Owning a piece of the same homestead that my ancestors settled makes me a steward of this earth. Like my parents and grandparents, there are days when I am sweaty and exhausted from good honest work in the soil; there are days when I sit in my cushioned chair on the deck admiring the clouds. I am fortunate to have ”one foot in the city” and “one foot on the farm.”
Friday, May 3, 2013
Wheat Farming Isn't for the Weak in Spirit
As a daughter of a Kansas wheat farmer, I have many memories
of crop disasters and appreciate the hardships faced by these families. In those years, we didn’t have crop insurance
and if the wheat died, it was a tough year.I specifically remember years when hard hail took the wheat down at the
peak of the growing period.In my mind
is an image of my Dad standing at the edge of an eighty acre field, crying
after a total loss.
Well, Kansas weather has made the news this year
with unpredictable dryness, wetness, wind, cold, and untimely snow and
sleet.We are experiencing the third
year of drought.Our wheat was happily
growing with several inches of good rain and snow, but recently we have had
three weeks of freezing temperature.For
those unfamiliar with wheat farming, wheat can be killed if the temperature
goes too low at a time when the wheat grain stalk is maturing.
This week, experts hit the road in Kansas to
diagnose how severe the crop loss was.I
found the photos and explanations very helpful in understanding their findings.
Ag experts were in the fields looking for damage from two problems:continuing drought as measured by the
moisture available in the subsoil and 2) damage to the plant stems from
The measures taken seem fairly straight forward, if
tedious.They walk into fields all over
the state and take random samples. They
test potential yield by counting the number of wheat stalks per foot and also
pulling up plants to determine the depth of the plant roots, indicating soil
Gonna lose it
Plant damage from freezing was determined by
examining the plant for damage.I have provided
photos to illustrate what happens when a plant freezes.
I haven’t heard the report of my own crop yet, but
if it was damaged, it would have been from the freeze this week.My county had abundant rain and the wheat was
looking healthy.Besides hoping for an
income from the crop this year, I’d like to feel a little success as a
farmer.As we say here, it sure seems
like it’s been a long dry spell for farmers.