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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.

Ripe Winter Wheat June 2013

 

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.

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Wall of Squares

August 5, 2012

Recently, after wheat harvest, farmers in this area have hired baling operations to come in and bale the wheat straw into large square bales. (The straw is left after the combines harvest the grain.)

These large squares are much easier to stack and transport on a semi trailer than the traditional round bales. Until they’re loaded on a trailer, the bales are stacked at the edge of the field. The balers are fun to watch and I love the wall of squares along the country roads.

Large square baler

Large square wheat straw bales

Harvest skies

May 31, 2012

Two skies of harvest.

One tiny cloud over ripe wheat, ready to be harvested.

Storm clouds roll in over a wheat field that was just harvested.

2012 wheat harvest is off to a record start.

Wheat harvest is off to a record start this year . We started cutting on Saturday, May 26. That’s 15 days earlier than our previous record start date, according to my farmer-in-law, who has kept a daily journal for years and years.

We had high hopes for our crop this year (and every year). We had good planting conditions last fall and good moisture during the growing season. However, by mid-April and early May, temperatures turned hot and the rains stopped. The plants were tall, but we get paid on the weight of the kernels, not the vegetation. We worried about the wheat kernels drying too fast. Small, hard kernels weigh less than plump, hard kernels. Wheat is priced per bushel, with each bushel of wheat weighing 60 pounds.

We do quick calculations throughout harvest. We’re still early, but yields look OK. We won’t know for sure until the last scale ticket from the co-op.

Each harvest has memorable moments. The best of the year so far: Grandpa let D. steer the combine. I was riding with V. and we could see both of them smiling from ear to ear. (We were, too.)

D.’s take afterward: “Grandpa says I’m a natural.”

Looking forward to another day of harvest memories.

Farm kids in ripe Kansas hard red winter wheat

Power of Kansas ag

October 11, 2010

Kansas Farmers Tony & Anita HorinekThe second Kansas Farm Bureau Masters class proved how powerful ag is in Kansas — and the impact our producers have worldwide. Tour stops included:

This was my first trip to northwest Kansas. I often wondered why people lived here, a question based on solely on television weather reports. It always seemed desolate and prone to severe weather. Both are true. However, I now understand the pull of an area that is so true to its Kansas beginnings — pioneers committed to making a living from the soil.

These Kansans are continuing to pioneer the way, now with the intersection of agriculture and technology. Here, Tony Horinek explain how and why he farms 8,000 acres using no-tillage methods and precision ag technology: http://www.youtube.com/user/lynnwoolf?feature=mhum#p/u/0/yPNJOQSt1kA

Listen also to KSU research engineer Freddie Lamm detail his work in underground drip irrigation. The approach may offer a solution to shrinking water supplies: http://www.youtube.com/user/lynnwoolf?feature=mhum#p/u/1/SJoG2YULj3I

Overall, I was amazed at how much these professionals shared about their work. They truly seemed to love their jobs. Maybe it’s because they’re in the middle of it all, despite being tucked away in Kansas.

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