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September 10, 2021by melissa

Bringing in the wheat!

As we mentioned in our last farm post, all the wheat is in! You may have heard in the news about wheat shortages in Western Canada due to poor growing conditions. Western Canada saw record-breaking droughts and many crops did not materialize throughout the growing season.

Ontario happened to have amazing growing conditions at the beginning of the summer. Lots of heat and rain! The conditions were so favourable the wheat became very plump ( lots of endosperm/ starch). The excess amount of endosperm made the proportion of protein much lower in the grain.   For example, hard red spring wheat typically has protein levels around 13% protein has fallen below 11%. When protein contents are low the grains cannot be used to make good quality bread flour. But you might ask yourself why does the protein not increase proportionally with the endosperm? Nitrogen in manure is the limiting reagent in the formation of protein in wheat. Farmers determine their nutrient loading rates ( amount of manure spread per acre) based on projected protein level and yield. Typically, the yields are fairly consistent year to year for crops. Farmers add enough nutrients to target the desired level based on the specific variety of grain and data from previous growing seasons. Adding too many nutrients can cause eutrophication of the water through runoff and frankly are a waste of valuable resources, which no farmer ever wants to do.  So most farmers are very particular about determining the appropriate nutrient load rates of the field based on the crop and average yield.   In short, most farmers did not spread enough nitrogen to compensate for unanticipated extra grain growth.

Fortunately here at 1847 we have been busy since the harvest sourcing a variety of high quality organic wheat from our local farmers around Ontario. We have already sourced both the rarer high protein level wheat for the bread flour and the more abundant moderate protein content wheat for the all-purpose flours and they are safely stored in our grain bins. This guarantees that the remainder of 2021 and well into 2022 you will have access to great flour that makes you proud to bake.


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July 30, 2021by melissa
It is time!

The wheat has ripened in Southwestern Ontario and farmers are beginning the harvest. The first harvest of wheat in 2021 would have been planted in the fall of 2020. Wheat planted in the fall is called winter wheat. They sprout after being planted and then they overwinter in the field under the snow. Winter wheat is often the very first crop to sprout in the springtime. Organic farmers like to plant winter wheat because they can outcompete weeds in the spring. Weed control is especially challenging for Organic farmers. They don’t have as many “tools in their toolbox” to combat weed pressure. Winter wheat does tend to have lower protein so they tend not to be as desirable for our bread bakers and is the dominant grain in our cake and pastry flours.

Spring wheat tends to ripen a couple of weeks after winter wheat.  They are planted in the spring and have to compete against weeds when sprouting. Spring wheat typically has a higher protein level. This is what we are looking for in a great bread flour!

Some rye cereals have also ripened and are ready to be harvested. Rye can be planted in the spring or the fall.  Organic farmers also like to plant rye as they are very competitive and they are great for weed control to new organic fields. Rye can also be planted as a cover crop which will not yield any grain, however will inject nutrients and carbon into the soil. Something never to be overlooked is healthy soil. Healthy soil grows flavourful grains!

1847 stone milling wheat


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May 27, 2021by melissa

Spring is in the air, the birds are chirping, the ground is thawing and the rural roads are a mess! Throughout most of the year, gravel roads (or dirt roads by slang) make for an enjoyable drive. However, early in the spring, when the frost begins to melt, they end up looking more like a mud bowl and less like a road every day. The condition of the road can become so bad, that the Ministry of Transportation can close the road and annually imposes half-load season restrictions. During this period from roughly March to mid-July, the road access is limited to certain weight classes of vehicles. In particular, construction vehicles like delivery trucks, cement trucks and dump trucks famously carry half-full trailers of their cargo to avoid becoming overweight.  The restrictions are put in place to protect the roads and their foundation which can become damaged by uneven loads while the frost thaws from the road bed. Farmers can normally avoid being on the roads with heavy equipment during the worst of the period since their fields are equally wet and impassable.

While the condition of the road can cause excessive wear and tear to vehicles, the road condition recovers fairly quickly. The frost normally melts in early May and the road bed dries up and returns to an enjoyable condition. Tractors can get back on the roads and start readying the fields and seeding their crops in advance of the summer. In the meantime, if you notice any courier trucks a little muddier than normal this time of year, it probably means they have some fresh flour onboard and just braved the dirt roads of Southern Ontario to keep food moving from our farm to your table.


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March 26, 2021by melissa

This month we celebrate Women in agriculture! Women have always played a crucial role in farming and with more machinery used on the farm, physical strength does not define a great farmer.  Women made a lot of progress in the 1940’s, taking over a large share of the farm work when many men went to war. Upon the return of soldiers after the war, there was a reversal to the “old” gender roles in farming until the 1980’s when women began to reclaim their position on the farm. Normally I try to write about general farm practices but today I will break it down and use my own experience as a woman in agriculture and the experience of my female friends and neighbours – all of us whom are 30-40 years old.

I don’t know if I grew up sheltered or completely unsheltered, but If there was work on the farm to be done everyone had to help. It didn’t matter if you were a son or a daughter.  Driving tractors, doing field work, helping with the animals or chopping fire wood. There were no gender roles when it came to work on our farm. I really had no idea gender roles were “a thing” on the farm until I reached University. I watched my Grandma work in the barn lifting 50 pound hay bales while my Grandpa loaded the hay elevator below. That Grandma continues to do field work and work in the barn, she is 84 years old! Impressive lady, but certainly not alone in her work ethic. Women like her were a role model to many of today’s generation of women in agriculture. Many of my friends have grown up the same way and taking over the family farm operations and doing a fantastic job I might add.

It is great to say that 29% of all farms are owned and operated by women. Jumping 12% in 10 years (from 2006 to 2016)! We have to thank the generation before us that began to really break down those gender roles. Today people tend to dwell on the negatives, what we don’t have, I like to look at what has been achieved and what is on the horizon ahead of us for the great Women in Agriculture!


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February 18, 2021by melissa
A favourite pastime in the country is to go snowmobiling. This year has been an exceptional season for southern Ontario trails. Trails are run in Ontario predominantly by OFSC .  They depend on local farmers and rural land owners to volunteer strips of land for the trails to run.  The snowmobiles do cause compaction and other setbacks in the fields but that is something farmers are willing to deal with in the spring so people can get out on the trails and enjoy parts of rural Ontario.

Amazingly through the support of farmers in Ontario there is a trail network that spans more than 30,000km. For respect to the land owners, the trails are clearly marked and riders are asked to stay on the marked trails. Some fields have crops that are more sensitive to snowmobile traffic such as winter wheat. These varieties of wheat are planted in the fall and the young seedling lays dormant over the winter.  Traffic on this crop can cause it to die off. So sticking to the posted trails is very important.

We hope to see you on the trails but remember to practice your snowcial distancing.

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January 25, 2021by melissa

In this month’s update, we have finally brought in our last field of corn. Better late then never! The corn, or any grain, is harvested from the field and travels by gravity wagons or tractor trailers from the field to the grain elevator. There are several different elevators dotted across the country side. Many of them are still family owned and operated. Like the farmers they serve they often work very long hours during harvest seasons.

When the grain arrives to the grain elevator, samples are taken while unloading.  All grain is graded by quality. Better grain earns higher prices. The elevators look for how “clean” the grain is. They are looking to see how plump the grains are, the protein of the grain, the moisture content in the grains and most importantly to see if the grains have biological contaminants ( Fusarium or DON ).  All of these are analyzed and the load is given a grade… just like at school.


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December 16, 2020by melissa

Grain Storage! 

Some things you may not have ever noticed. When you are driving through the country you will see different types of storage for the various Canadian grown crops. 

Silos are typically used for high moisture grains and silage type material (not used for dry grains like the ones for milling flour). They are falling out of favour to pack systems which are basically bunkers that are covered with plastic once the material is “packed in” using tractors.  The material ferments in anaerobic conditions and makes it easy for farm animals to digest. 

Corrugated bins are the metal ribbed bins normally large diameter and silver coloured (galvanized). They are the most economical of grain bins and are seen predominantly in the countryside. They hold dry material like our grains!  The bins are fabricated using fasteners and are not completely air tight. Since fasteners are used to build them onsite they can be almost any size! These tend to be the large grain bins found at elevators (the grain distribution hub)

Smooth walled bins are the bins we use at 1847 Stone Milling. These bins are welded and completely airtight preventing moisture, air or little critters from finding their way into the grain. They are more expensive than the corrugated bins because of the welding. However, the completely sealed nature of the bins make the expense worth the investment. Since they are a welded bin their diameter is limited to smaller volumes which can be trucked down the road (12 foot diameter normally the limit).

 

On a festive note.

We took the family on a drive to see the Rockwood Parade of Lights – a tractor Christmas parade! Check out this grain wagon being filled with Christmas cheer! We hope you all have a safe and happy holiday!


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November 28, 2020by melissa

Farm Update – November 2020

This is the time of year farmers have put manure or compost on the fields. Getting this organic material on the fields and integrated into the soil allows for microbes to break down the nutrients and deposit them in the soil where our beautiful crops need them! By spreading in the fall it reduces the soil compaction as opposed to spreading in the early spring. There is a fine balance of spreading valuable nutrients at the best time and damage to the land/topsoil.

Another aspect farmers have to take into account is the future weather. If you spread right before a large rainstorm event or a large snow melt the nutrients can run off the field. Not only are the nutrients lost from the field but they also could get into the streams and waterways. No farmer ever wants to see this happen!

Farmers are always considering their tank storage conditions and prefer to have empty manure storage tanks going into the winter to accept new material during winter months. This is not only good practice, but advised by agronomists. For example, any new barn that houses animals needs to have a Nutrient Management Strategy approved by the Provincial Ministry of Food and Agriculture and on average 240 days of manure storage. The 240 days allows for storage of manure during long, cold snow-covered conditions when field application is impossible.


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November 13, 2020by melissa

From the Farm

Let’s see what our farmers are up to!

The harvest is in for 2020! Well, currently 98% is harvested, left in the field may be corn and soy. It’s been a great year for most crops including cereals. The warm weather combined with the perfect amount of rain spread apart made for excellent growing conditions. This year’s average rainfall was 360mm*, 18mm lower than last year.  These conditions produced an average hard red falling number of 419 seconds and an average protein of 14.1% for the province! The falling number is a measure of the enzymatic activity in the grain with any value over 350 seconds indicating exceptional flour quality. These are conventional grain numbers but organic grains will produce fairly similar results.
*Source