Pictorial Tour of Our Barley & Field Pea Season

It has been way too long since my last post! It has been an unusually busy spring here, but even in all the busyness, I stopped to take photos of the fields as the crops grow. This year, I am focusing on our barley and field pea crop.

There is no restriction on early planting dates for either barley or peas, and the fields were ready so they went in first.  We started by preparing the soil with the field cultivator. It does not dig very deep, but it smooths out the seed bed while taking out the first flush of weeds. Below you can see the field cultivator behind me.


We planted the peas first, on March 17.  After they were planted, Jonathan set the GPS guidance system to move over 3 inches so we could plant the barley next to the peas. The barley comes in bags, making it easier to fill the grain drill if two people throw bags.  Each bag weighs 48 pounds. In this photo, you can see how we line the bags up along the walking platform to make it easy to keep track of how many we put in. It also makes it easier to pull the strings off the tops and dump them into the drill.  Jonathan was sweet enough to pose for a photo.


Once the seed is in the ground, all we can do is pray for rain and good growing conditions.  When the seeds germinate, and a little green tint appears in the field, we all get excited.  Spring is such an exciting time with all the new growth appearing. It makes everything look and feel so fresh!


Here is a little pea plant next to some barley. At this stage, the barley looks like grass.


As the season progresses, we check the fields for weeds and other things that may hurt the quality of the seed.  We continue to pray for timely rains, while praying that hail does not damage the crops. I hold my breath every time a thunderstorm rolls through!

The next two photos were taken on the same day.  The first one shows how the barley and peas grow next to each other. The second one shows how the color is changing in the field.


When the barley starts to turn from green to gold, Jonathan starts scouting the fields to see if he can get an estimation on a harvest date. He breaks open a pea pod or two, and chews on the peas. When they are green, they taste a lot like sweet peas. After they mature, they get too starchy to be tasty to me.  Jonathan does the same with the barley. He shells out the barley to see how easily it breaks away from the stem, and chews on a few shelled pieces to see how chewy they are. Both were pretty green at this point, but Jonathan was very excited to see a pea pod with six peas in it.


Saturday, June 30th, the barley and peas were ready for harvest. This would be the earliest that Jonathan has ever harvested a crop. He started by harvesting the perimeter of the field, which is what we call a buffer strip. This buffer cannot be sold as organic, since it is too close to a non-organic field.  It is handled separately from the time it gets harvested until it is sold.  After Jonathan harvested the buffer, I took over the combine for awhile.  We were able to finish harvest on July 3rd.

Two views from the combine – looking at the barley and peas at the point of entry and at the discharge.


This year had an interesting little twist. We were able to plant our barley and peas early, then harvest them early.  For the first time ever, we are double-cropping. That means we can grow another crop in the same field after the first crop has been harvested.  Our cousin, Charlie, noticed that we were still cultivating our soybeans during harvest.  He offered the use of his tractor, and his son, to disc the field before we brought out the field cultivator. Sid did an awesome job, and saved us a lot of time. This morning, Jonathan was up early to start digging the field to get it ready for planting soybeans. I took over after breakfast so Jonathan could get the planter going.

Jonathan finished planting soybeans a little after 9:00 this evening. He never imagined that he would be planting a second crop on Independence Day!  Now, we are back to the point of praying for rain, and watching carefully for the seeds to emerge.

Hope you enjoyed the Pictorial Tour!



Author: Carolyn Olson

I grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis, MN. In 1988, I married my best friend, and moved to the farm. Jonathan and I have three daughters, and will soon have a son-in-law! I love life on the farm, and wouldn't trade it for anything!

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