Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sun Sets on Wheat Planting

God's canvas is as big as a Kansas horizon. As the sun sank into the west and tinged the clouds above with light, His masterpiece spoke of promise and hope. It's a good thing to remember as we come to the end of wheat planting.

As I've hauled people and meals to the field, the air has been heavy with dust as tractors pulling discs and drills run back and forth across dry land. Though we were blessed with some good rains in July, it hasn't rained appreciably since. And we are once again planting into dust.
This was a graphic I created last year, after reading the quote in The Hutchinson News.
It may not be as bad as it was last year during planting when we were in the second year of exceptional drought, but it still reminds me of the chorus of a Brad Paisley song:
And the tractor keeps rollin'
The dust rises high
Creating the only cloud in the sky
He's holdin' his ground
But it's gettin' tough
He's keepin' his faith
In the Lord up above
And prayin' for rain
Through a cloud of dust
We began planting the 2014 wheat crop on September 23 and finished yesterday, October 9. Wheat is the primary crop here on the County Line, with a little more than 1,400 of the acres we farm planted to wheat.
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 2013 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 Cruiser, a fungicide, which helps protect the small wheat plants from disease. It's also treated with Vibrance Extreme, an insecticide which helps keep bugs at bay.
We also buy some certified seed in bags to plant for our own seed wheat for the following year. This year, Randy bought 1863, a new Kansas State University-developed variety, and Cedar, a WestBred-developed wheat seed. This gets new wheat varieties in our rotation and helps keep the purity in the seed.
Once we got home with the certified seed, it went immediately into the drill. We had to go back later to pick up the wheat in the truck, after it had been cleaned and treated. Randy then augered it into the drill for planting. 
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.

This year for the first time, we planted wheat in fields where we had just harvested corn. So, it's a different sight to see corn cobs lying in the newly-emerging wheat. And, some volunteer corn has sprouted along with the wheat. However, when we get a frost, the corn will die.
The corn is the rounded plant. The wheat looks like grass.
The wheat is coming up in the earlier-planted fields like little soldiers in a row. And the cycle of life continues here on the County Line.
Before the reward, there must be labor. 
You plant before you harvest. 
You sow in tears before you reap joy.
Artist Ralph Ransom

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