Lina Island wheat crop doing well

  • Aug. 1, 2008 5:00 a.m.

by Alex Rinfret–This year’s colder-than-usual summer weather hasn’t affected George Pattison’s small wheat crop, which is flourishing and should be ready for harvest by the end of the month. Dr. Pattison said he has been pleasantly surprised by the growth of the Hard Red Spring wheat, which he planted in his garden near Lina Island on May 7. Three months later, the stalks are now about one metre tall with fat green kernels of grain forming at their tops. “It came up rapidly,” he said. “The thing is, our days are so long here in the summer, even on a dull day it’s getting many hours of sunshine.” Wheat does not need a lot of heat the way some crops like tomatoes do, Dr. Pattison said, although it can’t be grown successfully in far northern latitudes. But the climate on the Charlottes is the same as that in many western European countries which grow wheat, he said. Dr. Pattison grew a small patch of wheat in his island garden about 30 years ago but hasn’t grown any since then. He planted the crop again this year because he had just bought a rototiller. As food and fuel prices continue to rise there has been lots of interest in locally-grown food, and Dr. Pattison knows of several island gardeners who are growing first-time wheat crops this year. A first for Dr. Pattison is a couple of flattened patches in the middle of his wheat field which look like mysterious crop circles. He said they first appeared about three weeks ago and he had no idea what had caused them, although he later caught his dog romping in the field and now suspects that the crop circles may have a canine cause. Dr. Pattison plans to harvest the wheat with a scythe or sickle, but is not yet sure how he will separate the wheat kernels from the stalks, a process called threshing. He applied to the Gwaii Trust for funding to buy a threshing machine for the islands but hasn’t heard back. He is now planning to bring all the wheat to the Queen Charlotte ball park this September or October for a threshing party – all islanders and their ideas welcome.

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