Fire is part of the natural cycle here in the fields and forests of Eastern Oregon. Fire burns off excess undergrowth, kills off old and dying trees and plants, leaves a clean slate for life to begin anew.
This year we used fire as one of the tools to prepare the field where we’ll plant next year’s crop of Risk™ winter malting barley at Rogue Farms in Tygh Valley.
Fire helps us grow better barley and, we have to admit, is strangely beautiful to watch.
Field burning is tightly regulated in Oregon. We need a special permit from the state and can only burn if weather conditions are right. It’s not allowed in areas where air pollution is a concern.
We burn to kill off weeds, weed seeds and diseases that might be hiding in the field stubble leftover from harvest. By burning off the plant material, we’re left with pure minerals that we plow back into the soil to keep it healthy, and helps us reduce our use of fertilizer.
First we plow a fire break around the field. Then we light fires at the edges so that the flames slowly creep towards the center of the burn area.
The seeds for next year’s crop of Risk™ malting barley have just arrived and we’ll soon drilling the seeds into the soil. And then the journey from ground to glass will begin anew.