Corn, (Zea mays), also called Indian corn or maize, cereal plant of the grass family (Poaceae) and its edible grain. The domesticated crop originated in the Americas and is one of the most widely distributed of the world’s food crops. Corn is used as livestock feed, as human food, as biofuel, and as raw material in industry. In the United States the colourful variegated strains known as Indian corn are traditionally used in autumn harvest decorations. Corn was first domesticated by native peoples in Mexico about 10,000 years ago.
Wheat is one of the most widely known grains and the longest growing on our farm. It is used to produce many common food ingredients like ground flour and can also be steamed, milled, puffed and flaked which makes it very versatile for food production. It is an easy crop to manage and inexpensive to grow compared to some others but is often susceptible to low market prices because it is widely produced and available globally to grain buyers.
Barley is a widely adaptable crop that grows well in cool conditions, making it an ideal grain to include in our crop rotation. When it has acceptable protein and germination levels barley is malted for beer production and AB barley is world renowned for its quality when it comes to brewing. Getting our barley to malt is always then goal but timely rains prior to harvest affect the malt grade and if the barley is rejected for malt it is sold for livestock feed. It is one of the least expensive crops to grow and very marketable in South Africa, but the profit will vary whether it is makes malt or is sold into the feed market.
Soya beans are indigenous to Manchuria, China. The crop is considered one of the five oldest cultivated crops and was utilised by the Chinese as a source of food before 2500 BC. However, it was only discovered by the western world as a source of oil and protein in the 19th century. In the past 30 years, world production of soya beans increased to more than 100 million metric tonnes. Of this, 51% is produced in the USA, 20% in Brazil, 10% in Argentina and 10% in China. The first report of soya beans in South Africa is believed to be in the Cedara Memoirs of 1903
Lucerne (Medicago sativa)
Lucerne (Medicago sativa) is also known as ‘alfalfa’, which means ‘best fodder’ – and this says it all. Lucerne is the king of fodder, yielding a large volume of high quality hay that’s rich in protein.
Lucerne belongs to the legume family, which means that, working with soil bacteria called rhizobia, it is able to fix nitrogen to make it available for plant growth.
In South Africa, lucerne is grown under irrigation and as a dryland crop. Because it is a semi-permanent crop that covers the entire soil surface, errors made while establishing a planting are difficult to rectify.