Farmer Focus: Heat and rain aid Californian crop growth

Spring is upon us and things are great in northern California.

We have had a substantial amount of rain and have continued to get rain every few weeks. This is combined with a moderate amount of heat, ranging between 60-70F (15.5-21.1C).

The two combined have added to nice growth for crops.

On our dairy we grow mixed grasses for silage. The crop is rye, triticale, vetch, peas, barley and oats.

It is nearly ready to chop, we are just waiting on the custom harvest company. Some of the early heat led to the heads coming out early, but this year’s weather has led to increased tonnage.

See also: Spring California rains lengthen grazing

We have many other spring projects going at the moment.

Our egg business is thriving. We are still working on a processing room on our ranch. This past week we began to process and pack in our new room, although the building is not finalised.

We purchased a machine made by a US company called National Poultry. Our machine is designed for the small but “commercial” producer.

See also: Read more from the Livestock Farmer Focus writers 

This past week we processed about 150 cases on farm and also had product being processed with a co-packer while we slowly got used to processing and packing ourselves.

Things went well in the new processing room. With five to six employees we are packing nearly 10 cases/hour. I would like to get that number doubled.

See also: Pressures of launching organic egg brand

We still have to implement the vacuum-packing arm, as we are packing only by hand at this time.

We are selling our product to numerous outlets but are looking for a consistent outlet for our off-size eggs, mediums and jumbos.

Additionally we just began building a new hay and equipment storage barn. Measuring in at 65ft by 160ft (18m by 48.7m), this massive free-span metal barn will keep more hay stored over the winter and our ranch looking neat and tidy with all equipment kept inside.

So many projects keeping us busy every day. More to come soon.

Jessica McIsaac milks 350 pedigree Holsteins in Petaluma, California, with her husband Neil. They sell organic milk and also have 6,000 laying hens.