15 January 2018

Poor olive harvesting performance

The tasks of harvesting olive trees is now being finished in Spain. In our area, production has been significantly reduced regarding the previous years. Mainly, due to the great drought that has occurred in 2017. As you can see in our video, normally, we harvest about 3,000kg in one hectare and on this occasion our production has fallen and it was only of 670kg. On the other hand, we have to say the fatty performance is really good so the olive oil will be prime. In our field, where the average fatty performance is about 22%, this year was of 23.3% as you can see in our first picture.

Our friend Rafa Villanueva sent us a few pictures about his olive trees. It was planted in 1996 and there are about 1,056 olive trees (in 8.6he) using a plantation frame of 9x9. It is a large plantation frame, but after 20 year Rafa has told us that this plantation frame is the best option when field has poor soil and it is dry field. Rafa has Cornicabra variety (50%) and Picual variety (50%). The Picual variety has better production but Cornicabra variety gets better fatty performance and olive trees are more vigorous.

We like olive trees crop so much and we are planting more olive trees in our farm. We planted 600 olive trees last year and this year we will plant about 1,000... all of them are of Picual variety. Annual tasks of this crop are explained in the following paragraphs:
  • 3 harrowing works: in order to kill weeds and keep soil moisture.
  • 2 phytosanitary treatments: in spring and another in autumn to control olive fly.
  • Fertilizer: it is foliar fertilizer with phytosanitary treatments. Every 3 or 4 years 400-500kg/he of fertilizer (inorganic fertilizer or organic fertilizer when farm is in ecological agriculture).
  • Pruning. We prune olive trees every 2 year or every year half of farm.
  • We have to remove new brands (bottom part of the trunk) in August or September.
  • Harvesting tasks in December: If these task are mechanized using collector (olive trees only have one trunk) they are really quickly and they are more economic than when you have to harvest olives in traditional olive trees.
We will speak about mechanized harvesting in next posts. On this occasion, we show you some pictures of our friend Espejo and Curita, who are working with their front and rear collector.

Versión en español.

27 December 2017

Rainfall in 2017

The 2017 year has been one of the driest year in Spain from the last decade, so it has been the worst harvest since 2005. Also, our damming are under historic low levels as you can see here. Of course, even the 2005 was worse in our area (central area in Spain) because it rained about 114mm when the historic mimimun was at 184 mm in 1945. We looked for information on www.aemet.es website and using information offered by our weather station, we will show some data below.

The reference period in Spain is of 650 mm from 1971 to 2000. Even, as you can see in our first graph, the historic average rain of Iberian Peninsula is about 700mm, taking into account for this study information from the beginning of the 20th century. In the next table, you can see average rain of last ten years in Spain (you have more information from here). 

These general data of Spain are very different with respect to our area (La Mancha). In our area, the average rain between 2000 and 2010 is of 520 mm (you have more information of all weather stations from here) and even we see more recently year, the average rain goes down about 450 mm.

In our Village, the year 2016 was rainy with a precipitation of 512mm. Therefore, the harvest was really good. But the year 2017 has been the opposite because it has only rained 292mm. Besides, that data is not really valid because at 7th of July it rained 48mm in two hours so threes couldn't absorb all water and cereals or pules vegetables were harvested. Also, we have to speak of hot because it is an important data since year after year, it is increasing so water stress is more evident. Below, you can see some graphs that we have obtained from the data of our weather station.

Versión en español.

13 December 2017

Lentil comes back

We remember with longing when lentil was one of the most important crop of our village and in our area, in general. When we were kids, we went to harvesting lentil with our parents and grandparents using a small Bertolini mower (as you can see in our video where our friend Pedro still harvests his lentil in that way) and after that, we made lots with our wood pitchforks. Suddenly, lentil disappeared and garlic became the most important crop in our area. Only few farmers continued sowing lentil until a few years ago. Nevertheless, for several years, lentil have had a good price and a lot of farmers have come back to sow them, who are saving money. On this campaign, we have followed their example and we have planted about 14 hectares of lentil.

We really like pulse vegetables crops and they are ideal for crops rotations in our farm because they generate a lot of nitrogen which help us to sow cereals next year. In fact, we don't sow sunflowers (it is very typical in our area) because it was replaced by pulse vegetables. In addition, with the regulations of the new CAP, the pulse vegetables have taken an important role in Spanish farms.

When we had to choose the variety of lentil, we decided to sow "Castellana lentil" because the price is more attractive... on the other hand, it is really much more delicate. We had the possibility of choosing from a large variety of seed with different prices. A lot of farmers sow "Pardina lentil" (small and black) because it is a less delicate crop. The company, which is our provider, sell farmers "Pardina lentil" with a contract where farmer has to return the 150% of the seed used, after the harvesting, and the price of the production is of 480€/te. We decided to sow "Castellana lentil" because the price of the production is higher (about 750€/te) but we have to pay seed (800€/te) in advance (sort and clean seeds). We sowed last week and after that we compacted the soil to help lentil growing up. The dose used of seed is of 150kg/he.

You explain briefly some of the most important varieties of letils below:
  • Castellana: large (between 7 and 9 millimeters) and light green. It is the most commonly consumed lentil. It is also known as blond or queen lentil.
  • Blond of Armuña: cultivated in Salamanca. Big size and yellowish color.
  • Verdina: medium size (about 5 millimeters). It is used in salads.
  • Pardina: small size (between 3 and 5 millimeters). It is very used in stews.
  • Beluga: small, rounded and bright black. Used in dishes of haute cuisine. Its shape is similar to caviar.
  • Uradity: white, from India with a high protein content.
  • Du Puy: greenish color from France. With sweet and spicy flavor.
  • Crimson: ideal Turkish lentil for purees.
  • Roja Chief: orange Egyptian lentil. Ideal for soups, sauces or purees.

To sum up, we would remark that some farmers have required to follow the evolution of our crop, so we will tell you how it evolves and even how we will harvest it, since it is an important issue since it cannot be harmed due to the fact that damaged lentils could not be sold for human consumption. Regarding this topic, performances, etc., we will talk to you next summer.

Versión en español.

22 November 2017

Agritechnica 2017 with Bellota

Agritechnica is the most important trade show of the agricultural sector, in not only Europe, but also worldwide, due to the 23 exhibition halls and more than 2900 exhibitors from over 50 countries.

In Hall 11, in the Soil working section, among the main farm equipment manufacturers, it was located Bellota, the Spanish spare part manufacturer, that now belongs to the Agrisolutions group.

In Agritechnica, Bellota presented different new products, from which we can underline:
  • VT-REX disc with extra sharp edge. This especial edge is ideal for high residue to achieve the very best cut and slice into the ground.
  • New double reinforced points. The double reinforced point guarantees not only that the piece will last longer, but also that the working angle is maintained so that the point can always penetrate the soil properly, thus minimum effort is required to till the land.
  • Disc Hangers. Speed harrows are more and more, present in the market, since the average speed is higher than the traditional disc harrows. Bellota offers all the range, from the disc hanger to the hub and disc to build these machines.
Within the Bellota group, Agrisolutions, there were also present the specialty discs from Ingersoll, manufactured in Canada and Solbjerg tines, a Danish brand specialized in S tines.

Agrisolutions group also announced at the Agritechnica Show to all its clients that they have invested more than 5 Million $ in a new manufacturing plant in tines, totally automatized and with the capability to manufacture different steels and new geometries to adapt to the new tendencies of the market. This new manufacturing line will be fully operating since spring 2018.

Versión en español.

Our friend Timo, who visited Agritechnica, sent us several pictures. He attended the fair two days so he could only visit halls of tractors and combines. Herein, he stands out the main aspects from the fair: