In South Dakota, and really across the Midwest from what I can see from my Facebook friends, planters are finally hitting the ground. We actually hit the ground a few weeks ago and got nearly all our corn in the ground before we had about four days of pouring down rain and really chilly temperatures. Well, chilly for this time of year anyway.
It isn't just the air temperature that can affect a growing crop, it's also the soil temperature. When you put corn in the ground you really don't want to see the soil temperature fall below 50 degrees. Any seed needs moisture and warm soil temperatures to grow. Hence the power of a greenhouse! Lots of warmth in there! That's also why you see many people start their garden indoors with grow lights on the plants to help give them a bit of a push.
The way that I love to explain planting season for farmers is to talk about planting season for gardens. The process is one in the same we are just planting a whole lot more than my "tiny" garden in the backyard.
First off, you apply some fertilizer. We let the local Co-Op do that for us. They do a great job and are really nice guys! And slap on my wrist for not snapping a picture. The one time I was in the field that they were in I forgot my phone! I also fertilize my garden, in the past I have used cattle manure (which we also use in our fields) from my heifers, this year I used a fertilizer you just shake on.
Just like in your garden we till up our fields with this big guy. My hubby's job typically. My garden is currently tilled and waiting for some tender loving care. Well, and someone to pick up the sticks all over it from our ever shedding willow tree.
And if you are like me you do some spraying before you put your crop in the ground. I really don't like weeds in my garden, and the guys don't like weeds in their fields. My brother in law spraying.
And then you plant your seed. Which the seeds for my garden are sitting on the counter also waiting to be sorted and mapped out. I am way behind on drawing out my garden this year. Farmers are typically ordering their seed months ahead of time and know exactly how much they need and what fields are getting what seed.
And then you take adorable pictures of your child while you wait for the piece of equipment to get to the end of the field to get their lunch.
Just like in your garden all of our crops have a certain amount of time until harvest. If you look at the back of your seed packets you will see a variety of timelines for your crops to be ready for picking. Without corn the shortest amount days until harvest is 95 days. That puts us hopefully chopping our corn silage at the end of August beginning of September. Right where we want to be!
Happy planting season to all my farmers out there across the country! And happy gardening season to all my gardeners. I know I can't wait to get in my garden!
Recently, it seems that a lot of the conversations I am having with producers and also consumers is all about labels.
Labeling on GMO's specifically. Or Genetically Modified Organisms. Really, it's just a bunch of Biotechnology.
California tried to pass this law last year and it failed miserably. Not because it was a horrible idea, for the simple reason it wasn't well thought out.
Here's the truth.
If we were to label every item that contained GMO's you may be surprised to see that there are quite a bit of products with GMO's used in them. Does that tell you if they are good or bad? No, not necessarily.
Honestly, it might even be more confusing than anything.
Every time a label gets slapped on something it makes for more to read, more to know, more to understand. And if we have to take the time and money to put a label on then something must not be right with the ingredients...right?
I am not opposed to GMO labeling, but here is what you need to know to know about GMO's.
However, I am opposed to lack of understanding when it comes to biotechnology and what it entails to actually get a GMO on the market. It takes some serious time and some serious money to get one biotechnology trait approved. And the truth is we have been safely eating foods that have been produced with biotechnology for over three decades
Because of biotechnology American farmers produce 40% of the world's corn on only 20% of the world's harvested acres.
And because of that we have one of the most affordable food supplies in the world. And GMO labeling may cause an increase in price within the food system, depending on what the labeling will entail. And here's a question, if it isn't GMO what else goes into the production? Should that also be on the label?
Remember I am not opposed to GMO labeling. But, I am worried about going to the grocery store and seeing more and more people confused over the vast amount of labels on one package of chicken.
If you have questions about GMOs, ask them. The answers are out there. And I am willing to help you find them and will most likely learn something along the way myself!
I am a part of a pretty diverse industry. There are quite a few options when it comes to growing food. People do things a lot of different ways. Knowledge is valuable and the only thing that will make me happy about the food that I eat is knowing about it, not just sticking a label on it.
A few weeks ago on my trip to St. Louis I was enlightened and completely intrigued to hear from some of the top people in the food industry talk about GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms). I blogged about it here, and today I wanted to talk about why I am so supportive of using GMO's on farms across America.
First off the process of getting a biotech trait approved is pretty intense. The USDA process takes 13 to 15 months for one biotech trait. And that trait is tested over and over and over.
A trait is a distinguishing characteristic. Very similar to humans having brown hair or blue eyes. And a GMO's are plants with traits that are helping us farm more efficiently. For example, last year we had a little something across the Midwest, called a "drought year". It just so happened we planted a little something called a "drought resistant crop". Not all of our fields, but we did have a few. This drought resistant crop helped us to grow a crop with little rain because of that special little trait.
Now, this helped us during a drought year…but the another great benefit of having a plant with this trait is what it could mean for climates that are typically more dry.
Technology continues to improve. It allows us to plant our crops in all types of conditions. And this could mean growing crops in places of the world where the environment doesn't always allow.
It means growing more on less land. As the world's population continues to grow so does our need to offer more food to feed them.
It means protecting our crops from pest infestations so we will never have to suffer a complete crop loss because of bugs.
By the year 2050 the world's population is expected to reach 9 billion, which means we will need 70% more food. Biotechnology allows us to farm with less water, less fuel, less fertilizer, and less pesticides.
Biotechnology is sustainability.
Biotechnology is feeding the world.
Next post on GMO's I am going to be talking about the awesome things that are happening at the Danforth Science Center in St. Louis. There are some very passionate people working there who believe in biotechnology and sustainable agriculture.
Has got to be GMO's. Or Genetically Modified Organisms. Or Genetically Engineered Foods. I wonder if they will change the acronym now? Or the simple term Biotechnology.
Anyway, it's something that has become a norm in the grocery store, in the legislative, and a top concern among consumers.
The topic is one of my top questions that I get asked. Last week I decided to take a quick trip to St. Louis to listen to some of the top players when it comes to GMO's. And when I say quick I mean I spent more time in an airport and the car than at the meeting.
But, I will have to say that it is one of the best meetings I have been to yet. The knowledge was abundant and I feel even more confident in saying we grow GMO's and I support them. Here's why.
First off the speakers we listened to are both considered "experts" in biotechnology. So, some may say it is a one sided opinion. However, it's hard to argue when these people have dedicated their lives to not only biotechnology but providing food to underprivileged countries and have made it a personal journey of solving the world's food problems.
We discussed everything from the definition of biotechnology v. traditional breeding to the labeling laws that are trying to get passed in various states (It recently failed in California).
Traditional breeding is something you will see in heirloom seeds or even in the different varieties in the greenhouse you may choose your garden plants from. In traditional breeding you basically are choosing from a parent line and select the traits you are looking for and creating a new plant.
With Biotechnology a trait is chosen in one plant and studied for years and that trait is very well understood before being put into another plant.
I often explain biotechnology as us nudging Mother Nature along. However, it was pointed out that for over 10,000 years we have been interfering with Mother Nature, selecting what we want in plants (traditional breeding) and making new plants. In biotechnology we have vast knowledge of one trait and we aren't creating something new we are simply putting that one trait into something else.
I wanted to get the basic definitions before I continue on with my findings at this meeting. So, look for more in the next couple of weeks about biotechnology, feeding the world, and the Danforth Science Center that is doing AMAZING things in St. Louis.