This is our wheat field.
There are different ways to grow wheat, but on our farm we plant it in the fall when the wheat has a chance to germinate and grow just a little before the cold weather sets in. During the coldest months wheat hibernates and then with the first rays of spring sun the little sprouts are ready to green up again.
Or they’re supposed to.
The reality of this year was the POLAR VORTEX. Snow flurries began just days after the wheat was planted and the spring sun, well, we’re still not sure its around to stay.
Which means an entire wheat crop has been lost.
We brought out an agronomist and the insurance adjuster to look at the fields. Both pointed out that, besides the bare spots where no wheat is even growing, the plants that are growing are not healthy and only a third will develop wheat berries. Of that third almost all are developing wheat heads that are growing sideways instead of straight up. That means they won’t pollinate well, loosing another third of whatever crop we might have had. Then there is the matter of the plants being small and stunted, meaning the combine won’t be able to pull the crop into its reel and we’ll loose even more grain.
The end result was estimated to be less than 2 bushel of wheat per acre.
Yeah. That’s about the same as nothing.
Thankfully we will be able to kill the wheat (the lingo is “burn” the wheat) and go ahead and plant beans in those fields. It will hurt most where we planned for a wheat harvest in June so we could repair terraces in the summer. Beans won’t be harvested until after repair work is over, meaning these fields will wait another year.
But farming has always been a risky business and we knew that before we planted wheat last fall, or before we planted crops the previous spring, and even before we ever began to farm at all. Every year is uncertian; every crop is just hope.
Every day is a gamble for a farmer.