By Jenny Burgess on June 30, 2016

Rolling through the wheat field

As many of you may have come to realize while driving the roads and highways of Kansas this summer, wheat harvest is underway. There are more trucks on the road, or you may have seen a combine or two making dust in golden grain that waves when the wind blows.

As a Kansan, nothing makes it feel more like home than wheat harvest. While some of us are cutting grain that will eventually end up in your bread, pastries or pasta dishes for your table, others are just enjoying the summer by the lake, pool or patio. Oh, how much I would enjoy a dip in a cool pool on these 100 degree days!

combine in wheat field

As the days of harvest approach, it can take a while to get started because some of the wheat is still green. We spend the mornings walking the fields to see which one we may be able to start on.

During this process, we use the tried-and-true chew test to see if the grain is ready.  I grew up with my dad chewing the straw of the wheat to see if it was ready, but today, we chew the grain. This shows us the moisture level in the grain. If the kernel is rock hard and you feel like you’re going to chip a tooth, it’s probably ready to cut.

man in wheat field
There are two important factors as we take our grain to the market.  First, we like to have the moisture of wheat less than 14 percent. If it is any higher, it can cause problems in the bin of the combine, truck or elevator. The weight of the grain is also important to us. Elevators will test for moisture and weigh your grain by the bushel (picture a bushel basket of apples) when you drop it off. The higher the test weight, the higher return for our paycheck.

For many, the smells, sounds and tastes of summer are finally rolling in. Fireflies lighting up the grass with a twinkle that even my little ones can’t resist catching. My greatest joy is taking the kids for a ride in the cab, just like I did with my dad when I was young. What a great childhood memory!  We would head to the elevator in our old wheat truck and look forward to getting candy from the scale operator every time.

father and son in wheat truck
As a farmer, there is nothing like actually getting to start up that combine, tractor or truck for the first harvest of the year.  Being able to reap what we have sown and taken care of for eight months is so very rewarding. Although life can be hectic during the harvest season, it can also be the best of times to make memories that will last a lifetime.

What are your summers like with your family? Are they laid back or busier than ever? Let me know through email, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Regardless of what the world around us is doing farmers are still working tirelessly on bringing in the crops that will soon be on your grill or table.