From start to finish, there is an array of steps we take as farmers and members of the production chain, to ensure the oil produced is of the best quality. Starting with the field prep, to harvesting, all the way to pressing the seed to produce the oil. We must be meticulous with our routine processes and the way that we work at Trelonk.
All our crops this season, besides from hemp, undertake the same field preparation, prior to drilling. The hemp requires a little more paperwork, to ensure we obtain the EU approved seed, as it contains (low) THC.
To begin the planting season, we start with the weed killing. We do this as weeds also produce seeds, this means there will be more competition in the ground for our crops. Whether it’ll be deeper and stronger roots or taller stems, meaning our crops don’t reach the sunlight. Whilst we manage to control the majority of the weeds, it is almost impossible to eliminate every weed. So, priority is to have control over the weeds and to minimise the effect they have on our crop growth and yield.
After the weeding, we plough the fields. This will help to break up the hardened structure of the field, aiding in drainage and root growth. This helps the soil for newly planted crops, bringing nutrients to the top and depositing plant residue below where it will breakdown. After the ploughing we then move onto the cultivating. Once again, this helps to break up the soil, allowing for air to make its way in and through the soil. This ensures that when the seed is drilled, the roots will have oxygen, but also it prepares the soil for the raising of crops. Then we are ready for drilling.
Drilling is the agricultural term used for the mechanised sowing of a crop. The machine used is a seed drill. It has a large hopper full of seed which plants the seed within a particular distance of each other, this allows for the best growth of our crops.
After the ploughing, cultivating and drilling the soil is still left loose. Unfortunately, this attracts pests, including birds and deer. So, to help reduce the risk, the next step would be to roll the field. This helps strengthens the soil, compacting it down, bringing the seed closer to the soil. Which in time allows for a successful germination, which can fight against weeds and bring a healthy crop to harvest.
Once the rolling has been completed, we add fertiliser to the growing crops, these are used to improve the growth of the plant and to give extra nutrients to the plants that they need to ensure we get the highest yield possible. In the past we have used fertiliser which has been derived from seaweed. This contains naturally occurring growth stimulants for increasing crop yields that often can’t be found elsewhere. Once the crops have been fertilised, we see them bloom into life. Majority of our crops will be ready between 8-10 weeks after planting, apart from hemp; hemp takes a bit longer, usually 3-5 months. As soon as the Borage seed turns black, the Sunflower leaves start falling off, and the hemp seeds are at the bottom of the stem, and have turned grey, it is time to cut. This is an exciting time for both the farm and the oil press room. George, our farmer is always keen to crack on and get the harvest done as quickly as possible. However, this isn’t always possible. Good weather is a factor we heavily rely on but can’t always bank on. Whilst the farm team juggle the weather, the oil press team are busy scurrying around to ensure they pressed all of last years seed, to make room for this year’s harvest. The clock is always ticking!
Once the crops are all cut, they’re left out to dry on the ground (praying there is no rain!). The seed will then get picked up and sent away to be cleaned and dried. Upon its arrival back to Trelonk farm, it patiently waits in the seed shed for its turn to be pressed into oil. The pressing process always seems to be the longest process of oil formulation due to the sheer volume of seed that needs to be pressed. Keeping the team on their toes all year round, can Angus in the seed room press the seed fast enough and will the weather be on Farmer George’s side?
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