Horseradish thrives in deep, sandy soil, the kind you find in America’s bottomlands, including third-generation farmer Barry McMillin’s 1,200 acres near Caseyville, Ill.
“German immigrants lived in this area,” McMillin says, “so it’s a tradition to grow horseradish here.” Today, he’s one of about a dozen larger-scale growers left in North America, because raising and harvesting the pungent roots, which belong to the cabbage family, is so labor-intensive.
“It’s backbreaking work,” he says of growing the plants on his land, Bluff View Farm. “You almost have to be born into it, because not everybody has the tools or the wherewithal to attack a crop like this. It’s not like corn or soybeans, and there’s not a lot of technical data or research on ‘how-to.’”
For McMillin, planting typically starts in March and April, but wet weather hampered efforts last year and planting wasn’t concluded until the first of June. “We like to have them in the ground by May 1, ideally, to have your best yield. Horseradish is similar to corn in that respect. You don’t want to plant too late because it starts taking off yield right away,” he says.
Planting is done with broken lateral roots and branch roots from selected stock. McMillin plants the roots in 36-inch rows, 18 to 24 inches apart, and hills them up like potatoes.
When he fertilizes, McMillin uses potash, phosphate and some nitrogen. “We’re heavier on potash than any other soil amendment. It’s a fertilizing program similar to what’s used for soybeans.”
During the growing season, horseradish foliage can reach 3 feet tall, and it’s hard to get off until there’s a heavy frost. McMillin hasn’t had much luck using the tops as cattle feed. “The tops have a pungent smell, like the roots, so it’s probably just not tasty to the cattle.”
With so few growers, there’s not a lot of buyers for horseradish harvesting equipment, so McMillin and other producers often assemble their own, modifying tools and equipment used for other crops. “We use a converted potato harvester,” he says. “But we have to beef up the frame because we dig 16 inches down—much deeper than potato farmers—and have heavier soils.”
McMillin says horseradish growers like his father used a bottom plow and harvested the roots with a potato fork to load onto wagons. Today, McMillin uses forklifts and two Massey Ferguson® 4243 tractors.
“We need a 150-HP tractor to pull the two-row potato harvester we modified. Alongside the digger, we have a dump cart that takes 80 to 100 HP. It catches the horseradish from the harvester. We elevate the cart to dump our loads over the side of the truck, so we don’t have to drive the truck through the field.”
The Massey Ferguson tractors provide the power McMillin needs. “I’ve had very good luck with Massey Ferguson equipment. I’ve owned at least four tractors and have leased some. They’ve been reliable, good tractors.”
Adds McMillin about his Massey Ferguson equipment: “I realize how much innovation they put into tractors. A lot of other companies use improvements that Massey came up with. They’ve always been a leader. It’s a good brand.”
Read the fully story at http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/horseradish-is-a-crop-with-punch/.
Massey Ferguson speaks to Matteo Bartolini, President of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA), about the links between nutrition, eating habits and the food chain.
MF: Is EU food legislation to blame for higher food prices?
MB: All of us, as European consumers want high-quality and safe food. The EU plays a vital role in that. The European Commission oversees the necessary level of law harmonization thereby avoiding distortion of competition among Member States. A set of common rules for all 28 Member States is less burdensome and expensive than 28 entirely different sets of rules and regulations.
MF: Would you agree that consumers consider the cost of food – as opposed to its quality and dietary issues – as the determining factor when shopping for food? What can we do to change people’s eating habits?
MB: Cheaper food does not always translate into unhealthy food, and we also need to keep in mind that eating habits often depend on different cultures across the Union. EU citizens must be aware of the fact that meeting the most rigorous requirements – like EU farmers do – can, indeed, contribute to higher prices since the production cost for European farmers increases in direct proportion. Europeans are demanding good quality food – in other words, they want to know what they eat and how their food was produced.
MF: What is your opinion as regards the claim that small farms are less sustainable than their bigger counterparts?
MB: Although this can sometimes be the case, it does not mean that it is the rule. Small farms can be modern and sustainable too. The EU supports small farms by providing funds for modernization and investments in order to ensure that they not polluters and that they are also economically viable. Our view on the issue is that irrespective of their size, both big and small farms should aim to produce sustainably. The reality nowadays is that increasingly scarce natural resources do not leave farmers with much of a choice. European agriculture does not consist of only small farms or only big farms. It is essential to have a mix of the two as this is part of the culture of European farming.
MF: Do you believe that European farmers’ bargaining power has decreased over the years? What do you think are the reasons behind this and what can they do to gain more control?
MB: European farmers exercise rather little control over the final cost of their products. Past practices have fallen short of providing producers with decent prices at farm gate level, with farmers often getting a fraction of what the consumer pays. However, young farmers in particular are attempting to shorten this chain and find innovative solutions to the lack of bargaining power. Young farmers employ methods such as direct selling in order to improve the functioning of the food chain, while, at the same time, bringing consumers closer to producers and giving them more understanding of where and how their food was produced.
With continuous introductions of customer-focused innovations, Massey Ferguson® builds upon a history that spans three centuries and its full line of equipment. Listed here are just a few of the latest advancements available on its compact, utility and midsize tractors, and how they can make the work you do more productive, safer and comfortable.
More choices, more options. With 28 different models between 22.5 and 150 engine HP within seven different series, choices in compact and midsize tractors are nearly unlimited—especially with the option of 2- or 4-wheel-drive on a number of models, cab or open platform, and a choice of transmissions. In many cases, there’s even a choice between premium, deluxe and classic versions within the same horsepower class. Massey Ferguson allows you to purchase what you need—no more and no less.
Steel construction. From the largest Massey Ferguson tractors to the smallest 1700E Series offerings, you’ll find fenders, hoods and platforms made from steel for rugged durability, as well as stability and comfort on uneven ground.
Dedicated engines. Except for a few light-duty models, all Massey Ferguson tractors are equipped with direct-injection diesel engines that deliver dependable power and torque. The 4600, 5600 and 6600 series tractors, in fact, are all powered by AGCO POWER™ engines, which are specifically designed for agricultural applications—not for dual-purpose uses in forklifts and other machines. Such dedicated design allows for better per-liter performance and smaller, power-packed engines, translating into more powerful tractors and roomier cabs.
Innovative transmissions. Each Massey Ferguson tractor is matched with the best transmission available. For instance, the GC1700 Series offers a standard two-range hydrostatic transmission, while the 12-speed power shuttle in the 4600 Series allows for faster forward/reverse shuttling and speed choices. The venerable Dyna-4 is standard equipment in the 5600 and 6600 Series. This semi-powershift, which automatically and smoothly shifts gears, has four Dynashift ratios that can be shifted up or down under full load within four electro-hydraulically selected main ranges. The 6600 offers two other choices, including the Dyna-6 (same as Dyna-4 but with 24 speeds) and the Dyna-VT CVT, making it the first mid-range tractor to offer a continuously variable transmission.
High-flow hydraulics. Class-leading hydraulic systems move more gallons of oil per minute, so attachments like loaders and implements deliver fast operation and quick response. The use of multiple pumps also means you never have to sacrifice productivity in one system, such as steering, to get extra power to another. Mid-range tractors offer a choice of open center or closed center hydraulics to meet the specific needs of the customer.
Ultimate comfort. Massey Ferguson engineers recognize that comfort translates into productivity. That’s why you’ll find features like a flat deck that adds roominess as well as safety, cabs borrowed from our high-horsepower models and otherwise unheard-of options on a midsize tractor, like cab suspension and a suspended front axle.
For more information on Massey Ferguson compact, utility and mid-sized tractors, visit masseyferguson.us.
Featuring the most powerful tractors ever made by Massey Ferguson, the new 8700 Series delivers ground-hugging torque and fuel efficiency unsurpassed in conventional tractor design. But the advantages don’t end there: All five models in the series also feature a number of other industry-leading components, including additional performance-enhancing innovations in engine technology, high-capacity hydraulics and ergonomic cab design.
To begin with, the new AGCO POWER™ 8.4-liter, 6-cylinder engine delivers 270 to 370 max engine HP. “Add to that,” says Ash Alt, AGCO field marketing manager, high-horsepower tractors, “the Engine Power Management [EPM] system provides a boost of an additional 30 HP that allows for faster engine response, providing more torque and more power to the application.”
The Dyna-VT continuously variable transmission (CVT) has also been updated. “Still providing the unmatched performance without the need to shift, clutch or change ranges,” says Alt, “the CVT on the 8700 Series further reduces fuel consumption, as well as wear and tear on the operator and equipment.”
The hydraulics on the 8700 Series are also best-in-class. Oil flow has been increased by more than 17% to 54 gallons per minute. “Couple that with industry-leading oil flow management,” adds Alt, “and the hydraulics on 8700 tractors provide greater capacity and precision, and faster response.”
The new CYCLAIR cooling system increases overall tractor performance “by maximizing air flow through a series of coolers and out through a redesigned hood,” says Alt. “Vents in the hood split the air flow to expel hot air, while directing cool, fresh air towards the main radiator.”
In addition to the CVT and EPM, the new AGCO POWER engine also employs features such as high-pressure common-rail fuel injection and twin turbochargers, to help deliver more torque and greater efficiency at lower engine speeds. In combination with third-generation Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) and cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (cEGR) technologies, the new power plant further reduces fuel usage and engine wear.
Also increasing the versatility of the tractors, the 8700 Series offers the option of a factory-installed front 3-point hitch and 1,000-rpm PTO. The front 3-point hitch has a lift capacity of 11,023 pounds, while new monobloc weights for front ballast are also available. The 8700 Series tractors also feature a redesigned, rear 3-point quick hitch that’s easier to use and offers an increased lift capacity of 26,355 pounds.
Inside the cab, the 8700 Series tractors blend comfort, noise reduction and operator-friendly ergonomics, all of which reduce operator fatigue. Easier to read and navigate, the new dashboard contains a Setup and Information Screen (SIS) that is 50% larger and offers 10 times better resolution and intuitive functionality. Cab updates also include relocated B-pillar controls for added convenience.
“These new 8700 Series tractors,” says Alt, “are not only the most powerful tractors ever built by Massey Ferguson, but the most intuitive and productive in their class. They’re the result of multiple engineering achievements developed with the needs of our customers in mind all the way.”
For more information on Massey Ferguson compact, utility and mid-sized tractors, visit masseyferguson.us.
For a few weeks in winter or early spring, a talisman of sorts rises between the trees throughout rural Vermont. It is many places at once, yet the source, hidden amongst the hills, mountains and hollers, is not so disparate. On days when the wind is relatively still, these specter-like columns, comprised of smoke and vapor, can be seen for miles, beaconing those in the know.
They drive and trek, and as these seekers near their destinations, a faint yet familiar scent of something sweet intensifies the allure and further reinforces behavior learned from parents and grandparents, many of whom visited these same sites.
As is the tradition, these visitors are welcome. In from the cold and great outdoors, they enter the confines of cozy huts, known as sugarhouses, where the senses are greeted by steam and fragrance percolating off maple sap at the boiling point, and by the warmth of friends.
“It’s kind of like a big visiting contest,” says Hope Colburn, who along with her husband, Mark, runs Colburn’s Village View Maples, a sugaring operation near Glover, Vt. “During sugaring, people here drive around town to look for the steam and smoke from the sugaring, and they go from sugarhouse to sugarhouse … to be a part of this tradition, to witness it and visit. Of course, it dates back to … ” she pauses and laughs, “till who knows, but it’s definitely part of the heritage.”
From Vermont to Eastern Canada and across the prairie’s northern tier, sugaring—which typically lasts three to four weeks, beginning as early as January and ending as late as April—has signaled the end of winter. When daytime high temperatures reach the 40s (Fahrenheit) and nights dip back down into the 20s, a pressure is created in several varieties of maple trees, forcing the trees’ sugary sap to rise and flow out of breaks in the bark, whether natural or man-made.
Natives of these regions learned to collect the sap and boil it down long before Europeans arrived. They had their own rituals surrounding its collection and transformation into syrup, yet the addition of a warm sugarhouse has certainly added to that allure for the modern-era visitor. So have doughnuts.
“We go through a lot of them during sugaring season,” says Hope. Her mom makes the sinkers by the dozens, using maple syrup from the Colburns’ sugarhouse to feed those who visit at this critical time, when a year’s worth of nature’s and man’s work gets boiled down, literally, into sticky gold. Good friends help pass the time.
A sure-footed tractor helps the Colburns check tubing during sugaring.