by Curt Gesch, Telkwa, B.C., 2011
A. Mammoth Red - This type is probably the easiest to find. If the cows could talk, they’d tell me these are the most palatable (sweetest?) of the varieties I tried. I got them from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, but Jung’s (USA) and a few other companies carry these, too. You can see from the photos that these did not get to the bragging range of 10-20 pounds. I don’t think they could ever get to that size in our cool summer climate. They also had many roots hairs and branches. The ones I grew did not push up out of the ground enough. I had to dig them.
B. Golden Eckendorf - I got these from Jung’s Seeds. They did the best in our climate (see photos for average size) with half the root or more out of the ground. I could pick these without digging. I suspect that anyone with a welding torch and some steel could devise an easy-lifting device for these.
C. Bucklunch - also from Jung’s. It is being advertised for white-tail deer hunters who maintain food plots. It is white and looks like some winter radishes I’ve seen. In spite of the claim, it did not grow half out of the ground in my tests.
The seed packages all say “110 days” to maturity, but I think that shorter seasons or fewer heat units means simply smaller roots, not that one shouldn’t try growing them. Certainly our climate (Telkwa) often has a light frost every month and I’m sure the plants will live through those without too much trouble.
It would be great if someone could make a connection with the German company that I found looking under the words “Startseite » Nutz- & Heimtierbedarf » Futtermittelbereitung » Pressen, Quetschen & Stampfer” who produce relatively cheap hand-cranked slicer/choppers. It would be a good demonstration project for our forage people, 4-H clubs, and so on. I’m sure I could find people in our area who’d jump at the chance to try out a new crop and the chopper.
CONCLUSIONS - I will grow the Mammoth Red and Golden Eckendorf again next year. I will add Ca to the soil to all seedings and may experiment with ways to make a temporary storage “pit” above ground with soil, straw, etc.