‘Decent’ year for ag station in Emo

Peggy Revell

Although the data still is being crunched, it was a “pretty good year” for the crops grown at the agricultural research station in Emo this year.
“All and all, it was a decent year,” said Kim Jo Bliss, the station’s research technician, noting this was the first year they tried vegetable trials.
“The vegetables actually did quite well,” she noted. “We had really good results.”
Bliss admitted she’s “still far from a vegetable person,” but lauded the two university summer students who showed a “keen interest” in taking care of the vegetables, including all the needed watering and building a fence to keep the deer and other wildlife out.
As well, with their first year of growing vegetables all wrapped up, one of the things they were pleased about was being able to supply the community food box program with lettuce in August, Bliss noted.
“There was some difficulties in that, too,” she said about growing the lettuce. “It’s like the ‘Learn to do by doing’ thing, and if you got kind of an ugly head of lettuce in your food box, it wasn’t because we wanted it to be ugly!
“There’s just things about harvesting and stuff that you learn,” she reasoned.
Carrots were the other vegetable the station planted. And with what they were able to grow, they even ended up supplying all the carrots for the Rainy River Cattlemen’s Association’s 50th anniversary party back in September.
“So that was kind of exciting for us,” Bliss enthused.
One of the challenges when it came to the carrots was calculating the yield of what was grown, she explained.
“That’s something that I wasn’t really sure of how to,” she conceded. “I know how to calculate with grains and alfalfa, etc., but these vegetables kind of threw me off.
“But apparently it’s more about . . . you pull these carrots and how many of them could be sold?” she explained. “So if you pull a bunch of carrots, and half of them are ugly, then you can’t take them to the store.
“Then that’s not doing so well.”
And with three different varieties, the yields turned out quite well, Bliss noted.
“We obviously chose some good varieties that did pretty well,” she remarked.
With a successful first year, there’s plans for more veggies to be grown at the station down the road, Bliss said, especially since the food box program is growing.
“It’s a good place to start,” she noted.
“I’m sure that we’ll try to continue, and try to push more growers, because it’s amazing how much crop you can get,” she added. “We didn’t have a big area of vegetables, and we certainly had a lot of food there.
“So if everybody even grew a couple more rows, I think that could make a difference.”
Aside from the vegetables, Bliss said one of the “more interesting” results seen this year at the station was the green manure trial.
“Last year we planted different strips of various things, like various legumes—that’s what puts nitrogen into the ground,” she explained. “So then we plowed that in and we planted wheat there this year.”
While the samples haven’t all been analyzed yet, Bliss said they did notice visual differences with this method.
“What I found quite interesting was any plot where I plowed in sweet clover or red clover or something called hairy vetch, they were visually taller and greener and just a healthier-looking plant,” she recalled.
“Now it will be interesting to see what the soil actually had in it,” she added. “They definitely appeared to be a lot nicer, so is that what did it? Or what [did it]?”
Bliss said they also did quite well forage-wise (i.e., hay crops).
“We easily could have gotten a third cut off of most of our trials, but that hasn’t been practice in the past,” she said.
Late-seeded grain also did quite well this past growing season, Bliss noted.
“Late-seeded grain normally is very poor in the district, but stuff that was planted later this year seemed to do quite well,” she said. “And in some plots, as good as the stuff that was planted early.
“That’s really abnormal because usually once you get into June, you just get this dwarfy poor grain, but stuff that we had planted in June this year actually did really quite well.”
Bliss said it probably is one of the first times she’s seen that happen, but noted she thinks that happened because it was a cooler year, which remained dry.
“It seems so funny because it seemed like it was a damp summer, but that’s really all that it was,” she remarked, noting what precipitation there was came mostly as drizzle.
“I think that the yields were rather pretty good. I don’t think it was the best year I’ve ever had, but it was definitely a really good year,” she reiterated.
“I think we’re going to see some improvements in our yields just because next year, the talk is that we’re getting what we call a plot combine,” she added. “It’s the same as a combine you’d find on a farm, only it’s going to harvest my 5’ by 10’ blocks of grain and so that should result in a little more accurate and less seed loss.
“So that will help the station’s data.”
Bliss presented a brief report of the station’s results during the annual meeting of the Rainy River Soil and Crop Improvement Association last Wednesday evening in Stratton.
For those interested in more information, Bliss noted the data has been put together into a summary, which people can obtain by calling her at 482-2354.
As well, she will be dropping off the summary at Emo Feed and is working to eventually have it posted on the ag station’s website.