Monday, July 13, 2015

Grass seed Harvest: How to Know When to Swath the Grass.

If you are looking for blueberry u-pick/stand information, check the 2 previous posts.  Yes there are TONS of berries available to be picked!

It is harvest time for our grass seed fields.  Beforehand, we check each field to see which one is the most ripe. 

Below is the grass seed.  To check if a field is ready, we randomly pull off some seed heads.  If they have any green color they are not ready.  If they look tan, then you push down in the middle of the seed to see if it feels firm or doughy.  We want it firm and that means it is ripe!

There are other methods of checking ripeness, including microwaving the seed but above is how we did it this year.

To start harvest, we have to cut the grass and lay it into rows.  We use a swather for this and the process is called swathing.  We swath the grass late at night and early morning because there will be dew on the fields.  The wetness helps keep the seeds attached to the stem so we don't lose any on the ground.  If we did it in the heat of the day, it could just shatter right off.  We have no way to harvest the seed once it hits the ground.  We let it lay in rows for 10 days to dry out. 

The combine then picks up the rows and separates the seed from the straw.  The seed gets collected into a big bin in the combine and the straw gets discarded out the back.  Next, the seed gets dumped into a big truck.  The truck will take the seed to a seed cleaning plant.  There the weed seeds and grass seeds that are blank (not viable) get removed so only pure seed remains.  It gets bagged up, then eventually makes it to the consumer to plant their lawns, etc! 

Above is the swather we use.

What I learned one of the mornings we swathed is that it gets light before 5am and there was lots of thunder over Mt. Hood.  And that I will definitely sleep really well tonight after starting at 2am!  But I do love this time of year!!

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