Sometimes, the most useful tool a farmer can have is not… Powerful machine Or a A tried and true hand tool. It’s careful record keeping.

Whether you keep magazineOr write down key details in a notebook, jot down data to remember on scraps of paper, or jot down notes on your computer or phone. Keeping detailed agricultural records can be helpful on many fronts.

Exactly what record keeping may entail will depend on the type of farm you operate. But to give you an idea of ​​the possibilities, let me share with you some real-life examples of how to do it Keep accurate records It helps me with my farm, garden and annual harvest.

Memory cultivation

I have a lot of garden beds, and although I have a good memory for details, I can’t trust myself to remember with 100 percent accuracy which beds contain seeds and seedlings. One year, I planted two varieties of squash and forgot which one.

Fortunately, the resulting pumpkins were different enough to tell the plants apart once they set fruit. But this may not always be the case. Since then, I’ve become more interested in noting the location of each implant.

Seed planting dates

When I plant garden beds each spring, I write down the date the seeds went into the ground and then note when they germinate. I also keep track of the estimated days to maturity listed on the seed packets.

Later, as the plants mature and harvest time approaches, I check my notes to determine when I should harvest – not too early, not too late.

Note the blossom dates

Each year, I write down the dates the fruit trees flower in the spring, and then the dates the fruit ripens in late summer and fall. These dates can vary slightly from year to year, but taking notes over several years gives me a good idea of ​​when to expect ripe fruit.

Record keeping is only useful

Some people might be fine without all these agricultural records. After all, an apple’s ripeness can be measured by appearance and taste, assuming you know what to expect from any given variety. I know my beloved sweet corn is ready when the silk dries and turns brown, and a sample of the kernel reveals a milky rather than clear liquid.

Even so, there are benefits to record keeping. If you’re a hobby farmer trying to grow a little bit of everything, there are probably only a dozen ears of corn in your handful of corn plants. Knowing when you planted them (and when they sprout) can help you determine exactly when they’re ready to pick. From experience, I know that the peak of taste and quality can fall within a very narrow period of time.

Here’s another example: I have I bought several fruit trees From a nursery located about an hour south of where I live, and the maturity dates they list for each variety tend to be earlier than the dates I experience on my farm farther north. Annual shopping trips reveal that the trees at the nursery flower a little earlier in the spring than the trees at my farm, so the nursery’s apples are ready earlier.

If I were to harvest fruit from my trees according to the dates provided by the nursery, I would harvest it before it ripened. Instead, thanks to record keeping, I know that my trees consistently mature a little later, and I can plan my crops accordingly.

These are fairly simple examples, but you can take your records to greater heights if you want. You can record the number of hours you spend on a particular agricultural project, so you can break down the income generated by hours worked to calculate your “hourly rate” and determine if the project is worth repeating. Or you can track the number of eggs your hens lay each year to see which breeds are most productive in your specific situation.

Takeaway? Record keeping makes life on the farm much easier. Take good notes, and you will take good care of your farm.

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