Friday, May 17, 2013

2012 Lentil Trial


Lentil Harvest

2012 Lentil Trial

The Lentil Trial was planted on May 25, 2012.

It was harvested on September 16, 2012.

The lentils grew without any problems or diseases.  Only one variety, did not produce a harvest, PI 486128, which shattered when removing it from the field, leaving only a handful of lentils.
June 21, 2012

The Lentils were planted with mycelium and the soil was composted the previous fall.

It was irrigated via recycled rubber hose with micropores.  It received irrigation throughout the summer every two weeks, and probably could have gone to every three weeks.   Lentils were very drought tolerant. 

We were very impressed with the way Lentils smothered out weeds.  We only weeded them once during the season, and they held their own through the rest of the summer.  The lentils began flowering in August.  By late August they began to dry down and we stopped irrigation in September.  By mid September they were ready to harvest.  During harvest, we put tarps in the field, identified where each variety began and ended, cut the plants from the roots, and placed each variety on a separate tarp.  We then moved them to the barn to continue drying down.
July 23, 2012

We found the lentils to be a completely trouble free crop.  The gophers hardly bothered them, and you can see they are very active in the photo on July 23.  Note the missing beans from the trellis.
Our problems with the lentils only came about post harvest.  We were not able to process them with any of our regular equipment.   The lentils would not go through the pea sheller, or our bean sheller. 

We ended up threshing them by stamping on them in tarps and winnowing.  This was very labor intensive and we were not able to process them until January.  As many of you know, at that point in September, we had our hands full of melons, squash and beans to harvest.

August 10, 2012
We did discover that after winnowing in front of a fan, the lentils come out cleaner by floating in clean water.  The jar on the right shows lentils just winnowed and the other jars all show lentils that have been washed and the debris floated away.  After washing we dried them overnight in the dehydrator, with air only, no heat.  These lentils were then placed in the freezer for 4 days, prior to moving to refrigerated storage.

We did not find signs of weevils or any other pests in the dried lentils or while they were in the field.
August 27, 2012

In 2013 Spring, we discovered that the shattered lentils re-sprouted in the field.  Unfortunately, this Spring was extremely hot and dry and the irrigation has already been pulled out of this field.  So we were not able to save them.  But that they dropped seed in August and returned the following spring leaves us to believe that we can treat them like favas or lupinis, planting them in Autumn, the same time we plant garlic.  Which we plan on doing for Fall 2013.

We believe that lentils have potential as a crop that we do not harvest, as a legume, they will continue to improve the soil in marginal areas and we believe that they have potential as a crop that we do not harvest, but instead run chickens on.

Not every crop that we trial ends up having a potential for our CSA customers.  Some just benefit the farm, and some have benefits and uses that we have not discovered yet.  After removing the seeds, we found that the vines made excellent compost.

September 16, 2012 Harvest Day
We here at Foothill Farm would like to thank the USDA for allowing us the opportunity to experiment with their germplasm.  We would especially like to thank Clarice Coyne for her knowledge and continued help with our on farm trials.

The lentils used in this trial were:  Baby Blue which we purchased commercially,  PI 632632 - French, PI 606609 a French DuPuy Lentil, PI 298122 - French,  PI 298121 - French, PI 486128 French Du Puy Lentil, PI 616674 - French.  All seeds with a PI designation are from the USDA.

A small amount of the seeds from this trial will be offered at Homegrown Goodness.  If you are looking for a large amount of seeds for eating or planting, look for lentils for sprouting.  These offer a much better deal than purchasing them 100 seeds at a time.



  1. Holy crap, Holly, that land looks so dry. So sorry. I'm amazed you can keep up with the farming at all with things so dry.

    1. Jen, it's even drier this year. This is June/July weather in May!