Posts Tagged ‘Pumpkin Picking’

Corn Maze (part 4) or Grapes the right type and timing of fertilizer counts!

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

At Maize Valley We Make Great Wine…FUN! Special events are a big part of that. This blog post number four in a series of blog posts about how we build a corn maze. In part three we talked about weathering, freezing and thawing, applying cow manure and plowing. This time we talk about putting down some fertilizer to help the plants that make up the Corn Maze grow best.

Hoopes Fertilizer Plant in Alliance Ohio

Hoopes Fertilizer Plant in Alliance Ohio

As mentioned in an earlier blog post we test the soil to determine the needs for next years crop. We also know a great deal about what is needed by the yield of the previous years crop. If you remove so much material it also removed known amounts of nutrients. We begin our manure applications based upon that number and supplement with other fertilizer to fill in the gaps to our best approximation based upon soil test report. I say “best approximation” because weather ultimately determines the crops potential.

Loading a blend of Ammonium Sulfate and Pelletized Lime

Loading a blend of Ammonium Sulfate and Pelletized Lime

I like to use Ammonium Sulfate and here is why. Ammonium nitrogen (NH4+) carries a positive charge and is adsorbed onto soil particles. In this chemical form, leaching of nitrogen does not occur; however, NH4+ is changed to the NO3- form by bacteria. This process occurs rapidly (beginning within 2 to 3 days) as the soil temperature climbs above 50°F. Complete conversion from NH4+ to NO3- occurs within about a month of application. source We will plow this field before it reaches 50 degrees, thereby trapping the nitrogen underground until the plant needs it. Sulfur in necessary in the manufacture of proteins in the plant and you need as much of it as Phosphorus.

Ammonium Sulfate

Ammonium Sulfate

This information is to let you know that before we started planting corn mazes we used to farm a fairly large number of acres. In fact we used to farm over 3,000 acres before we evolved into the winery and soon brewery aspect of agriculture. I also blend in an equal amount of pelletized lime. Pelletized lime is made by granulating finely ground agricultural (ag) lime. It may be dolomitic or calcitic depending on the nature of the original limestone. Some questions have been raised about recommended rates of this material and the speed at which it reacts compared to standard ag lime. Source

Pelletized Lime

Pelletized Lime

I blend in the lime as both a calcium source and to help balance the the acid formed when the Nitrogen breaks down into Ammounium Nitrate. One disadvantage of Ammounium Sulfate is it can lower your soil pH below optimal levels if not accounted for.

Spreading the blend on the field.

Spreading the blend on the field.

We apply the blend at a rate of 400 pounds per acre, (43,560 ft. sq.) or approximately the area of a football field. That may sound like a lot but consider that half of that is pelletized lime, and the ammonium sulfate is only 21% nitrogen. This works out to only 42 pounds of actual nitrogen evenly distributed over and entire area the size of a football field. Picture the volume of a large bag of dogfood and try to imagine how thinly spread that is. Still this one load cost over $500.00 so we are very careful how we use it and do not use too much.

White pellets are fertilizer granuals

White pellets are fertilizer granuals

The while pellets are the fertilizer granules. The brown lime pellets have already dissolved into the soil. The fertilizer will do the same and attache to the soil particles since the fertilizer has a positive charge and the clay particles in the soil have a negative charge. When temperatures warm and bacteria become active Denitrification will begin. Denitrification is a microbially facilitated process of nitrate reduction (performed by a large group of heterotrophic facultative anaerobic bacteria) that may ultimately produce molecular nitrogen (N2) through a series of intermediate gaseous nitrogen oxide products. This makes the nitrogen available to the plant. Source . All forms of nitrogen both commercial fertilizers or natural or “organic” sources undergo this process. Plants don’t really care the source is as long as the soil is healthy and in balance.

Corn coming up in rows

Corn coming up in rows

So way before we get this, there is a lot of preparation to do to bring a corn maze to life. Stay tuned next time we will talk a bit about how and why we prepare the soil the way we do.

Haunted Corn/Sorghum Maze getting started for 2009, #Agritourism, #farm

Friday, July 24th, 2009
No-tilling sorghum

No-tilling sorghum

Galen and Tim planting sorghum

Galen and Tim planting sorghum

Back in the day we ran a haunted corn maze attraction. We started it because people asked us and we thought it would be fun to chase people around in the dark with a chain saw over our heads screaming at them till some of them peeeed their pants. Well yes that was fun for a while, then we got older the winery business started taking off and I lost my brother-in-laws help managing it as he was off making wine and taking care of customers. Whatever……

So a few years ago I was up there in the dark by myself and I felt like the whole place was just spinning out of control. People running everywhere, the main maze was getting torn apart, and I was dead tired. It seems it is harder to pull 18-20 hour days when you get older and plus my chain saws were wearing out, or maybe it was me. So we pulled the plug on the haunted business.

Boy did we hear about it the next year. From who you ask??? Church groups, families, Mom and Dads and kids and teens too. You see when I do something I give it my all and do 150% or more and people loved our haunted attraction. I always focused on not just scareing people but entertaining them too. We would have entire families go through our haunted event and the kids came out scared Mom a bit shaken and Dad laughing sometime crying and a time or two even sacred much to his suprise.

So we are reloading the event this season wtih the help from Terry’s Tire Town to help get the word out. Anyhow you can get and up close look at how a John Deere No-Till grain drill works too!

At Maize Valley We Make Great Wine…FUN!!