Last Wednesday evening as the sun was setting the whole crew was still on the farm. We planted 2.5 acres of safflower and covered 1 acre with our plastic mulch before the forecast rain on Thursday. Safflower is an interesting crop not only for the oil it produces. I have been watching many hundreds of acres in our area being planted to walnuts. Walnuts need very deep and loose soil, so farmers go to great lengths to break up the subsoil. I have seen them hire large diggers to prepare a deep trench where the tree row will go. Others bring in caterpillar tractors as big as your house that drink 5
00 gallons of diesel a day. A few years ago I saw a field planted to Safflower which was then planted to walnuts. The resulting growth in the first year was better than all the other pre planting preparations. Safflower has an aggressive and deep tap root that tunnels down in search of water. When the crop is harvested this tap root breaks down in the soil and then allows any other roots to use this expressway to the nutrients and moisture at depths. This is so much better than heavy equipment guzzling fuel and it achieved a better result. We are doing the same in preparation for planting trees next winter. Roberto sowed the seed into beds he had prepared as if we were planting vegetables. In this way when they germinate he can cultivate the weeds away with the brush hoe. This seeder plants twelve rows, five inches apart. Each of the plastic tubes in the picture above feeds seed into a metering unit that supplies two rows.