The County Ag Report: Grain Combining

WASHBURN, Maine - Due to crop rotations, potatoes aren't usually grown in the same location year after year.

(Matthew) Our typical rotation on our farm is potatoes, and then a small grain crop, which could be barley or wheat, and then we will leave it for two years of grass, and then the end of that second year of grass it'll get plowed under and be planted to potatoes again the next year.

Matthew Porter is the co-owner of Porter Farms and R&M Grains with his father Rick. Grains are an important rotational crop to the Porters. They plant about 3,000 acres of it. Barely and other grains are harvested with a combine.

(Matthew) Cut the grain in the fields, separate the straw from the actual kernels on the head, and bring it here to our grain storages where we condition to go into storage and we'll store it up till a year here.

That grain is sold all over the northeast and Canada. Not only does it provide income, but Porter credits grain and underseeding to helping along the flagship crop, potatoes.

(Matthew) We like to put some type of a underseed under our grain crop. On our particular farm, we'll leave that underseed to grow for the next year, and on most of our acreage, we'll grow for a second year, and then we plow that under for better soil organic matter for our potato crop.

The weather is always an ongoing battle, especially this past season.

(Matthew) This year's been quite a challenge with hot, dry conditions, and the better we take care of our soil, the better we get yields in our crop.

Porter says rotating different crops, underseeding, and irrigation all contribute to reducing that risk.