Thursday, September 29, 2011

More harvest updates

We've machine picked the hazels here in Minnesota for the second time; one week after the first picking, and the results were again- better than anticipated. Many bushes which refused to be picked the first time, were very successfully machine picked on the second pass.

Right at the moment, though, our next emergency has arrived. We work with two other crops here, as not too many folks realize; chestnuts and hickory hybrids are also quite important to us.

Because of the rather strange growing season, we've been unsure until quite recently whether we would get any chestnut crop this year or not. They flowered extremely late, in mid July, and developed slowly, as from extreme heat we shifted to cool drought.

All these nut crops have the ability to alter their ripening behavior, from year to year. This year, the chestnuts have decided to all ripen at once; early and late varieties; and in a hurry; many of the nuts now dropping are not fully colored.

Then, today- we've had heavy winds; steady at over 30 mph, gusts over 45 mph, all day-

(the quality of this video was low to begin with; shot in very low light- but it looks like Blogger still has no clue about how to handle it. But you get the idea.)

Far far from ideal weather when you have ripe nuts in tall trees-
the wind throws loose nuts far from their normal drop zone; and due to the fuss and hurry associated with the new machine hazel picking- we don't have the chestnut and hickory plantings mowed down tight enough for easy harvest. Too late now. And today; it was really too dangerous to be out in the fields picking up nuts- the air was full of bombs; some of them with not-funny weaponry-

You truly do not want to risk being hit by one of these, flung at 30 mph from a height of 30 ft. Yes, you can wear protective gear, but a hard hat is not enough; you need a heavy jacket at the least- all of which adds up to nearly impossible working conditions.

Tomorrow; we hope. Meanwhile- if you have an urge to help out with harvest- now would be a really good time.

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