University of California Small Grains
University of California Small Grains
University of California Small Grains
University of California
University of California Small Grains

Flat vs. Sowing on Beds

Sowing Flat versus sowing on Beds

Small grains grown under well-drained conditions can be successfully sown flat or on raised beds. Soil type and surface drainage determine the best method for a given field. If border-check irrigation is planned, border levees should be prepared before sowing, and seed should be drilled through or across the levees. Heavy winter rains can flood fields prepared in this manner, so drainage must be provided. In the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, small grains are sown flat and spud ditches are dug every 100 feet
(30 m). Spud ditches are the smallest ditches in the drainage system used in peat soils, about 12 inches (30 cm) wide and 24 inches (60 cm) deep, and are connected to larger 4-foot (1.2-m) ditches. They provide both drainage and subirrigation.
Many small grain growers use raised beds to allow for better winter drainage
and to provide for spring irrigation. Raised beds can be especially effective on heavy soils that hold moisture for long periods. They improve drainage, keeping the root system and plant crown aerated and reducing the chance of root rot, and they can also reduce nitrogen loss due to denitrification and leaching. The beds are spaced up to 60 inches (1.5 m) apart; the width of beds depends on the equipment used, rotation crops planted in the same field, soil type, and how well the soil moves water laterally to the center of the bed, or “subs,” during irrigation. The tops of raised beds should be flat or rounded so that water does not accumulate around plant crowns, where it can cause waterlogging. Beds can be formed with listing shovels on a tool bar. Furrows should run with the field’s slope, and drainage should be provided at the end of the field. Planting systems for raised beds include

• bedding and shaping the bed top followed by drilling the seed parallel or diagonally to the beds (the preferred method)
• bedding and shaping the bed top followed by broadcast seeding and harrowing to cover the seed
• broadcast or drilling the seed followed by harrowing and furrowing (which saves time)

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