Monday, August 1, 2016

A Kernel of the Process: Cleaning Seed Wheat

"On the road again
Can't wait to get on the road again ..."

With all due respect to Willie Nelson, I have lost track of the trips we made to Miller Seed Farms in the last couple of weeks. (One of my trips was when Randy left his phone in a truck, but who's counting?)

You can't beat the scenery along the way. Rains have made the pastures a vibrant green. Blue skies dotted with fluffy white clouds made it absolutely "necessary" to make a brief stop for a photo op.
And, yes, I still arrived on time.
I'm not the only one around here who likes to plan ahead. Randy is already looking toward planting our 2017 wheat crop. Before planting this fall, we take the wheat we stored in on-farm bins during harvest time to get cleaned and treated before wheat planting.
Randy uses an auger to move the wheat from the bin into the truck. The tractor's PTO runs the auger.  After the truck is full, he tarps it and takes it to Miller Seed Farms. As seems to be a recurring theme this summer, we had a breakdown during the process. But, thankfully, the shaft on the auger held together until most of the seed wheat had been taken out of the bin. (This morning, before the temperature soars to the 100-degree mark, the guys are going to work on taking apart the auger. Hopefully, it will be an easy fix.)
We had a different kind of wheat stored in another bin (but I wasn't there to take photos at that time).
Once at the seed farms, the first stop is the scales. Just like at the local co-op, we need to know - and the seed farm needs to know - how much grain was trucked in.
We brought wheat in both the tandem truck and the semi.
Farmers may store their own wheat and plant it for their next crop, but only for their own use.
This year, Randy saved two varieties at harvest time, KanMark (a K-State release) and WB 4458 (a WestBred variety) to plant for seed wheat for our 2017 crop.
We have our wheat treated with an insecticide - Cruiser - and a fungicide - Vibrance Extreme. This is an extra expense, but we believe it will get the 2017 wheat crop off to a good start. Detractors worry about the amount of chemicals that go into the mix. However, only 0.48 ounce per bushel of Cruiser is used, while 1.68 ounce per bushel of the Vibrance product is used. Think about a little bottle of eye drops (usually about 0.5 ounces). Adding slightly more than 2 ounces to a whole bushel of grain is really not much!

Once the wheat is cleaned and treated, it's loaded back into our trucks for the trip back to the on-farm storage bin.

This fall, we'll also pick up some certified seed from Miller Seed Farms. This year, Randy reserved more KanMark and WB 4458 to plant for the 2018 seed wheat. At wheat planting time, we'll pick it up in sacks. The journey toward another wheat harvest has already begun! (I started the blog post with a Willie Nelson tune. Cue The Lion King's "Circle of Life" to end it!)


  1. Thanks for another very informative piece of the daily life / routines on your farm.
    Are these temperatures normal for you?

  2. Triple digits aren't unheard of in summer. The weatherman says the average right now is 93, and we are above that this week.

    1. I can accept 33 C / 93 F, but wilt with anything higher. Hope it doesn't last long.

  3. This was so very informative, thank you so much. I had no idea that a farmer can keep only enough wheat for his own use. I am not a farm girl obviously lol. I would love to read more posts like this. I can't be the only person not to know this, or maybe I am!

    I enjoy your blog so much, all of it every topic.

    God Bless, Dee

    1. Thank you for taking time to comment, Dee! I appreciate that very much.

    2. It might be worth explaining why. Seed companies and/or universities spend a lot of money developing new varieties which may be more drought resistant or resistant to diseases like rust (for example). They need to protect their investment so they can continue to keep innovating.

  4. Very interesting post. thanks a lot. The big mill in Stanwood was sold and torn down 3 years ago--Wolfkill Mill--The one in Monroe wa closed too. We still have Conway near us. I sometimes watch the trucks go un a dump or fill. Interesting because I really don't know what they are doing. So again thanks.

    1. I think that's is what so interesting about following blogs in different parts of the country. I love seeing both the similarities and the differences in the different regions. To me, the blog photos you post of the tulips, etc., are so foreign to me, but I love seeing them and learning something new.