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03 Strawberries

Barry Mosier

Conference

Recorded

  • January 15, 2021
    2:30 PM
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Ok I think each of you is getting a handout given to you that tells about growing the matted roast system and. I do like the mad a droll system for one thing it just seems kind of natural and the plastic one the production is so good in there so a lot of advantages and just I suppose it's strong just seems kind of natural and so I like it that way. Let's have a word of prayer to get started. Kind of only falter we just praise your name for the variety of foods you have made on this earth and as we just talk about one of them the strawberries. Bless us and send your spirit to be in our midst just now we ask in Jesus' name amen. Well. Why grow strawberries we've talked about it quite a bit already and it's a few of you who have endured to the end here and but for me it's the 1st fruit of the spring and. I you know when we think of Minnesota this is what my strawberry fields looks like just last week you know the the frost is the ground is frozen solid it when we go out in Minnesota I mean if you went out there with a pick axe you would have a hard time to break through that you'd be out there even a backhoe takes a long time to get through that layer of frost it's hard as cement and to think that that will on thaw and grow things in a few months is almost unbelievable the transformation takes place over just a few weeks we have a very fast spring and that's probably why for John he's fighting the frost up in the night and I'm sleeping well and you know just because it's spring comes fast and when you're in Minnesota spring is also very precious It's cold now and you're all scraping your windows in the winter just like we're doing here now I guess and in the morning and when spring comes everybody has a certain kind of you know how they talk about calves getting out in the spring and kicking up their heels and running that's kind of how Minnesotans are in the spring you know they're ready for something to happen and when there's the 1st fruit of the spring is just really an exciting thing and so it's easy to sell strawberries and you know for me it's just exciting to be alive you know our family survived an airplane crash while we were missionaries in the Congo we should have died in that airplane crash but I'm just glad to be alive every day can you say men and it's it's great to be alive and praising the Lord every single day and so when we started our farm we called it Miracle strawberry farm because we expect miracle. To happen God is good at that he does it all the time and we do all we can just like John was saying in a previous presentation we do all we can everything we know to do but we expect God will do miracles in addition to that so. We'll expect our plants even though the ground is frozen we have straw to cover the ground but I normally expected to get to 20 degrees below 0 probably 3 times in a winter that's very cold. And this is the ground that I'll be planting soon and I can tell you the frost is down deep but in the spring we'll be planting this ground I'm going to plant about 1.4 acres of strawberries this coming spring and I'm just going to kind of walk through the season as to as it is for us what do we do. From month to month. And. When I 1st started growing strawberries there was 2 men on in our area growing strawberries and both of them were in their eighty's one of them is now 90 and he still growing strawberries he was my mentor and that's what I encourage you to do if you decide you want to grow strawberries commercially and I'd encourage you to try it if you live and there are challenges but get a mentor get somebody who is used to doing it knows what they're doing talk to them maybe help them on their farm for a season and see what you're getting into and be informed but that will make it a lot easier for you that's what I did but I thought I told my wife after I visited this man in this mid eighty's growing strawberries I said I think this growing strawberries is the fountain of youth these guys are just doing great and and they're so they're still growing in them when we started I probably started a little too big but we started with 2.2 acres and I planted I think 17000 plants and that was our 1st year and while we learned a lot and you know is much as you want to research and do things and find out ahead of time that's best but sometimes to you have to dive in and get started. So one of the 1st things we do in the spring 1st job of the spring is raking off the straw because those that Straw has been keeping those plants. From freezing to death all winter long the straw attack tracks a little bit of snow also and so we get that combination of snow and straw and that really keeps those plants alive that keeps the crowns from freezing so here's my daughter and a couple other fellows who are helping us that year to rake off the straw we have to be a little bit gentle when we Rick with these metal rakes otherwise the crowds are very fragile at that time of the year it's easy it would be easy to rake hard and you'd break the little crumbs right off and so we have to be kind of tender about it and. Then planting time and that's mid to late April I suppose I'm a tax accountant and so April 15th is a big day for me and when that's done it's time to start thinking about farming so. We get our planter out in. I have to work the ground a little bit I'll probably work my ground 2 times with the chisel plow because we're planting probably 2 weeks ahead of any other farmers in the area we want those strawberries in as early as we can get them in because those strawberries will be producing more runners and more added the they will advance more just like John wants his to get to a certain stage before winter comes we want these plants to grow in those rows to fill in and we're planting every 4 feet on centers on rollers so 4 feet between the rows and in each row we're going a teen inches between the plants and it's amazing I'll show you these plants in a minute but they're just like little bitty mummies you put in the ground there's hardly anything to them and you think that's going to fill in this field because when you when you look at them I'll show you in a minute here the field looks like after you've planted it there's nothing in it you know you can hardly tell and this is our planter and what you'll see in our planter were I bought this plant or a couple years ago after a few years ago after we bought our dog our pod there is a thing right behind me on the tractor and that's a roll of irrigation drip tape so we're running that drip tape 4 inches underneath every row of strawberries so we're watering from underneath and this is actually another solution to the problem we talked about with disease I don't have to water them on top I'm watering from underneath and by doing that I want I'm not watering all the weeds in the field that's good I don't want to water them and the other thing is I'm getting it right on the roots of the plants I want to grow so that thing has worked very well. For us and I'd say most farmers if you're going to grow strawberries you really should try to have some form of irrigation sooner or later you'll be wishing you had it although we did go 2 or 3 years without any irrigation and got long all right but in our area we get enough rainfall in the spring and steadily throughout the year so you want to think about do I have enough irrigation or do I get enough rainfall to grow strawberries in my area. This is just shows you another picture that planter again. Laying those things for inches underneath each plant for it 4 feet centers 18 inches between and you'll see that the drip irrigation line just coming behind the planter there that's 2 of my sons helping me plant and. After they're in the ground Well well I got to divert for a moment to show you our irrigation pond this was the year we dug our pond and these are some of the things that God does for us I wondered when I was starting I came back from the mission field after being there 11 years and wondered how will I dig an irrigation pond I don't have $10000.00 or something to dig and so I I wondered and I thought I talked to a man who was a who did ponds and he said Well do you have any gravel on your property I need gravel and I said you know I wouldn't be surprised if there's gravel right over here in this was right next to my house and he dug a hole guess what was there gravel and he said I'll trade you the gravel for the pond I said saw sounds like a deal to me so he dug the pond for free and so that's just some of the things that God does for us it happens all the time. So there is our pond I have about a 2 horse electric pump that I use to pump water up the irrigation lines I may consider going to some of those wobbler systems to protect for frost or do some overhead at some point in time but we haven't up to now so far we're so good and our pond is a lot of pond I've got a few fish in there even and so it's also a swimming hole in the summer so it's a fun thing to have this is just an older planter that I had this did not have the irrigation lines underneath and it still is a good planter if some of you wants I've got this planters that extra that I have if you want one let me know but I wanted to show you the plants I took a picture of this planter with the plants and you'll see that arrow John's presentation showed a picture of planting too deep and too shallow and if it's too shallow those roots are sticking up out of the ground and you don't want to be the like that so the little arrow there is that tiny little thing he's going to put into the the grabber that comes around on a wheel and grabs that strawberry plant and the root is exposed and it goes around and there's a there's a wedge that goes through the ground and that widens a spot for the wheel to put the strawberry plant into the ground and so it's nice to people going every other plant you can plant will be planting about $9000.00 plants this spring but it would be an awful job to think about without some kind of a machine to help you. And you don't want to let the roots dry out when you're planting it's usually windy but if these roots get real dry you're doing damage to them with little fine hairs you don't want those to dry out in fact we have a little bit of fertilizer that we dip them into that has like a gel on it to kind of keep them from getting too dry while we're planting. This is my wife prepared kind of repairing the depths if we see some that are too shallow or too deep we go along behind the planter and repair those as we go and then one thing we do that's important I think too is we trample right around every plant you know so that plant is right between my feet and I've trampling the ground allrounder because I don't want to leave any air pockets down there around those roots. That would not be good for the plants so we trample those down I know one man when he plants he just drives a 4 wheeler over the top of all of his new plants to pack the ground but it seems a little. Much to me so we just do him one by one having somebody follow the planter to keep the everything the way we wanted and as I said I plant jewel variety that is a very hardy variety it tastes good and another thing to keep in mind is when you're planting any strawberry How is the hardness of it what what can that strawberry do some are better for freezing some if you take them to market they won't last I've planted varieties that when I take them to market they hardly make it through the day in the market and Jewel will hold up and last throughout that day and. Be good for when people take it home at night because if it's out there in the sun most of the day it's it's hard on it. So Jules a variety next year I'm planting planted last year I should say Wendy which is a real early variety and we'll see how we do with that we want to try to extend our season not long after we plant you'll see how those plants those little bitty mummies have grown now and there's some plants every 18 inches and they're starting to send out runners the average plant for us will probably send out 10 runners each John with this plastic. Culture will get rid of those runners we love runners they're going to fill in that entire role and it's amazing how they fill them in so when we cultivate we're not just getting weeds as we cultivate we're cultivating those those runners into the role where we want them to be so that they're not way out into the role that kind of keeping them into a line we don't want them to scatter everywhere because we're going to fill in between those rolls with straw over the winter and so we want to keep them in a role so cultivating is very important so we use our tractor for that it would be hard to tackle 3 acres without some kind of equipment if you were out there with holes you would be too tired. But you'll see how close I'm cultivating you can almost see the loose dirt right next to those plants I cultivate as close as I dare to get and I use something I should have had a picture of it it's called a rolling shield I hook it underneath the tractor it has a shield about this bigger round on each side. And the that goes in each right underneath the tractor and my tractors an offset tractor in international to $74.00 so that when I'm cultivating it sitting in the seat of my tractor I'm looking right down at the row I'm cultivating because the tractors offset just a little bit in those rolling shields will protect those baby plants on each side I'm running that rolling shield right down the middle so as the dirt is coming up against the shield it won't throw the dirt all over the strawberries so I can call of 8 almost right up to them and that's really are so big a strategy for weed control is the 1st year get them all that you can don't let any weeds continue on because in future years we won't work that ground very much at all except for renovation and if we're not working that ground then there won't be so many weeds so this year we want to get that top inch all the weeds that we can knocked out all the weeds seed germinated and cold and then there won't be so many weeds to deal with as the season goes on and this is what that field will look like it's hard to believe this is the same year just later in the summer and see how those rose and member they were every 18 inches just a tiny little mommy plant the knowledge you'll see that those rows of filled in there are just full of strawberries that have grown from those runners and it's just amazing how well they fill themselves in. And finally let's see. 0 one thing I did forget to mention the 1st year we go through and every single blossom we pinch it off we want to actually put energy into those runners we want runners because that's the future of that field and so when that 1st year this is actually the the blossoms that would be ones we've planted in a prior year up to now I've been showing you pictures of what we planted that spring that we're working with all of those plants we will go through and pinch every single blossom Kloster off by hand and. It's very important so that the plant can continue to put energy into those runners and production but now we're jumping to the plants that I planted in a prior year because when I plant in the spring I don't harvest anything till next year spring. And so I've got a year of the 1st planting that I don't get a thing off till the next year and then all harvest for 3 years with my matted row system but you'll see the straw between the rows there that provides a very nice picking area for people to come it's surprising how often people come and say Well will there be any mud am I going to be crawling in the mud to pick strawberries they don't like that but if you have a nice matted roll of straw there for people to crawl on it's it's clean and neat and then they can just pick the strawberries that they want when they come so that's really what that field should look like and it's important to you'll notice there is space between these rows my 1st year I made the mistake of planting too close together jewels are very aggressive and I planted 40 inches apart and I had someone come and they said if you don't do something soon you won't even know there are any rows in this field they're all growing together so I had to cultivate some of the plants out because it was producing so many runners and I've learned now to go every 4 feet with Jools because otherwise they could it just grow totally together but that's the important thing is it needs air flow between these roads that air flow will help keep the disease ot of there if you let that roll get too wide then the air doesn't get in around those plants and then that will help with disease to help disease to calm and so you you really that air flow is very very important and sunshine you know as these most of the berries that these rows will produce will be on long the outside edge of those rows what's in the middle will be fewer of the berries because it needs ton shine it needs the air movement. That's just a picture of frost should've put that in with the challenges that we had in our last hour but that's what it can look like when you do get frost and frost we're covering our strawberries to prevent the frost and we haven't had. The Lord's blessing and success with with what we've done so far and there's the berries as they start to grow there is can be a lot of them they don't look very big as they are now when they're small they're green but they will grow and just as they start to mature they're going to turn white and after they're white they're going to turn red and what we know is that it's tricky with a you pick operation when can I start when can I open when is opening day going to be people ask us all the time and a gauge to that is. When you see the 1st red strawberry you will probably open in 7 days from the 1st red strawberry So that's what we go by as a gauge of when we're thinking ahead because you have to plan your advertising or whatever you're doing although we've switched mostly to going most of our advertising is email and Facebook pretty much on. And it's good Another point to think about if you're having a you pick operation you really need to be somewhere close to a population center if you're way out in the middle of nowhere who's going to come and pick those strawberries will they come very far we're 20 minutes from Rochester Minnesota and that's about 100000 people and there are a few other strawberry growers in the area and they do a good job too but you know we're 20 miles out and people will come that far to pick strawberries in the spring. Again with that sales on our farm for our you pick operation this is my sales tent that I set up and the main tent there is you're looking at the screen will be where we check people out I have a scale there and we sell by the pound on the farm and then an area to the left there another tent for sorting the berries because I have my own pickers coming in out of the field with pails of berries we pick into 5 court buckets for my own pickers and I'll show you what our customers pick into. But there's one problem with letting someone talk that has grandchildren and they're always sneaking ways in to show you their grandchildren so this is my granddaughter holding up some strawberries by the sign there we do have signs we put out along the road in our area so Edinburgh where within probably 2 miles of our place there are signs helping people to get to our place and to make sure that they don't get lost out in the country and so signs are important I think. And again Mike Grant Here's some more of them my grand kids love strawberries they love to come to the farm and that's kind of a fun thing and what I see is that it isn't just a strawberry farm or a patch in your garden it's family it's something you do together isn't it it's way more than the food you get out of it it's family and I think we learned some of that this past year with the Kovac thing we spent more time together with family and that's important and so it goes beyond money beyond just the strawberries themselves it's something you do together and I like that this was our family team and this year I've got 2 sons and and daughters in law and grandchildren and even my mother is there in the picture she's $95.00 and she mostly supervises. But that's our team and then we hired some workers beyond that but everyone is enjoying the experience and we're having fun together and I think that's just really important. So this was my picking team these are some of the young people I hired to come and pick strawberries and. Here I've got. A mix of people there's actually I have 4 young girls in my team. From some friends of ours that are Mennonites and they're just really good workers and good girls and I have a no electronics environment on my farm that's just not something anybody would know Bud's in that years and music or whatever we just don't let pickers come with that stuff but over the years they've got to be very good pickers and I really appreciate them very much without them I would have a hard time to do what we're doing I pay them by the pail as I said and depending on how thick the berries are at the time our season is only $3.00 weeks so we gear up for it and it comes and goes fast and so during that 3 week season during this past year. Our gross for our little $2.00 acres was $65000.00 that was the gross sales in 3 weeks so it goes fast and I pay my pickers about. Between 4 or $5.00 per 5 court pail to pick for me that's what they get so we just count the number of pails that they pick to figure out how much they've earned and how do we know when to open if you open too soon people will get discouraged they go in there's not enough strawberries then they'll go and tell their neighbors there's nothin there well so what we do is a gauge is when we can go 50 feet and fill up 5 court ice cream pail it's time to open so that's our gauge that's how we know when to open when you fill an ice cream pail in 50 feet. So these are what the pails look like they would come in from our pickers and we don't want them to pick anything with white tips those are saw our ones and not ripe and so and they're supposed to fill the pail right up to the level with the top These are some of our customers who come on to the farm to pick and we want happy customers but I want you to notice the picking trees that we use there steal picking trays and very nice handles and then we buy boxes that fit into those trays and then they can get about comfortably 8 to 10 palms into one of those boxes but I've seen people come with as much as 14 pounds but the berries are falling all over the place it's not the best practice but sunrise they just can't stop picking when they're having fun so these are the carrier trays that we use this year with course with covert we were still putting the. Santa does Asian on those and cleaning them up and all we have different check ins and different check outs and it was all kinds of procedures but it went Ok. This is just a picture of our field when we're doing picking and you'll see the flags that we use that's. I think I ran out of red flags and we're using yellow ones but all along the roads there were starting people with picking a roll when they get done picking they move the flag up to where they left off picking and then we know where to put the next customer it was a little more complicated because we did go every other row this year with the cove ahead and so is a little more complicated to pick up the roads but people like coming with their children and that's what we like to see too is families to get in that you like them to get in the family tradition of coming as a family every year to pick strawberries it's good for them it's good for us too. This family here came one day and they picked 300 pounds of strawberries that day and and that wasn't enough they came another day too because they like to fill their freezers at home but they picked 300 pounds in a day and they weren't out there all day by any means but there they really like their strawberries. This just a picture of the cars as they were lined up on the road this spring and around my place along the field too to come when we had so many cars each day coming to pick and many of I don't want to pick on any of the growers in our area some of them said well but because of covert we're not allowing any children on our place this year just don't bring any kids well we just couldn't do that so we tried to take precautions as best we could but we were very pro family and we wanted people to come. So bought half of our customers this year were new customers we do try to get the email addresses of everyone that comes so we can communicate with them in future years when are we starting our season when are we ending it what's are we open today or what's happening with the weather that's really important we post that I post that every single day on Facebook and I hardly use Facebook the rest of the year to be honest with you but it's amazing how many people check that every single day to find out are they picking today or not and what is the weather like. I think it's really important to I mentioned this earlier was my time and mine done. 5 Ok. For me it's really important to have a spiritual atmosphere on the farm you know we put up signs. As people come into the yard and. Like this one solves 9611 and 12 let the heavens rejoice let the earth be glad let the sea roar in the fullness thereof what the field be joyful and all that is there in so to me it's important that people know when they come out of the farm that this is a spiritual place and if they want to talk about how the Lord has been good to them and share that's something that we like to do on our farm. So we have those signs up on our trees I also have glow tracks that we put in every container of strawberries that goes out and as I may have mentioned earlier this year my son was back from the mission field and I hired him full time just to be in the field trying to strike up show people where to pick and then try to strike up spiritual conversations so he was able to pray with people quite a bit out in the field and. I know there was the homeschool group in our area invited him to give a presentation at their annual meeting telling about Africa and it's interesting people we tell them that 20 percent of our profits go to Mission work in Africa and every year I get people donating I get at least $300.00 a year in donations from our customers to the mission work because they want to help with that work they say this is going to a good cause. And as John mentioned we we I was going to tell you our prices and I will say that on Sabbath I just we just leave. We'd really don't even want to be there on the Sabbath because I'm always afraid people will calm. And even though I have the driveway blocked off that they will come and beg to pick and I don't want to be there when they do that we've come from an hour please let us an hour away please let us pick because we just don't let them pick on Sabbath of course and so anyway we we just run away that day after church go somewhere else we don't want to be there on Sabbath and. We charge this year our prices for one quart I know that probably if you're selling at farmers' markets you can get more but we were charging $5.50 a quart that's probably a little high across all of Minnesota they would be maybe not be getting quite that much but in our solve eastern area near Rochester. It's we're able to get that price and if people come and pick themselves we charge $2.35 a pound for the berries and if they pick over 30 pounds they get a 10 percent discount. Let's see. This is starting renovation this is an important part for the matted row system. What we do immediately after the season as soon as the pickers are done coming we're going to mow it flat mole it all off and you don't want to maul too close because you want about this much stem above the crown this that is not mowed if you mowed down and start blowing off the crowns you could use your mower from the yard and get a little too close and you would be sore you'd be damaging all your crowns especially because those rows tend to be a little higher than the ground between the rows so about this much above the crowns is what we mow them off that the whole field and you have to be careful not to moan it's too hot. One of the growers in our area this year I was nervous because it was in the low ninety's and we just ended the season and low ninety's for several days and I thought Boy I need to be more in these strawberries off but this heat is making me very nervous because I don't have that overhead irrigation so I just said I'm just going to wait another person who is an experienced grower mowed off all of his during that heat and he lost 3 acres of strawberries they just died it was too stressful for them all of a sudden all their protection is gone they're in the direct sunlight and it just got too hot for them so that was kind of a tragedy that happened but I waited and moaned my Daw mode mind off later and I was glad that I did wait hoops so the next thing we do after we mow them off we till around each row of strawberries because you can imagine. We've done some weeding maybe early in the season but by the time we've gone through 3 weeks of picking the field is starting to get pretty weedy. And so as we till ert road till around each row I tell them to a with of 20 inches and you can buy specialized equipment for that but all I do is take my 5 foot tiller that goes behind my tractor I take out the middle 4 sets of rollers and that leaves me 20 inches so one piece of equipment does dual duty that way then when I'm done tilling I just put the the tines back on so I don't have to buy special equipment for it and I have a 5 foot wheel base on my tractor and a 5 foot tiller so. That's what we do there and then some of it what we've already picked for 3 years for that we're going to till it completely down nothing left and here is my son Andrew tilling the some of the stuff that's been picked for 3 years and what we will do is we will then plant a cover crop on that because when you're putting As I said earlier strawberries on strawberries on strawberries sooner or later those diseases are going to build up and eventually you're going to have a hard time getting a good crop of strawberries without lots of headaches but the cover crop 2 years in between really takes care most of that then that disease is gone from the soil and so this is an important part. One of the next steps will be because about the tie our season ends I should have mentioned this we start picking about may be July 5th or June 15th is when our picking season will start generally maybe a few days after that and we'll get done about the 4th of July pretty much every year 4th of July we're done and. So in August the farmers are harvesting their straw I buy oat straw in small bales and that's what we're going to use because I need to get that in stock so I have it in November when we spread that straw on the fields I'm going to need 350 bales for every acre that I grow old so I have to get that straw in place you want to buy it when the farmers have it available if you wait try to buy it in November the prices will be high because they've stored it so I want to buy it just as they're harvesting they're owed sort of the field I'm right there and they make their straw and I take it home straight from there. But it's a lot of work. I put it up inside my barn. Although I think that we're going to go to a new practice of storing it out in the fields so I don't have to put it up in the barn and then take it down from the barn is just too much work so we're going to put it out in the fields on on pallets and then stake a cover over the top of the whole thing stake it down so that it doesn't get rained on so the straw already be out in the field waiting for me to spread it in November. And then in September I'm going to mow off my cover crops and in between here I've been watching. It's easy to think of strawberries I have people who come I had one come a couple of years ago and he said he came and picked and was watching all the people come to the farm and pick and he said Boy this really looks easy I think I'm going to do this but I've never seen it he hasn't started yet and but it's something you do in bits all through the season and John can attest to this the work doesn't seem to end it keeps going course he selling all kinds of vegetables also besides just this but by the time I also have 2 acres of asparagus so we've been harvesting that up to the 5 or 6 weeks up to June 15th still we're just finishing asparagus season when the strawberries are ready to pick but again there's work to do throughout the season and this gets back to another fundamental thing that I think is easily overlooked one of the reasons I started growing strawberries besides being the fountain of youth you know that I told you about earlier was that I wanted some work for my son you've got maybe families maybe you've got children it's good to have them have something to do if it's a garden it's really important then you're there working together for many years as an accountant I went to the office and worked and made my income there and then I came home but I was gone a lot and now when we're farming we're doing it together and that to me is very crucial in an important consideration if you're thinking about farming what how my training my children to work home my training my children to run a business to make an income from the land. You know these are important factors it's not just just a money decision or is that handy you know this is the family part of it is very important work throughout the year so we more off our cover crop in mid September and then we're going to till that into the ground to put those nutrients right into the ground and feed the ground and finally we're just about to the end and we're going to cover the field in early November. You might say when is that the right time I've. I've never figured out the exact right time too often I wait till it's too cold and you get that cold wind up there trying to get that straw on the field it's hard work but I do want you to notice the machine I use this is a straw shredder the verify it is called the Friday shredder I don't know if that's the day of the week they made them or what but. That was the name of the company Friday and it's a sprite a straw shredder there's a conveyor here I'm pulling it with the tractor and there's kind of a platform of plywood that we put about 20 to 25 bales on for one round around the field covers one row at a time takes us 2 days to do 3 acres and then we set those bales on to the conveyor belt that slowly turns and pulls it through the shredder and it shreds that straw right on to every roll and we're moving along as we go covering each row one row at a time and. So otherwise the idea of doing that all by hand would be cruel. I think. So and I think I have a picture of what the feel looks like after we get that straw on it and you don't want to do it until the plants are dormant and for us we think of it is in Minnesota we'd say well when deer season comes that's the 2nd week in November the plants are going to be dormant by then and but you want the plants dormant because if you cover them with straw before they're dormant they'll be using energy to keep growing underneath that straw and it will hurt your yields the next year and I think one of the most amazing things to me I wish I had the slide that I saw a few years ago in August is when all of your next year strawberry crop is being formed I saw under a microscope they cut a crown right down the middle and you could see all of next year's strawberries right there under the microscope they were all there it August Can you imagine we're going to be picking them the next June. All of them were already formed and it was just amazing to me in the size of those berries is already decided to a large degree so through the summer besides that cover crop and getting straw and things like that weeding I didn't have any pictures of that in here I don't want to discourage you but there's a lot of weeds the bad rolls system you're just going to have weeds again our strategy get as many as you can that 1st year when you can call of 8 on those rose because after the 1st year now we've got straw in those rows and you can't bring a call of a tour through those rows after that straw is on there at all ball up and make just be a mess you can't get the call of it or to go through there so we till it and renovation and then let it be so there's going to be some weeds coming up some times I have renovated even twice in a season just to get rid of more weeds as as often as I can use a machine to weed with I do it because by hand it's you never want to go out in a big field to weed by yourself it's too discouraging you want to team of people to cull with you family or some people you've hired to help you otherwise you you would just get discouraged you go up takes a long time to get down one row and it's like oh this will never end but. And actually I've got and I like weeding but in a group. So we can visit. It see. I do try to keep a border around my fields to defend. I try to keep 2 to 5 feet around the edge of all my fields I can take my tiller go right around the edge of the my field until it because if you don't defend I learned this the hard way if you don't defend the edges of your fields quacked grass or thistles will be creeping in around the edges and once quack grass or thistles are stablished out in the middle of your field it's virtually impossible to remove it because it's the rose of strawberries or there that's mixed in with the rose and you just really can't get it out those quick get grass runners or underneath there and. That's some of our Minnesota weeds I don't know what all you've got in your areas but those are some of our roughest customers that in dandelions dandelions is one thing that we do go through the whole field and take them all out early in the spring we use one of these little things you can step on in and pull the dandy line out and get those things out of the field before they spread their spores everywhere and leave their calling cards for future years. I think we've covered most. I do fertilize the fields some I use a fertilizer foliar spray that I spray on the fields I work with a company called agro k. I don't know what you might have in your area but they have organic sprays that you can have a sprayer and I just spray the field I have something that squirts $33.00 shots on each roll and. On a 4 foot center so I can spray every role from 3 angles because I wanted to get down among the the leaves and get down in the plants and so then those plants will absorb that through the leaves and that's a lot of what I use for fertilizer program but right now the ground that I'm going to plant this next spring. My neighbor has collars and he always has a. Pile of column a newer that's several years old and we come and hire him he comes and we put a lot of calm when you're on the ground and we've had very good success with that on our fields but I will tell you with the manure I realize I'm also getting weed seeds you know it's just a tradeoff we have to make because it's a natural method and we just like doing it that way when we can. So. We do fertilize in that way another thing I do is to shoot samples during the season I take some of the leaves I send them into the. Midwest labs in Omaha and they tell me what nutrients and things are in those leaves and what I'm deficient in and it's important to know that you need to know your plants and realize where you're at with your fertilization. And after that. Just all that's left is to go sledding in the pond and have fun so we get our winters off in Minnesota and we're not not so stressed then and it's a lot of fun and. Oh how did that slide get in there oh well anyway newest grandchild January 1 I had a grace. Lotsa hair. So. Just another picture for the future right. So. Anyway I think it's time for some questions about the matted row it might be something that is easier to deal with in the garden then you know the plastic but I guess the people who use it in the Guard the plastic culture in the garden also don't pay Yeah they do so. Any questions about the mad roast system. What fertilizers do I recommend you know it depends on my. Tissue sample results. There that also gives me the micronutrients with that they're at I think Boron is one that's very important for strawberries and I fertilize with the Foley or sprays based on what those results tell me so it mate they they like to have calcium and but for sure they're going to need. Potassium they're going to need nitrogen and so I base my sprays on those those results of my tests of the tissues. Any other questions I'm sure he didn't answer mall Yes. You know I didn't mention that I buy my plants from Norah's farms out and I think they're in Massachusetts but I buy all my plants from them because I want disease free plants to start as vitamin a run these things for 3 years I don't want any disease coming in with them and so no I've never ever done it with the runners although you can I have filled in with runners maybe because a runner is going to go out and then it's going to form a new plant and then the roots start to grow from that I could have some bare spots. In my field if I get plants that died in one spot you know if every 18 inches of one plant dies you've got a hole and so I might use those runners and the new plants to fill those holes but to go from scratch with runners for a new planting I would I would never do that good question. I gotta remember to repeat these questions. Well what I've used so far for a cover crop the question was what cover crop do you use I use sorghum Sudan I use raw I I have used radish covered crop something that kind of spreads the ground open a little bit and. But there's just a wide variety of choices and I haven't been as innovative as maybe I should have because there's there's lots of choices of things to grow raw and sorghum Sudan are the big ones I like to get this sort of stand I get a big stand of tall green stuff that I can till into the soil and lots of green fertilizer Soul other questions. Oh well there. Well it depends now if I plant raw I I'm going to plant that in the fall winter raw I and then I'm not going to till it up till the next spring but otherwise usually I'm as soon as I. Mow off my till up my 3 year strawberries I'm going to plant cover crop and then I'll probably till that in mid to late September so all there was another question here. Oh yes question was the straw still left when you mole off the berries at the end of the picking season yes the straw all still be there and are all really a morning off is the foliage of mostly all just leaves and so it most of those often have a 5 foot mower I Britain pull behind my tractor to 2 more off the field. Yes of the question. Yes it is so it lasts all winter we rake it off the row so it's between the rows it makes a nice bed and I forgot to mention that I try to put at least $3.00 to $4.00 inches of straw on top of my plants 6 is even better but at least 3 to 4 inches in coverage of straw. Well then the next spring I rig the straw Yeah and then they'll grow up from there and. I tried to use. 2 years ago I used rice straw and I think that it was not many people in our area grow rye and so I think the man running the combine just in the said it right but I bought that straw and I say to this day I paid for that straw 3 times because it was full of rice seed and it just seeded my entire field in rye. I was just sick the next spring when it all started to come up and I worked so hard to get all that rise out of the field. Oh it's just learning as you go right we're always learning as we go so I'll never ever buy rye straw again. All that straw that's between the rose. Yeah it would be the quick thank you so what happens to this straw between the rows at the time of renovation basically what I'm doing is and I think I have a slide on that back up here somewhere that shows that all that straw that is between the rows with my tiller I'm tilling that all into the ground and this is really good too because that's putting organic matter into the ground in a big way you think of a almost a 1000 bales tilled into the ground every year that's a lot of organic matter into the soil is really good for my ground. Because I have a heavy clay loam soil Yeah you know the truth is that the strawberry that grows out in between the rows is a weed I don't want a dollar here a cause that's going to be the place where people walk in where people crawl to pick and I'm going to put straw on and so if the strawberries out in the middle of the row it's is same as a weed to me and we're just going to till it up or get rid of it so any other questions. It's been the end of a day and we've had a lot of fun together and. I appreciate your in durance 0 one more question like I say I injected it sprayed onto the roll so each roll which is about a 20 inch roll I spray from this way in this way in this way under about I try to have at least 60 pounds of pressure on the sprayer so that it's really kind of blasting those leaves laying abdominal bits the fertilizer is getting on all the leaves and then it can fully or feed those leaves are soaking up those nutrients that I put on and so that's all I spray is not really injecting it but spring it hard with a lot of pressure onto the leaves Yes. Again I get mine from a company called agro k. is where I get my fertilizer Yes. That's a great question do you see it is there a way to grow strawberries without having to till your you know because many people are are championing ideas of no till and isn't that maybe the better way to go well I think it probably is but I don't know what way to do it in the Maduro system without killing and so I will but for sure if you don't have to when you can do things like these whole was that Dick I can't think of the name of it off the top my broad fork. Ways of telling the ground where you mix it underneath without a tiller these things are very good to use but again a 3 acres I couldn't do it otherwise and I think that'll be our last question it's 5 o 2 and so let's have a word of prayer if you have any more questions you come up and talk to me a kind of only father. We thank you for the privilege we have of growing plants and seeing the miracles that you make out of each seed and how it makes food for us to eat this is an honor and a privilege that we have thank you and praise your name and bless each one here as they go home and try new things in their gardens and in their fields and as we learn to appreciate you more every day we ask these blessings Jesus' name. This media was brought to you by audio for years a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse or if you would like to listen to more sermons lead to visit w w w audio verse or.

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