Spring is the time for planting. In autumn, we reap a bountiful harvest of crops. At least, most of the time.
Growing wheat is a bit different. First of all, there are several varieties of wheat and some are planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. Most of the wheat you see in pictures, however, is some variety of winter wheat. This wheat is planted in the fall, a few weeks before cold weather sets in. The seeds sprout and grow just a bit before freezing weather stops the plant’s progress until spring. Then, earlier than even your lawn, the fields of wheat sprout fresh and green just as winter ends. Have you seen fields of bright green grass in the spring? It was likely wheat!
Throughout the spring the wheat grows taller, reaching at least waist-high on a grown man. From this point the heads of wheat begin to fill out. That means the wheat is growing not by getting taller but by making the kernels all plump and fat. After that the plant begins to die, turning from green to gold.
And then, right on time for singing “amber waves of grain” and buying your fireworks, the wheat is dry. These are the fields you often see in photographs with long stalks of wheat, heavy with grains on the end. Now the wheat is ready to be harvested– right in the middle of summer.
So as you travel on your summer vacation keep an eye out for combines. Have you seen any harvesting wheat?