Monday, September 29, 2014

A Good Day for Football ... Or Wheat Planting

There was a football ballgame in Manhattan on Saturday. But the Wildcats had to get the job done without us this week. We were in the midst of a job of our own - wheat planting.

In between helping the guys move the tractor and drill, seed wheat truck and fertilizer pickup from field to field, I watched the game on TV. I saw the American flag waving in the pretty blue, cloud-dotted sky over Bill Snyder Family Stadium and thought, "Wow, it would be a gorgeous day to shoot photos at the ballgame."

But it was a pretty day to shoot photos of wheat planting, too.

We began planting the 2015 wheat crop a week ago on Monday, September 22. We begin this Monday morning with approximately one-third of our 1,400 acres planted.
Here in Central Kansas, we plant winter wheat. It's planted in the fall and then goes dormant during the cold months of winter before coming out of its "hibernation" and growing again next spring, then maturing for a June harvest.

We saved some of our 2014 crop in bins on the farm to use as seed wheat. It's binned during harvest, and then we load it into the truck to take to Miller Seed Farms near Partridge for cleaning. They treat it with a fungicide, which helps protect the small wheat plants from disease. It's also treated with an insecticide which helps keep bugs at bay. (Those treatments are what gives the wheat its pink tinge.)
We also buy some certified seed from Miller Seed Farm to plant for our own seed wheat for the following year. This year, Randy bought 1863, a Kansas State University-developed variety, and Cedar, a WestBred-developed wheat seed. This helps keep the purity in the seed.
We got 0.80" of rain last Wednesday. It was a timely rain for us, and the guys are still planting into moisture. This is different from the past three years, when we've dusted in wheat in extremely dry conditions.
We get the fertilizer at the Zenith branch of the Kanza Co-op and haul it in a tank to the field. Randy applies a starter fertilizer to give the seeds a headstart. It's called 19-17: It's 19 percent nitrogen and 17 percent phosphorous. He applies 12 gallons of 19-17 fertilizer per acre.

This summer, the guys put anhydrous fertilizer  on the wheat ground at a rate of 60 pounds per acre .
And now we wait. Yesterday, as we drove by a field on the way to church, Randy squinted his eyes and said, "I think I see some green." For the record, I didn't.

As with every planting season, I think about the optimism that seems to be part of the fabric of every farmer. They put a seed in the ground and then wait like a kid on Christmas morning. They slow down as they pass a planted field, just waiting for that first glimmer of green. And then the miracle begins again for yet another season. (Or so we hope and pray!)
I'll be getting fertilizer today, as well as bringing the noon meal to the field so the guys can keep the tractors rolling. And so a new week begins on the County Line!


  1. Good Luck with Winter Wheat planting, Miss Kim. Lots of farmers doing the same around here. We have a few neighbors that are planting less winter wheat due to needing to change their crop rotation a bit.

    We hauled more hay this weekend and it's raining now. Glad to have the moisture.

    1. We hope to get some of the rain forecast here for mid-week. We will gladly take a break to have some more moisture. Have a great week!