Typically, this time of year farmers are gearing up for harvest, instead this year we are playing a bit of a waiting game. One bit of evidence to support that thought is that we sold more tickets for Farm Science Review this year than in the last two combined. Other than some hay baling being finished up and specialty crops being harvested we are looking well into October before there will be much action in the way of corn or soybean harvest.
Travelling around the area some soybeans are beginning to yellow. In some instances that yellowing is a bit premature due to crop stress. A late frost would certainly be appreciated by farmers in this northwestern corner of the state. For the weather station in Wauseon, 2012 was the only year in the last decade that had a killing frost prior to October 15. The latest USDA crop report did lower the projected national yield about a bushel from the last report’s projected 169 bushels per acre average. Here in Henry County I do think that while there will be fields at or above that projection, there will certainly be many below it as well.
I’m not sure that picking walnuts is a popular here as it is in southern Ohio, but it is time for them to be falling from trees. If you want to harvest the nuts, you may allow the nuts to fully ripen and fall to the ground, or the nuts can be shaken from the tree when you can dent the hulls of several nuts on the tree with your thumb. Before gathering “wild” nuts, it is a good idea to crack a few to see if the kernels are full.
Hulling quickly after harvest is important because the stain in the walnut hull will go through the shell and discolor the kernels and make them strong tasting. There are many methods for hulling black walnuts. A hand operated corn sheller will work fine for small quantities. Nuts can also be pounded through a hole in the board. If all else fails put them in feed sacks and drive over them on the gravel driveway.
After hulling, wash nuts in a tub of water, deep enough for the good nuts to sink to the bottom. Floaters are generally not well-filled. To dry, place the walnuts in shallow layers (not more than three deep) in a shaded, cool, dry area with good air circulation. The best temperatures for drying and curing are 50-65 degrees. Drying takes about two weeks.
Stay tuned next week for an opportunity to sit down and discuss some impending farm management decisions as well as to recap the stressful year that has been 2019 with local and state elected officials. I’ll end this week with a quote from John Dryden: “Beware the fury of a patient man.” Have a great week.