Fall Visitor

Fall Visitor

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Miracles Do Happen: Harvest 2013

Before the reward, there must be labor. 
You plant before you harvest. 
You sow in tears before you reap joy.
Artist Ralph Ransom


Last September, I found a quote in The Hutchinson News and superimposed it over a photo of our newly drilled wheat field:

The summer of 2012 was the driest since 1936. At one point, three-quarters of the land area in the 48 contiguous states was experiencing drought conditions. I'd never heard the old farmers' adage before, and I sure didn't believe it.

For us, the adage came true. It is Randy's best harvest year ever, and he's been farming since the summer of 1972. Our overall yield average this year was 52.7 bushels per acre. Our highest yielding field was 76 bushels per acre, and our lowest was 32 bushels per acre (on ground that is primarily used for hunting by the landlord). Randy planted two wheat varieties this year: Everest and Stout. They both yielded well and exceeded the 60-pound-a-bushel test weight for quality wheat. But at some locations, the Stout variety laid over in the field, which made for slower cutting.
Our previous record harvest was 2008, when the average was 50.6 bushels per acre.
The yields and quality were miraculous when you consider the obstacles the crop faced during its 9-month life cycle. We planted in dust. The wheat miraculously came up. But even then, the obstacles weren't over. It has needed the proverbial nine lives to get it from planting to harvest. After an unseasonable hail/ice/sleet/rain storm on April 9,  I wrote:
We walked across the road to the wheat field, and there was more crunching than a roomful of celery-and-carrot-munching dieters as our boots broke the surface of the ice that encased each tender green plant.
Then, it happened again on April 23, after springtime had "officially" arrived (on the calendar anyway) and after the frost-free date for our area. Mother Nature didn't get the memo:
After another shot of freezing weather, our 2013 wheat crop is on its fourth or fifth life - at least. It kind of looked like a slushy machine had erupted in the wheat fields again on Tuesday morning. 
May, however, brought some unseasonably cool weather and rain showers at the right time. It turned out to be ideal weather for filling wheat heads. Contrast this year's mild temperatures with last year, when we had already had several 100-degree days in May, and we began cutting wheat on May 26 and finished on June 9, the earliest ever. (Our July 6, 2013, finish date this year was almost a full month later than last year.)
I know our fellow wheat farmers to the west were not so fortunate. For them, the adage was just a tired old saying. Around here, we still need more rain to officially "bust" the drought, but they desperately need moisture. Many of them had to abandon their wheat crops. Others had paltry yields, but they cut it anyway, trying to get seed wheat for next year.
The end of Wheat Harvest 2013 was a little anticlimactic around here, since we weren't actually cutting it ourselves. The custom cutters hauled the last load of our wheat to Stafford on Saturday, but one of our own trucks is already in the shed, and the combine is still in the repair shop in Hutchinson. And the guys have moved on to hay harvest and disking.

But we are extremely thankful for the harvest. I guess wheat is kind of like an old farmer: It often responds in the face of adversity and trials.

8 comments:

  1. Glad you had a great harvest! Thank you for sharing the the many weather attacks on the 2013 wheat.

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    1. It's pretty amazing when you consider all the obstacles. I hope your harvest was a good one, too!

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  2. Yea! So glad this year was better!

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    1. Thanks, Mrs. E. As I implied in the post, I'm a little hesitant to share how good our harvest was when I know that Kansans to the west of us did not have the same miracle happen for them. But, we are thankful, and part of the unwritten "mission statement" for the blog is recording some of this for family history.

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  3. There is definitely a lesson for us all in the 2013 wheat crop. Obstacles are always going to come our way, but by the grace of God we survive and sometimes thrive. Isn't it amazing how often life teaches us through everyday things?

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    1. Yes, it IS amazing! Often, during the obstacles, it's a challenge to open our eyes and recognize that.

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  4. Congrats on a great wheat harvest. The wheat here is getting closer to cutting. They start with hay harvest here first, then wheat. Should be a good harvest here. We had timely rains for all the crops and pastures. After a cold Spring.

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    1. I love all the seasons on the farm, and your "neck of the woods" looks beautiful, too.

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