A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

What’s growing in this field? Now we know

Written April 18th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

A sea of yellow off Oak Grove Drive in North Albany on Sunday.

Last Thanksgiving, I rode past this field in North Albany when it looked a lot different, and I wondered what had been planted there. Now I know, and so will you, not because I recognize the crop but because I asked.

What we’re looking at is the edge of about 50 acres of purple top turnips. The field is off N.W. Oak Grove Drive, part of the Robert E. Graham farming operation in the Palestine area.

When I wrote about the neat rows of plantings as far as the eye cold see last fall, I speculated, based on the shape of the newly sprouted leaves, that it might be canola, a variety of rapeseed. Farmers who read the blog quickly disabused me of that mistaken notion.

City types who can’t tell one plant from another might benefit — in increased appreciation, if nothing else, of the varied farming economy that surrounds us — from little signs telling us what grows in particular fields. (As if farmers don’t have enough to worry about already.)

Now that this field has turned into a carpet of yellow blossoms, I looked up the owners.

What I learned from the Grahams is that they grow the purple top turnip crop for seed and because it does a good job of cleaning the field of unwanted grasses. When it’s harvested, the seed is cleaned, bagged and sold.

This is the second year they’ve done this. Next year the field may go back to orchard grass, which is what was grown there before.

For now, passersby get to enjoy the colorful view of millions of these blossoms and their pleasant scent in the springtime breeze. (hh)

Last November, the field looked like this.


Here’s a closeup of some of the countless turnip blossoms now.

Posted in: Commentary, News

12 responses to “What’s growing in this field? Now we know”

  1. Wynona says:

    Wouldn’t it be great if the fields of crops had signs helping educate us with what crop is being grown in the area? Seems that if we are helping subsidize farmers, we should know what is being grown. Yes. I do know that all crops aren’t subsidized. Some crops are easily recognized, but many are not.

    • Albany YIMBY says:

      Farmers seem very aggravated about people living in cities not caring about all the work they do. But sometimes they also run their business in a very secretive way.

      • George Pugh says:

        Farmers come in all sizes, shapes, sex, color and attitude. Pretty much like every other grouping of people. I’m sorry that you have the impression that we are aggravated and or secretive. I suspect some may be but, if approached with a genial attitude of curiosity, and if the farmer has the time, I think most would burn your day telling you about what they do and why.
        There is some crop signage scattered around the county at a cost to the farmer. Generally the signs are on the more traveled roads for “bang for the buck.” And we are not, or the most part, just grass seed farmers, so our rotations mean that the crops in a particular field change more frequently, so the signs need to do the same.
        Now, I am the old guy on the farm and have a little more leisure time, so if anyone would like a couple of hours on a seed farm, my number is in the phone book. If I don’t answer, leave a message.

        • Albany YIMBY says:

          Thank you for your answer. I know people in Albany schools in case you want to come one day after Covid is over, hopefully.

    • Scott Bruslind says:

      When you posed the question of crop signage, I thought it was the Oregon Farm Bureau’s Women in Agriculture who sponsored the roadside signs.
      It is, however, Oregon Ag Link (aka, Agri-Business Council of Oregon.)

  2. Maggie Schur says:

    Thank you so much for doing that research! We Live quite close to that. I was wondering yesterday what it was. Glad somebody’s doing the homework!

  3. Mike says:

    How about a photo of the turnips?

  4. Delfina H Hoxie says:

    They sell the seeds, what about the turnips? Are edible, are they sold? We city types want to know.

  5. Steven Anderson says:

    Turnip seed.


    I venture a guess it’s gonna end up in Scott’s Forage Mix produced by Barenbrug.

  6. Joshua says:

    I followed your tip and managed to find the same field. So beautiful! Here is some aerial video that I took of the flowers: https://youtu.be/VCv2l8CaxqQ


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