Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Common Crops

I'm ready with my next crops update, but it occurred to me that not everyone knows how to distinguish the common crops here in southern Ontario.  I've only learned myself, haltingly, the past few years.  So here are the 6 common crops we grow (not counting the hay I talked about yesterday).

Let's start with the three common grain crops, from right to left above, wheat, oats and barley.  I actually picked two stems of each and put them in my handy-dandy vase to photograph up close.  I hope the educational value of these will offset the loss to the farmers!

This is winter wheat, nearly ready to harvest.  Like all other grasses, it has bracts holding the seeds, and long 'awns' extending from each seed.  But compared to barley (below), these awns are shorter than the length of the seedhead.

In comparison, barley has very similar seeds, but very long awns, longer than the length of the seedhead, that makes each stem look feathery.

Oats are very different, not a dense seedhead like wheat or barley, but an open group of seeds or inflorescence.

And here are the corresponding fields, first winter wheat, which will be ready for harvest soon.

The only oats I have found is in a field of peas and oats, being harvested as forage.  You probably can't even see the oats in here!  I'll keep searching for a field of oats by itself.

And a field of barley, with that beautiful feathery surface that catches every breeze.  This field must have been planted very early to be so golden already; all the other barley I have seen is still green.

The last of the big cereal grain crops is corn, which I think everyone can recognize, a grass species with very wide leaves, that will be very tall when it's mature.

There are two other crops that are not grasses or cereals, but legumes.  The first of these are soybeans, some young ones shown here, just like bean plants in your garden.

And a field of soybeans.  Soybeans don't like excess rain, and a lot of soybean fields are looking rather poorly this year as a result.

Finally, another oilseed crop, canola, our prettiest crop when it's in bloom.  Canola is a brassica, related to cabbage, and the lower leaves look like it.

Right now canola fields are looking like this; you can see why it's our prettiest crop.  Hope you've enjoyed my pix of the big six common crops here - tomorrow an update on how crops are doing.


  1. Those are great crops and the fields all look so nice and healthy. Interesting fact about the soybeans not appreciating excessive rainfall. Thanks for sharing the thoughts and photos. Warm greetings!

  2. I very much enjoyed reading about your common crops. When I was growing up on the farm in northern Indiana, we grew all of these except barley and canola.

  3. I love photographing canola. It's such a cherry crop. Carol

  4. Anola is in bloom here as well. Great post.

  5. I am so glad to see these photos, and glad you explained the difference between barley and wheat. and I have been wanting to see oats for a long time. The winter wheat has been harvested here...I wanted to get a photo of them but could not stop once because of a time issue and by the time we came back it had started to rain, and the other was an issue of no place to pull off the road.

  6. A paddock of barley in a breeze is so pretty. Those close-ups, I'm sure the stems will not be missed at all.

  7. Hello, the canola field is beautiful. Lovely post and photos. Have a happy day!

  8. Just love all the summer crops around here as well, Thanks for the names of each plant.

  9. This was fun and informative at the same time! Thanks for taking the time to explain things to me. :-)

  10. Nice to see and learn the difference between wheat, barley and oats.
    Thanks so much.

  11. Good tutorial for folks who think food comes from the grocery store and don't/can't think beyond that.

  12. I didn't know canola was a brassica. We landed at a small airport in Ontario once and a farmer took us out to his fields to see it all in bloom. They he took us home to his wife for some berry pie. Got to love small towns and friendly people. - Margy