Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Just Sow-Sow

Life around here has been "sow-sow" for the past week and a half. We are planting our 2016 wheat crop. Some people would say we are "sowing" the wheat crop. No matter the semantics, we've been at it since September 24 and still have several days to go.
Wheat is the primary crop here on the County Line, with a little more than 1,400 of the acres we farm planted to 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.

So why is wheat our primary crop? First, we don't irrigate. Wheat is more drought tolerant than corn or soybeans. While the seed genetics are getting better and helping make dryland corn and soybeans a more viable crop in this part of the state, wheat is a proven performer in less-than-ideal conditions. (Of course, we would love to have ideal conditions, but that rarely happens.)

Case in point: We could definitely use some rain. Randy is having to plant the wheat seeds about 2 inches into the ground in an attempt to find some sub-soil moisture.
This was a graphic I created in 2012, after reading the quote in The Hutchinson News.
But he's planting anyway because it's that time of year. And my farmer is optimist, a good trait in a farmer and a husband, as I've said before.
Earlier in September, we had the co-op topdress the wheat ground with dry fertilizer. Using information from soil tests, varying amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium were added to the fields.
Jake is disking the ground ahead of the planter. (There have been some spectacular skies - just no rain!)

As we plant the wheat, we add a liquid fertilizer.  One of my jobs is hauling fertilizer tanks to the field and then returning to Zenith to get more fertilizer.

The starter fertilizer is a combination of nitrogen and phosphorus laid down right beside the planted seed. As the seed germinates, its roots seek out the nutrients, establishing a strong root system.
The fertilizer gets transferred from the 1,000-gallon "nurse" tank pulled by the pickup to this tank on the drill. Then it goes into tubes ...
and is squirted out of small holes in the drill.
While he's stopped, Randy also fills the drill with seed wheat.
The wheat in the back of the truck is seed wheat saved from the 2015 harvest.
Having the auger is a lot easier than scooping, which we did back in the "olden days."
We have our wheat treated with an insecticide - Cruiser - and a fungicide - Vibrance Extreme.That's why it's that color instead of "golden."
Randy still has to add the certified seed by hand, or rather, sackful. I also made a trip to Miller Seed Farm to pick up our certified seed - KanMark and WB4458.
We plant that seed fairly near the farm headquarters so that we can bin it during harvest and start the whole process over again.
"Sow," there you have it ... wheat planting on a Central Kansas farm. About 9 months from now, we'll hope and pray for a bountiful harvest.


  1. Oh I truly wish we could send you some of our rain. It is supposed to drop down to 4 Celsius her Thursday night. That means with a couple more drops in temp our rain could be snow. Hope your rain comes now. Good job. Hug B

    1. We would gladly take it, B! We may get some over the weekend. We had a breakdown on the disk and packers this afternoon, which slowed us down while the guys tried to get things put back together. Randy just went back to the drill.

  2. Kim,

    Hope you get back up and planting. I also hope you can snag some moisture. We had showers on Monday. The total was less than a quarter inch and it was foggy this morn.

    Getting ready to attend Women in Ag Thursday and Friday. Sounds like will have antelope hunters around this weekend.

    Hang in there!

  3. Have a wonderful time at Women in Ag! Antelope hunters is definitely not something we have around here. We have deer, waterfowl and pheasant hunters, depending on the season!

  4. Doesn't seem that long ago that I was reading about your wheat harvest, and here you are back sowing. The year certainly does go fast. We too are singing out for rain, not for sowing but for growing. Locally the dryland crops are really suffering, and many wheat crops are being cut for hay as they will not finish for grain. Irrigated crops not fairing much better with only a 6% water allocation water is very scarce. A farmer has to be such an optimist..

  5. I hope you will get some rain, too, Lynda! We are much better off now than 2 years ago as far as the drought monitor goes, but we are no longer planting into moisture. A nice, gentle rain is just what we'd order, if we could!