Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Different Kind of Flowering

Here on the County Line, spring has brought bulbs and buds and blossoming, giving an amateur photographer plenty of beautiful material.

But this week, there's another kind of flowering going on. The wheat crop is flowering.

I have been a Kansas farm girl my whole life. And I must admit that I had to ask my resident expert about wheat flowering.

My consultant walked into a wheat field and showed me the pollen sticking to his blue jeans. That indicates that the wheat crop is flowering, he proclaimed. Our dog Ralph's black coat was similarly dotted with yellow pollen after a scamper through a field.

Why was I interested in the wheat flowering? It's not like snapping a photo of a beautiful tulip peaking out of the ground after a cold winter or a red bud tree's prolific blossoms. Though I must admit, I really do like the photo of the wheat silhouetted against the stormy blue sky, and Randy says you can see the pollen in this photo. (I'll have to take his word for it. I am visually challenged.)

You can see the pollen better in the photo below (along with all the lines in my favorite farmer's hands!)

Well, I was interested in flowering wheat because I've been hearing and reading about the prevalence of wheat diseases in Kansas this spring. Farmers can only use some fungicides to combat the diseases before the wheat flowers. It's a window that makes it safe for human consumption after it's harvested.

This week's report from Kansas Agricultural Statistics says that the wheat crop is starting to show signs of stress because of disease and lack of moisture.

It's a conundrum for farmers to figure out whether or not to use fungicide this year. The price of wheat X the yield is only a break-even point for most people. If the yield looked higher and the price was a lot higher, the decision could be easier.

Thankfully, our crop doesn't appear to have too much disease infiltrating it, but we could use some rain.

Monday afternoon's and Tuesday night's storms skirted the County Line. We got a sprinkle of rain, but it certainly didn't offer much of a drink of water to the wheat crop.

But we will gladly skip the accompanying hail and the tornadoes, thank you very much. Nothing like being picky, right?!

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