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)