How to identify farm crops on a country walk

wheat field

An eBook to help you identify the most common farm crops you might see as you go hiking through the countryside.

While hiking through the countryside, do you sometimes wonder what the crops are that are growing in the fields around you? Would you like to know how to tell barley from wheat? Or rye from oats? Or know what a field of sugar beet or soybeans looks like?

If so, here’s a 32-page eBook to help you identify farm crops on a country walk. It covers 25 crops, grouped into three main categories: cereal crops, forage crops, and industrial crops.

At first I was focusing on crops in Belgium, which is where I live, although of course many of the crops are also grown in other areas of western Europe and indeed other parts of the world. But so popular has the guide been that I have extended it to crops grown elsewhere.

Moreover, as Henry points out in his comment below, “being able to understand the farm-to-table chain of events is vital for both a healthy planet and a nutritious diet.” In this respect, this eBook would be useful for children too. It would certainly make a “boring” walk in the countryside more enjoyable, entertaining and educational.

What crops does it cover?

  • Cereal crops (9): Wheat, barley, rye, oats, rice, maize (corn), sorghum, millet, canary grass.
  • Forage crops (4): Clover, lucerne (alfalfa), fodder beet, swedes.
  • Industrial crops (12): Flax, sugar beet, oilseed rape, soybean, potato, coffee, tea, cotton, rubber, hops, tobacco, industrial hemp.

Each crop is illustrated with photos of the plant, flower, seed, bean as appropriate. A short description gives the main features of each plant to look out for. And there is some background information on the global importance of that farm crop. Here is an example of a page:

farm crops identification guide

The Guide to Farm Crops is available as a 32-page eBook for the price of only 4.99 EUR. To purchase, simply click on the link below. You can pay via a card, PayPal, Bancontact etc.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Thank you! Denzil

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43 thoughts on “How to identify farm crops on a country walk”

  1. Thanks for this, Denzil. It’s really useful because I feel very ignorant when I’m walking through the fields and I love seeing the new crops grow.

      1. Loved this informative article. Also, love tooling around my old farming community & discovering just what crops are,? teehee,? coming up, here in the mid Willamette Valley of Oregon.
        Spent plenty of my childhood jumping outta the rafters of a magnificent mortise & tenon, 1900 built barn. Jumping from way up top, into the ground floors deep bins of barley! It was the best of the grains to jump in, because it isn’t pointy! Not just raised a farmers daughter, but flew of the trapeze!? BORN1956?

        1. Thanks for joining the conversation Susun all the way from deepest Oregon! Your childhood sounds fun, growing up on a farm. Jumping into deep barley sounds invigorating. Perhaps not in your 60s though!

        1. Just returned from a country walk here in North Scotland, and tried to identify what I was seeing growing in the fields. The 4 types of ‘ears’ put together solved my problem! I saw rye this time.
          Thank you

        2. This is great, Denzil! Sometimes a body meet a body comin’ thro’ the rye, and then realize, no, they’re barrelin’ thro’ the barley, or walkin’ thro’ the wheat. Seriously, sometimes I’ve seen a field and decided it wasn’t the usual winter wheat, that’s grown around here, and I know the numerous microbreweries have encouraged farmers to plant some barley again, but I wasn’t sure if that’s what I was seeing. And the same people are bringing back hops as a crop, that’s kind of an unusual-looking field, with the poles and cables.
          Oats are my favorite – – beautiful silver-green in the spring, and beautiful tawny color in the fall.

          1. Hops! That’s a good one to add as they are grown in Belgium. And grapes too. So there’s two more to add. Maybe I should add a section on ingredients for beverages. Yes I like oats too, and I’m not talking about the UK slang meaning.

        3. Hi Denzil,

          This is a wonderfully educational post since so many urbanites have been become disconnected from their food supply. Being able to understand the farm to table chain of events is vital for both a healthy planet and nutritious diet. Thanks for sharing the text and photos!

          1. You make a valid point Henry and one that I am going to steal to add into the text! I was focusing purely on identification, but there is a great educational message here too, also for children. Thanks!

          1. For some reason I always thought that a mangelwurzel was a scarecrow. Yes these old words need to be retained, used and not forgotten!

              1. Hi Denzil,

                Thank you for your well-written and informative post. I used it to check that I had remembered the grains correctly from school and I really enjoyed the other crops you mentioned.

                I don’t usually read comments – but it struck me that as field beets or manglewurzles are often used as the head of a scarecrow that may be where the author Barbara Euphan Todd got the idea for the name Wurzle Gummidge and the link to scarecrows in your mind. Wurzle Gummidge has been around for about 100yr and number of UK TV series have kept him and his friends in the public consciousness.

                PS I also love the Mandela-like icons that come up against people’s names.

              2. So interesting, Denzil. I lived in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan in the 1980s. All those grains are grown there, as well as flax and rape (although it’s called “canola” here). Not being involved in farming, I never realized the differences between the different grains. And a field of flax in bloom is a wonderful sight!

                1. I prefer the name canola, for sure! A field of flax also looks attractive after harvest time, when the cut flax is laid out on the fields in neat rows.

                  1. Denzil, I have to admit that when I read the title of this post, I made a bit of a groan. But what an absolutely fabulous article this is! I loved reading every part and comparing all the various grains, especially seeing the grains close up. I had no idea white asparagus is so labor intensive. I’m fascinated by the factory where each stem is sorted and packaged by some many different machines and so many people. This post makes me even more grateful for the work by farmers and crop laborers all over the world who make my table a bounty of health and goodness to eat. Thank you, all of you.

                    California is better known for other crops than these, and we have to drive a long distance to see them. The central swath of our state is well known for its agriculture, and when we drive it, we enjoy seeing orchards, vineyards, and all sorts of crops.

                    1. Glad you liked it Sharon. I’ll be adding some pictures of vine and hops. But I know for a certain that our little Belgian vineyards will seem like mini-pockets compared to the Californian vineyards! Yes I was hooked on that asparagus video; fascinating!

                  2. Brilliant, this is so useful . . always get confused with Barley and Rye, maybe I won’t now though!

                    Your asparagus looks very different to ours

                    1. Thanks Becky. Yes I wasn’t aware that there are different types of asparagus. I prefer to see the frilly above-ground asparagus waving in the breeze!

                  3. Thanks. I ride my bike on trails just outside the city and was wondering what grain I saw. My grandparents were farmers in Alberta Canada and frankly I never paid attention. I love the canola fields the most. I identified it was wheat I saw which is what I thought.

                  4. Very informative. Although I live in Canada. It will be interesting to see if there are any differences between the crops in Canada and Belgium. Thank you!

                    1. Thanks for your comment Martin. Surprisingly, this post is getting a lot of attention all over the world. Maybe I need to expand it to include other crops?

                  5. Wonderful guide Denzel. Thanks. It has helped me identify the crops in the field I am walking my dogs round at this moment.

                    Love your passion for the subject. Keep up the great work.

                  6. We also grow other bean crops. White, colored, black … But, I am sure you , like us, grow various “market” vegetables. Maybe a section on these? Celery, peas, spinach, lettuce, broccoli etc. And, hey, mustard is a crop too.

                  7. Lived on a Mennonite farm in Germany where I learned to tell the difference (though I knew wheat from the US) and appreciate the review. White spargl is the best! Maybe add commercial hemp to the list?

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