Randy had done some test cuts the day before, and it was just a little too wet. But by Tuesday afternoon, we were ready to channel our inner Jackie Gleason and say, "And Awaaaay We Go!"
As always, it's interesting to look in the rearview mirror and do a little comparison. I started blogging in 2010, so I have a handy way to research the beginning date for our harvest for the past 11 years:
2010: June 18
2011: June 10
2012: May 26 (an anomaly and the earliest harvest, by far, we've ever had)
2013: June 21
2014: June 17
2015: June 20
2016: June 15
2017: June 12
2018: June 12
2019: June 26
2020: June 16
But we've both been involved in wheat harvest our entire lives - me growing up on a farm in northern Pratt County and Randy just down the road from where we were cutting that day.
Settlers mostly used varieties they brought from the Eastern U.S. or western Europe. The most successful early imported variety was Turkey Hard Red Winter Wheat. It was brought to Kansas by Mennonite settlers were arrived from the Ukraine in 1874.
My brother posted this video sometime last year, and I showed it to Stafford Elementary 2nd graders when I spoke to their class about farming then and now last fall. It's from Washington state, so the hilly landscape is much different from my part of Kansas. But it's still fascinating to watch. It's dated 1938. It's astounding how many horses and people were needed to accomplish harvest.
By 1880, planted acres in Kansas were up to 2 million, but the yield that year was only 10 bu/acre. By 1930, acres totaled 13.6 million and average yield was 14.2 bu/acre. Wheat production hit its peak in 1937 with 17.1 million, but abandonment of failed acres was huge, with only 13.1 acres harvested and a yield of 12 bu/acre.
Even though the view our ancestors saw out their front doors might be somewhat similar, I wonder what those Kansas farming pioneers would think of our mammoth machines today?