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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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Located on Highway 77, a few miles north of Florence, Kan.

Located on Highway 77, a few miles north of Florence, Kan.

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!

Winter Wheat, May 2013

Winter Wheat, May 2013

Winter Wheat Field, May 2013

Winter Wheat Field, May 2013

 

Moved Away is an accidental series about forgotten farmsteads and rural homes.

"The Old Kohler Place," South of Cheney, Kan.

“The Old Kohler Place,” South of Cheney, Kan.

Here’s what we saw when we opened a wheat plant to see the head (seed structure). It’s too early to confirm yields and what the effect might be from the three late freezes, but so far, so good. The yield is measured by bushel. For wheat, each bushel is figured at 60 pounds of wheat seeds.

Winter Wheat Head in Late April

Winter Wheat Head in Late April

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April 30, 2013

This trusting farmer and his self-service hay bale shed are located on highway 17, south of Hutchinson, Kan. A conscience and an old farm dog on patrol keep a person honest. I admire his faith in the trustworthiness of neighbors and strangers.

"On Your Honor" Hay

“On Your Honor” Hay

Good news, we think. The temperatures didn’t go below 29 degrees last night. That’s a little buffer above the 24-degree mark, where K-State Extension says the real damage occurs at this stage. Plus, the freezing rain was more moisture.

The frozen wheat of yesterday looks a more cheery version of crystallized this morning. Here’s a view from across the road.

Winter Wheat Field, April 2013

Winter Wheat Field, April 2013

Winter Wheat, April 2013

Winter Wheat, April 2013

 

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