28 December 2019

The pistachios planting framework

It's time to plant the pistachio trees in La Mancha. Our cousin Juan Ángel, who is very fond of this crop, asked us to help him define the planting framework for his new pistachio plantation and we did so without hesitation, we enjoy these things. Using the auto-guide Cerea we were able to do the job without problems, with a planting framework of 7x7 meters. First it is marked in one direction and when it is finished, we mark it in perpendicular direction (90º)... Cerea has a pattern called "2 directions" which is ideal for these jobs.

Pistachio is destined to be the new Eden of agriculture. In the agricultural news or talking to politicians related to the agricultural world, everyone indicates that pistachio is the revelation crop that will be the most profitable in the years to come. With this premise, our cousin Juan Ángel has decided to transform his entire farm into a pistachio farm on almost 80% of his fields.

We haven't planted any, because we don't have it as clear as he does. He will have to wait many years to be able to have a considerable production in addition to making an important initial investment and during all these years above all, and on the other hand when his trees are in full production we do not know how the price of pistachio will be. We hope that it will be as it is currently predicted, but we are not sure. We will see it as the years go by.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you Merry Christmas and a happy new year 2020. Next year may be a year of abundant rain and good harvests, but especially it come full of health so that we can continue to enjoy this passion for the agriculture that all of us share and enjoy.

Versión en español.

11 December 2019

Hybrid maize seeds. Detasseling

Last July we were visiting the Steyr tractor factory in St. Valentin (Austria), as we have already told you in this article. On the second day, we were lucky to go to the field where we were able to test several Steyr tractors. A Vermande machine arrived to a plot nearby the event to cut the tassel of maize plants, so we took the opportunity to see it since it is an unusual job for us.

The corn plant has a male part (tassel) and a female part (ear). The male inflorescence (tassel) normally becomes visible among the last leaves of the plant, 7 to 10 days before the styles of the female inflorescence appear. Usually, 2 to 3 days before the pollen release takes place, theearsreach their maximum size and this is completely unfolded, so the plant reaches its final height. The tassel is composed of a central stem, which corresponds to an extension of the stem of the plant. In this stem is developed a spike, under which several fine branches of feathery aspect are originated that correspond to lateral spikes. When the time comes, the pollination process begins, with the pollen falling from the top of the plant (tassel) to the middle part of the plant where the female part (ear) is located. This would be a natural or open pollination process. In the fields of hybrid seed generation, this process is altered in the following way that we will show you in the next paragraphs.

The fields we saw in Austria are used to produce hybrid seeds. In this field, two varieties of maize were sown. The sowing system is by means of a 6 furrow sowing machine; having one seed variety in the 4 central furrows and the other seed variety in the two outer furrows. In this way, the field is planted with 4 furrows of one variety and two furrows of another variety. To the variety that is used in the 4 central furrows, the tassel is removed to have a much more controlled pollination. The plants in these furrows, from which the tassel has been removed, are pollinated by the plants in the furrows that have the tassel (of a different variety), so that hybrid seeds are obtained by being pollinated with different varieties.

The most common corn sowing frames for hybrid seed generation are 6:2, 6:1, 4:2, or 4:1. For example, for frame 4:2, it would be 4 female furrows, which are the rows from which the tassel is removed (male part of the plant) and 2 male furrows (rows that are used to pollinate plants that have run out of tassel).

Hybrid maize produces much higher yields than maize produced by open pollination, as well as other important features such as resistance to disease, drought, climate, etc. In the case of modern maize seed, the varieties to be hybridized are carefully selected so that the new variety shows specifictraits found in both mother plants.

Versión en español.