A spring threat has become a reality. Our wheat crop is coated with ice. This is not good news for a plant that is out of dormancy and growing. The crop at this stage of growth is referred to as jointing. This chart from the University of Illinois Extension shows the different stages.


The smart folks at our own state Extension Service  (Kansas State University) describe the effect of freezing temperatures at the jointing stage:

  • Approximate injurious temperature for two hours: -24 F.
  • Primary Symptoms: Death of growing point; leaf yellowing or burning; lesions, splitting, or bending of lower stem; odor
  • Yield effect: Moderate to severe

We do expect some reduction in yield, but it’s hard to predict much beyond that. Modern seed varieties are nothing short of amazing in their ability to survive extremes. The same could be said for the farmer and his crops.

For now, we’ll keep one eye on the fields and another on the temperature gauge.

Winter Wheat, April 2013

Winter Wheat, April 2013

Winter Wheat Field, April 2013

Winter Wheat Field, April 2013

I’m supposed to be blogging about TEDxICT or my new logo, designed by my artist friend, Barb.

Instead, I’m back to a familiar topic — Kansas weather.  I was just talking with V. that we were almost put back together after the August, 2010 storm. We had replaced our cattle shed, built new seed bins and added a new machine/hay shed. Next up, rebuilding (for the second time) our red barn.

Not yet. A storm two days ago — with winds reaching 70 mph — destroyed our cattle shed, again. It was one of those times when we’re reminded that farm life — even though it’s amazing and fulfilling — is also really tough.

So, what are the lessons learned? One thing’s, for sure, we won’t build in the same spot. V.’s grandpa’s shed, which we rebuilt two years ago, lasted for more than 50 years. We had two destroyed in 18 months. Maybe it’s bad luck, but we’re not interested in proving the theory. Instead, we’ll shift the shelter and handling facilities to the other side of the cattle and horse pen, to an area that has some wind break. As long as we’re reconfiguring, we’re rethinking fencing so we can link this pen with our sheep and goat pens.

In the meantime, the cattle are out on tasty wheat pasture and will take shelter in the tree row. Brandy (our horse) and Raji (D.’s 4H steer) will have a makeshift sun shade for a while.

And, V. and I are headed to the co-op this afternoon to look at new building options. At least the sun is shining — and the wind is back down to about 20 mph.


Rain deadline

July 25, 2011

 Heat and drought continue to choke our farmland. South Central Kansas has recorded more than 30 days of 100-plus temperatures, about three times the annual average. Rainfall? Little to none. We had a few raindrops overnight, but the total was less than 1/10 in. That’s the only rain we’ve had on our farm since mid-June. We received very little moisture last spring and winter.

These conditions have my farmer worried. Even though the 2012 wheat harvest is about 11 months away, the next few weeks are critical to determining yield. A wheat plant’s potential is heavily influenced by soil condition at planting time. So, wheat seed planted in soil with good moisture, among other factors including fertility, has better chance for success. That’s even if the rest of the growing season is dry. This past year helped proved that fact for us.

So, we continue to pray for rain, but with a new urgency. We need rainy days in the next 8 weeks.

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