White Sonora Wheat ~ Update

White Sonora WheatHello my dear friends,

While I was perusing through my garden earlier this week, I was drawn to a delicate rustling sound similar to that of dried leaves blowing about in a gentle breeze. This calming sound was emanating from the direction of my wheat bed. As I approached the bed, a little wind kicked up initiating a glorious concert of wheat seed heads gently rubbing against each other. Ah… the music of wheat. A chorus in perfect unison and quite mesmerizing I might add.

As I stood there, I closed my eyes for a moment to soak in every beautiful note and recalled a scene from a movie. You know the scene… the one with a person running euphorically through a wheat field, usually in slow motion, with open hands brushing away the wheat stalks as they gleefully pass by. Well, folks, I’m sure someone somewhere has experienced this glorious moment, but for me, twirling about and leaping into the air like a gazelle would have been a sight to see but definitely a challenge in the 3-foot space between my raised beds and pile of rocks. Anyways, my neighbors must already think I’m a tad bit bonkers for the amount of time I spend in my garden. Touching everything at least twice, taking photos, staring at leaves, etc. No need to fuel the gossip further.

Well, with all this gardener bliss goin’ on, I thought a wheat update was in order. Especially since wheat harvest time in my garden has started (big claps!). Yes… the day has finally arrived.

Update

Before I start in with the wonderful details of my wheat update, be sure to check out my two previous posts on White Sonora Wheat… Heirloom White Sonora Wheat provides an in-depth look at the history and current preservation efforts for this beautiful heirloom wheat ~and~ my How To Grow White Sonora Wheat post for information on how I planted my wheat along with other great tips and growing information.

To date, my wheat continues to grow beautifully in its 10’x10′ bed, of which 8’x10′ is dedicated to its growing space. In my previous post, you can see my White Sonora Wheat planting got off to a great start. It emerged green, healthy and super happy. This was one of those “gardener grin” moments for me. I was standing there admiring my tiny little wheat seedlings, then it happened. This silly grin came across my face and I just could not stop smiling. I was feeling so pleased with myself and tickled over the fact that my gardening skills just took a giant leap forward… “I’m actually growing wheat”. I was so overcome with joy that I actually almost giggled πŸ˜€

Well, my jubilant moment only lasted a few short days. See, soon after my wheat began to emerge, the birds decided it was an all you can eat buffet and wanted to nibble up all my hard work. Those little winged wheat tyrants were bold in their thieving efforts. Initially, Pinny did a fine job of scaring them away, but they quickly learned that the black and white barker (a.k.a. Pinny) was unable reach them in the middle of the 10’x10′ raised bed. So they hastily returned to their wheat peckin’ even with me standing just two feet away. Bold.

Well I was just as determined, and refused to let those chirpin’ wheat eaters undo my planting. Without hesitation, I quickly setup a short EMT frame using scrap pieces from our bird netting frame and secured a couple of large sections of bird netting onto it.Β  It worked like a charm.

Lessons Learned #1 ~ protect broadcasted seed from birds immediately after planting and keep in place until wheat is about 6-inches tall.

Protecting Wheat From Birds

Protecting Wheat From Birds

White Sonora WheatUnder the protection of the bird netting, my White Sonora Wheat continued to grow beautifully throughout the winter. By the end of January, my wheat had grown to about 12-inches or so and I decided it was safe to remove the netting. Then, the rain came and hung out for several days. By the time the storm passed, my thick lush mini wheat field was a tousled mess. It looked like a large critter trampled through and bedded down in it. Either that or aliens decided to visit and make teeny tiny crop circles in my wheat :/

White Sonora WheatThe obvious conclusion…Β  my wheat lodged over. Drats!

Lessons Learned #2 ~ rethink the whole broadcast”slash” row planting strategy ~ clearly, a lighter hand is needed when broadcasting wheat seeds.

White Sonora WheatWhen the rain/lodging issue occurred, my wheat was well into the tillering growth stage. For those of you interested in learning more about the actual growth stages for wheat, check out this link.Β  The two most popular systems used are the Zadoks and Zekes systems, with the later being the most utilized. Being a newbie wheat grower this year, I chose to reference the Zadoks system. It outlines quite a bit more of the details than the high-level Zekes system.

White Sonora Wheat

White Sonora Wheat

My White Sonora Wheat in the tillering stage ~ the wheat is also a great “lady bug nursery” πŸ™‚

My White Sonora Wheat stayed a tousled mess for several weeks, but by early March, as the temperature began to warm and dry up everything, I noticed that my wheat was beginning to “perk up” in sections.

White Sonora WheatWhite Sonora WheatThis was also the time I began to notice several flag leaves emerging along with a small handful of wheat seed heads. I had read that White Sonora Wheat was a “whiskerless” (a.k.a. awns) wheat. Despite this fact, the emerging seed heads clearly had whiskers! Hmmmmm.Wheat Seed Head

Wheat Flag LeafWheat Flag LeafWheat Seed HeadObviously the wheat seed heads with awns were an impostor wheat that somehow got mixed into my batch of White Sonora Wheat seed. Thankfully, my White Sonora Wheat flag leaves and seed heads began to appear about two weeks later. Phew!

Here’s a couple of detailed photos I took to help all of the other newbie home wheat growers out there. These pics show the flag leaf and the all important sheath. The sheath is where the wheat seed head forms. As the seed head grows, the sheath will swell and finally split open to reveal the seed head inside (see photo of impostor wheat above).

White Sonora WheatWhite Sonora WheatAs my wheat grew taller, I set up some bamboo stakes and supports on the south end of the bed where I had a 2-foot section of veggie plants growing. The wheat had flopped over and was starting to cover my veggie plants. Definitely not a good thing for my veggies.

White Sonora WheatWell, no sooner did my wheat begin to prop itself back up, the warmer days of early Spring brought with it a hoard of aphids right to my wheat bed. The rest of my garden remained untouched. The good news is, along with the aphids came an army of lady bugs, green lace wings and assassin bugs. The aphids quickly lost out to the vast beneficial assault. Folks, this is a by-product of healthy no-pesticide/no-chemical approach to gardening.

Over the next several weeks, hubby and I began to lovingly refer to our wheat bed as the lady bug nursery. The lady bugs were everywhere and in every stage of life. It was such an awesome sight to see. After the aphids were under control, the majority of the lady bugs moved onto the orchard leaving behind a few to keep the wheat clean πŸ™‚

White Sonora WheatWhite Sonora WheatShortly after the great wheat aphid battle was won, my beloved White Sonora Wheat was emerging everywhere throughout the bed (of course, awnless). And within a few weeks, teeny tiny anthers began to appear on the center of the wheat seed heads indicating that my wheat was entering into the flowering stage.

White Sonora Wheat EmergingWheat FlowersWheat AnthersNo sooner did the aphid issue get under control and my wheat start flowering, the spring winds came. And come they did. My garden was hammered with 50 mph winds and knocked my wheat over. Sheesh. A few weeks earlier we had removed the EMT frame and setup a support system around the outside of the raised bed by installing rebar in the corners and tying nylon cord to each corner. The wheat closest to this support did fine, but the wheat in the center of the bed was hit hard.White Sonora WheatWhite Sonora WheatAs my wheat seed heads continued to emerge and flower, some of the wheat began to stand up, again. Though a large amount in the center of the bed (i.e., the broadcasted area), stayed bent over ~ but it also continued to grow and flower so I left it alone.

Well, I’m happy to say that through all the trials my White Sonora Wheat pulled through like a champ. All the wheat continued to grow and flourished despite being knocked down (literally) multiple times.

White Sonora WheatThe reward for all my patience? Lots of wheat drying up getting ready for harvest. Mind you, only a handful of wheat has been harvested over the last couple of days, the majority of my wheat still has a few days to go. And of course, we just got rain today and I’m uncertain as to what impact, if any, this will have on my beloved White Sonora Wheat. But, as usual, I’m hopeful that all will work out and my harvest will be abundant.

When I’m finished harvesting my wheat, I’ll be sure to do a final post where I’ll go into more details about the ripening and harvesting process along with my current thoughts on an updated planting approach for next year. Yup, I’m thinking about growing wheat again next year ~ this time in our native soil. Only time will tell πŸ™‚

God Bless,

AG_Signature_Color_Transparent

 

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8 Comments

Filed under In The Veggie Garden

8 responses to “White Sonora Wheat ~ Update

  1. Julie

    Just found your blog, though searching out info on growing white Sonora wheat πŸ™‚
    Came for the whaet, staying for the blog. Love it so far! Have you done an update on haresting the wheat? I’ve seen several methods, that look rather promising! Oh, and what a small world, I’ve followed John from OK Raw for years, but never saw that video, or probably would’ve found you sooner. I eat high raw for years now, but ordered some Sonora wheat last week, (Oddly, from the same company – Bakers Creek…) as there are times I like sourdough, or sprouted grain breads. Thanks again for a great blog! Johns growing your own greens videos, has inspired me to start gardening, but love finding blogs like yours, to stay inspired, and learn. Happy (almost) Spring lol πŸ™‚

    • Hi Julie ~ Welcome!!! White Sonora Wheat is a wonderful variety to grow. I thoroughly enjoyed growing it in my garden… it was easy to grow, easy to harvest, a little harder to thresh. I had every intention of doing an update sooner. Perhaps it’s time. You’re about the 4th person to ask πŸ™‚ I’m thrilled there is so much interest in this wonderful heirloom wheat variety.

      A lot of the wheat berries easily came off on their own, but the remaining berries required a bit more than just banging bunches up against the inside of a bucket or barrel. I actually placed it into a cotton pillow case and gently stepped on it to release the remaining berries than winnowed out the chaff. Those berries are hard as a rock, but this variety makes a fantastic bread. It has a lower protein count than the red wheat varieties.

      John is awesome. Such passion for eating raw and gardening πŸ™‚ I’m glad you discovered my blog. I took a hiatus for the past year from my blog, but have big plans and will be getting back into writing very soon. Happy Gardening and growing nutrition!

  2. sands

    I was hoping for an update on your harvest. I bought some of this wheat, but not in enough time to plant it last year. It is about that time again, and I was wondering how your crop turned out?

    • I’ve been meaning to give an official update on my White Sonora Wheat harvest from last year, but until then, I’d be more than happy to pass along an update to you. I was thoroughly impressed by White Sonora Wheat’s performance in my garden. Very easy to grow and maintain. FYI – The birds love to help harvest :/ I have yet to tally up the total harvest from my 10×10 plot, but let me say… it’s a lot! At least 3-4 time what I plants and that’s a highly conservative count. I’ve had a bit of a challenge finding a good way to thresh my wheat ~ though it may be easier than most other wheat to thresh. But if one does not have the proper tools, it can be a task-in-a-half to say the least. Let me know if you would like more specifics than what I’ve provided here. I highly recommend White Sonora Wheat for home gardeners ~ especially in hot and dry climates.

      • sands

        Have you managed to find a good way to thresh? I do grind my own wheat to make bread – we love it, but don’t want to grow a great crop, then not be able to thresh. Thanks so much for the updates!

        • Yes, I love to bake our own bread, too and am really looking forward to using the old timey heirloom wheat (White Sonora) to do this. And I hear what you’re saying. Unfortunately, I have been unable to focus on the “threshing challenge”, but my bundled wheat sure does look pretty :/ I plan to turn my attention to this in the very near future. I’ll be sure to provide an update on my findings.

  3. P. Poe

    Ms Asher, will you be grinding your own wheat to make wheat flour so you can make your own bread??

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