efforts over the previous 5 seasons. I look forward to offering many new “old” varieties of cereal grains, corn, legumes, etc. for 2019.

John Sherck


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1 Response to Another Seed Selling Season Ends with a Splash

  1. Rashida says:

    Good thing that I ordered some extra camelina just in the nick of time before the ordering season closed.

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