Written by: Dolly Potts, Agricultural Research Specialist
We decided to harvest the Research Corn plot before the raccoons got away with any more of the harvest. It was a mild day for the harvest, the sun was out and it was warm. Each of the plots are composed of four rows equaling sixteen plots in total. The two middle rows of each plot are the research rows these are the rows that are counted. The two outer rows of each plot are the buffer rows and will be used for seed. The amendments are biochar (burned wood), fish emulsion (simulating muck), synthetic fertilizer (organic urea), nothing (left untreated). We counted the number of plants for each of the research rows and ears gathered. We also kept track of how many were taken by raccoons. Only the buffer rows were gathered this round.
The research rows harvested will be dried and counted for the yield of produced kernels. We will weigh them and count the yield for each of the amendments. The stalks, husks and cobs will also be weighed to track the biomass of the plot. All this will be done in our Agriculture Research Lab that is being set up and utilized at SDI.
The data will be analyzed by CMN mathematician, Harlan Pygman and the results will be documented in a research paper written by the Sustainability Leadership Cohort. We are very excited about this part of the project. Having been a part of such notable research has been a joy. There is still more work to do and we will keep the college and community up to date.
The buffer rows have been gathered and opened for drying. Rebecca commented, “Opening the corn husks was like opening a present.” Each of the ears was differently, wonderful. One of the techniques I learned from our Red Lake food summit is to hang the ears to dry with pie pans on them so no critters can get to them. Another was to take the seed from the middle of the most perfect ears. Since they all look perfect to us that will be a hard task. A few of the ears were saved for braiding, which is another method we learned from Red Lake. We learned how to make hominy out of the corn using ashes in the procedure. We hope to demonstrate making hominy at our harvest feast.
It has been a good season for the Bear Island Flint Research Corn Plot. Staff, students, interns and community have contributed to the success. We began the growing season with a planting feast and storytelling. We are going to end with a harvest feast, thanking Creator for the gift of the corn. It is with this tradition that we carry on all that is good and has special value to our native people. So please join us to celebrate our harvest potluck on Friday, October 20 at Sustainable Development Institute.