Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Scout's Honor

4-H is our youth program of choice, but yesterday, we were Scouts for the afternoon.

One of Scouting's well-known mottos is "Be Prepared." We put that trademark phrase to the test as we scouted wheat fields for damage after last week's hail/sleet/ice/rain storm.

Our county Extension agent has been sending emails since the storm last week. Armed with those photographic images and information he has sent from agronomists at K-State Research and Extension, we visited several different fields.

It's been interesting to see how different fields have looked from the road. With just a dirt road separating fields, our wheat field has looked markedly greener than a neighbor's just to the south. Did it have to do with variety? Was it a difference in the maturity of the crop? Is it just surface freeze damage that caused the two fields to look so different?
There definitely is freeze damage to the leaves. However, that's not a critical factor in whether or not the plant will produce a crop.
We checked wheat that had been planted early in our two-week planting window, as well as wheat that had been planted near the end. We have two varieties of wheat this year - Everest and Stout - and Randy checked for damage with all those variables.
First, he pulled wheat plants up by the roots. Then he took stalks and found the growing point, or joint. To find the joint, he ran his fingers up the stem and found a "bump." Highly scientific, I know!
We took the wheat stalks back to the pickup, where he performed a bit of surgery with a scalpel, cutting along the stem to uncover the head. 
Inside, he found that the heads - or growing points - seemed green. He also noted that it wasn't "mushy" below the joint (more highly technical terminology), which might have indicated freeze damage.
In the photo below, you can even see the head, the place which will produce the grain for Harvest 2013.  The main flag leaf hadn't yet emerged before the ice storm. The joints we found were only 1 to 2 inches above the ground, which helped protect them from the freezing temperatures.  
He's fairly optimistic that the damage isn't extensive to the crop. If this same hail/ice storm had happened at this time last year, the results would have been much worse because the crop matured so early.

Freezing temperatures are again forecast later this week, so we'll see how weather continues to impact this crop. As farmers always say, it's a long time to harvest. But it does seem to be good news for now.

While we were out, we also scouted the alfalfa fields, which look even worse from the road. There is freeze damage to the alfalfa. Randy says the freeze-damaged alfalfa won't produce hay, but the plants will start growing again.
Surveying the alfalfa fields
I debated a long time about whether or not to post today. In light of the tragic, senseless bombing at the Boston Marathon yesterday, it doesn't seem like I should celebrate that our wheat crop seems to have survived its own calamity - at least for the moment.

But then I saw something posted on a young friend's Facebook page. And I decided that what the world needs is good news in the face of tragedy. She shared these words from Comedian Patton Oswalt.  (Yes, I realize a minister might be a better source for comfort in times of trouble. But I really liked what he had to say):
I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity." But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage, and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. ... The vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. ... So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."
Patton Oswalt


  1. A very inspiring post Kim. I always like positive thoughts rattling around this old brain.

    Karla K.

    1. Thanks for taking time to comment, Karla! I truly appreciate that.