August 31, 2013
My wheat farmer should have been a potato farmer. He loves growing potatoes and regularly plants about 60 hills in our garden each year. He usually has good luck. Each hill can have anywhere from 2 to up 7 or so potatoes. The challenge is then how to store them so they don’t rot.
Here’s what we’re trying this year. We’re using empty cattle mineral tubs with holes drilled for air. We then layered the potatoes with pine shavings. The tubs can get heavy, so we only filled them about halfway and then carried them down into our cellar.
I’ll let you know about mid-winter if this idea works or not. And, if you’re in the area and enjoy home-grown potatoes, let us know!
August 14, 2013
July 30, 2013
For at least the next generation, our corner of the country is insulated from a population growth trend called megaregions. The smart people at a project called America 2050 define a megaregion as “multiple, adjacent metropolitan areas connected by overlapping commuting patterns, business travel, environmental landscapes and watersheds, linked economies and social networks.”
The U.S. is expected to have 11 megaregions by the year 2050. The Great Lakes megaregion, for example, will include the cities of Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. This megaregion is expected to experience a 28.3% growth in population by 2050. The Texas Triangle is another megaregion and includes the cities of Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. About 70% of the Texas population is expected to live in this region by 2050.
Our farm is about 30 miles south of the green circle in the middle of the map, Wichita, Kan. — not yet a megaregion, but still an area to watch. Maybe two generations from now that green circle will become another megaregion, connected to the Kansas City area. That’s OK with us. That development is north and we’re south.
Don’t get me wrong. I think these megaregions offer lots of opportunities, especially for employment, mass transit and more. I just want to be on the outside looking in.
July 10, 2013
July 1, 2013
I’m a day late in bringing you the update from Month 9 — harvest! We officially started cutting wheat on June 22. This year’s start was a little later than usual. We generally start cutting by Father’s Day. However, the wheat crop took a little longer to dry down because of the high humidity. We checked fields a couple days earlier, but the kernels were still soft — you could make a dent with your fingernail.
After several days of blistering temperatures and winds, the wheat was ripe. V. says you can hear when it’s ready. It rustles as it waves in the wind.
I enjoyed some time riding in the combine with V. (A combine is the machinery that cuts the wheat in the field and separates the kernel from the rest of the plant.) Mostly, I’m on the “support crew,” helping with meals, supply runs, chores, etc. We’re lucky in that we only have to haul wheat about three miles to the nearest grain elevator (a facility that stores grain in large steel or concrete bins).
The condition of the crop? We saw the toll from the late freezes. The stems in some areas were weakened and that wheat laid over. The combines were able to pick up most of it. Besides that, the yields looked good. We’re surprised and pleased after the rollercoaster growing season.
V. sums it up with this statement: “I love wheat harvest and I hate wheat harvest.” I know he wouldn’t have it any other way. Me either.
Here are a few scenes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPb4QM4JuJ8
Thanks for following our crop this year. The 2014 crop starts now.
June 19, 2013
May 31, 2013
There have been a lot of changes since we took a first look inside the wheat plant stem on May 3.
The plant now reaches about 34 inches from the ground to its tip. The seed head is fully developed, but the kernels are still soft. The kernels are now “filling” or reaching maturity. Rain is still important because it influences the weight of each kernel.
We get paid on the number of bushels. Bushels are figured by weight and the average bushel of wheat weighs 60 pounds. The cash price for wheat this morning is $7.30 per bushel. Our yield will be the true indicator of the effect of the late freezes.
You can see how the plants are losing their green color as they complete the life cycle. The kernels will harden and the plant will turn golden as it dries down, or essentially, dies.
We begin harvest when we’re sure that the seed kernel is dry enough. Kernels that are too wet would eventually spoil. So, the grain companies that receive the wheat have set limits on moisture content.
Take a look at month 8. Next month: Harvest!