Planting/Harvesting Small plots of wheat? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

DOes anyone have experience in planting small plots of wheat, and harvesting them? I have 100 pounds of red winter wheat, and thought about trying to plant small patches 50 x 50? 100 x 100? and harvesting them. Is it possible? My husband laughed and said he can picture me with a set of hand grass clippers clipping the heads off, etc. I thought about double use of the wheat, using the straw if I could cut it with a mower? and bag it, perhaps for bedding for the critters, or mulch for the garden. Just have no experience growing grain, and not sure where to start on small plots that would not be accessable to a harvester. Any thoughts? Thanks! Jan

-- Janice Bullock (, January 27, 2000


Janice, of course it is possible. I decided to try it myself last year but found out very quick that it was a lot of work! Not the growing but the harvesting! I cut some of it down and threw it in my chicken pen and the rest we ended up just mowing down and doing nothing with. But if you are willing to work it is possible. I have a very bad back and it was too hard for me to do and my husband, like yours, laughed at me so he was no help! For my situation, I find it much easier just to buy the wheat berries, they are fairly inexpensive, and save my energy for something more worth while in time and money!

-- barbara (, January 27, 2000.

I had about 2lbs wheat berrys that the moths got into so in disgust i threw it onto one of my raised beds ,well it is growing great and ive been cutting it for my angora rabbits and chickens, its been great greens for them this winter. Its also kept my soil from getting compacted from the rain, This spring i plan on letting the chickens rototlie it into the soil[portable dog run]. The goats have enjoyed it as a snack to. So from something i was just going to toss it has served a couple good uses.

-- kathy h (, January 27, 2000.

I've never done this, but I always wondered why small plots couldn't be cut with a weed wacker? Sue

-- Sue Landress (, January 27, 2000.

I grew about a half acre of spring wheat 2 or 3 years ago and it did grow wonderfuly. As the grain matured and we were thinking about how to harvest it one of our nasty summer thunderstorms blew in and knocked most of the field flat! We decided to turn that years lambs in and harvest the wheat in the form of lamb chops!I have also determined that it is better for our family to buy the 50 # bags and direct the energy into something more profitable to the homestead.

-- mike (, January 28, 2000.

YES!!!! NO!!!!! How's that for the definitive answer? I don't know if you have soft or hard red winter wheat, but the problem is the "winter" in the name. Normally that would be planted in the fall, harvested the following summer. What would happen if it was planted in a garden in the spring, and cared for as a garden crop? I don't know.

I don't know where you live, so I don't know what you'll have for heat/day length/moisture in a normal growing season. Might go ahead and try some this spring and plant some more this fall. When? you ask, well Montana is generally recomended to plant before Sept 1, Kentucky either Oct 1-15, or later than Oct 15. Narrowed that right down.

I'd broadcast it in a bed or in a wide row. Don't run over it with a mower, lose all your hard work. Cut it with, well, yes, grass clippers, a sickle bar mower, or a scythe. The scythe will hurt you. If at all possible get someone to show you how to use it and give your body a break. You can also cut yourself. Ideally, use a grain cradle too. Now I bet you want to know when to harvest. At or below 14% moisture. But for us little people, just towards the end of the season grab a head every now and then and look at it, feel it, stick your fingernail into a grain, chew some grains. The problem is to recognize when it is ripe, so taste test some you've already got.

You can clip off just the heads, cut it off at the base and tie it up in sheaves, cut it at the base and whack/break off the heads. If you know anybody who does wheat weaving, you might be able to find a helper for a share of the harvest. Sheaves can be used as decor, or throw a bundle to the livestock as part of their feed and get some bedding when they're done.

When all your wheat goes down, it is refered to as "lodging", always a great sight in your garden. Lodging is caused by wind, romping critters or whoever/whatever is making those crop circles. Lot of the time a lodged crop will recover fairly well. For a farmer with a big combine any lodged areas represent a pretty big loss, for a gardener who's working pretty much by hand anyway it isn't much of a problem.

Back in the 70s, wheat grass was the rage. People would sprout and juice wheat for themselves, horse racers had huge sprouting cabinets to produce lots of sprouts for the horses, other livestock breeders also swore by it. I don't know what variety of wheat was used, but can't see why it would matter. 100# of wheat would be an awful lot of sprouts, but it would use some of it. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (, January 28, 2000.

Gerbil, they still sell wheat grass shots at juice bars in calif, even sell a juicer for wheat to use at home.What once was old becomes knew again.

-- kathy h (, January 28, 2000.

I wrote an article last August that is in the archives under the Misc. section. It should answer all of your questions of wheat growing on small plots.

-- greenbeanman (, January 29, 2000.

You are all great! I want to ask Gerbil if she will formally adopt me! I am probably lots older than you, Gerbil (51), but we could work something out! I have certainly learned a lot from all the answers and suggestions. We live on the plains of Colorado, where it is dry, cold and windy during the winter. Not much moisture, and seldom do we get snow during the winter, so have to water the fruit trees and bushes as well as any evergreen types. They do grow winter wheat north of us on the Nebraska border, so maybe I will try a little this spring and a little in the fall just to see what happens. Thanks again for all your responses! I'll let you know what happens. (Gerbil, I'm serious now, Maybe I should adopt YOU!) Jan

-- Janice Bullock (, January 29, 2000.

kathy h, I've still got my bell bottoms and love beads. The love beads still fit.

Janice, you're done teething and you're potty trained. I'll take you. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (, January 29, 2000.

Gene Logsdon wrote a book about small scale grain raising (that mey have been the title of it but I am not sure) back in the 1980's I think, and it would be worth finding at the library or used book store for more information. It is out of print as far as I know.

-- Jim (, January 31, 2000.

Logsdon's book is called Small-scale Grain Raising and it is out of print. I even wrote Logsdon trying to get a copy. Good luck finding a used copy. They are scarce as hens teeth and cost over $50. If you see one anywhere cheap snag it cause you can sell it for big $$$. He does not ever plan on reissuing it either.

-- BILLIE (, January 31, 2000.

Billie is right- Logsdon's book goes for a lot of money now. Did a search on, and found 2 hardback copies at $79 and $125. Wow!! Sure am glad I have my copy from years ago, and a spare paperback edition that I found recently. It is a good book, with lots of info, but I certainly don't think it is in the realm of big-buck "collectable" books.

-- Jim (, February 02, 2000.

I ran across Logsdons book at our local resale shop. I paid .50$ for the paperback. I had no idea what a bargain it was. I have grown wheat as a cover crop only. I tilled it into the soil in the spring.

-- Susan DeFrancisco (, February 02, 2000.

Well...a lot to think about. Thanks for all the input. I had no idea Logsdon's book was such a hot item either. My sister has a used paperback book store, I may have her check and keep an eye out for copies of the book. IF and that's a big IF, she ever gets any in, I'll let you all know, and anyone who needs/wants one can have it at a more reasonable cost. May never happen, but then you never know. Thanks again for all the ideas. Jan

-- Janice Bullock (, February 02, 2000.

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