Sunday, September 2, 2012

Wheat Harvest Report, Southwest Kansas

By Rob Watson

:::: dateline early June :::::
Disclaimer: Most of what I know about judging the wheat harvest, was learned yesterday. My teacher was a friend who has been planting and harvesting dry land wheat for 60 years or so. Taking my opinion as anything of value would be exceedingly hazardous to your financial conditions.

The time for harvesting wheat here in southwest Kansas is drawing near. It should probably start in two or three weeks. My own plot of 1/4 acre is looking pretty good except where the deer and local kids have trampled it down. (I irrigated mine with a water hose)

Friend (and teacher) invited me to lunch in a nearby town. On the way we passed a number of wheat fields. Friend began to shake his head and bemoan the condition of the crops as we passed. After lunch Friend wanted to take the "Scenic" route home to look at more fields. All of the fields we passed were judged to be in poor condition.

"Say, Friend" says I, "in church today we prayed for rain. Won't that help these fields some?"

"No, not much. The flag leaf is dried up" (The flag leaf provides the plant with the starches it stores in the grain.)

"The grain heads are mostly big and golden tan. How can you tell they are in poor condition?"

"See how all the heads stand straight up on the end of the stalk. They are empty. If they had grain in them, they would start to tilt over to the side from the weight."

Mine was the last patch we passed before going home. Lots of the grain heads were tilted over where water had been generously applied. Other parts of the patch did not look so good.

::: Dateline Labor Day :::
My friend imposed upon a friend of his to harvest my 1/4 acre (160ft by 60 ft) or (50 meters by 20 meters). Unfortunately I was out of town at the time and did not get to see how the harvester maneuvered his huge machine about my tiny patch in order to accomplish the harvest. The yield was about 6 bushels (180KG).

My grain cleaner was made from a 2x4, two pieces of peg board, an exhaust fan from an old oven hood, and 9 small cardboard boxes.  I pour the grain in the top. The fan blows the materials out the side. Heavy items, grain, fall in the nearest boxes. Lighter items fall progressively farther away. The first box is almost pure, clean grain. The last box is almost pure chaff. Everything in between is some mixture of both and needs to be rerun. The last step is to pour the cleaned grain, by half-cup fulls into a pan, shake it around and pick out the remaining chaff.

One of the byproducts, in the lighter material, seems to be several pounds of immature grain. Each of these grains appears to be the seed germ with almost no starch. Wild guessing leads me to think this is very high in wheat germ oil, wheat protein, and bran. It was probably formed in the dryer areas of my patch and is the product of the wheat plant's valiant effort to reproduce.

In any case, I now have lots of my own, home-grown, Hard Red Winter wheat to be ground into flour and used in my almost famous "Whole Wheat cinnamon pecan pumpkin waffles.

No comments:

Post a Comment