Normal Stuff in an Abnormal Year: Seed Wheat

Our church service was back online last Sunday after an uptick in Covid-19 cases in our rural county. The back-to-school video posted by our community's elementary teachers required a closer look last week as their enthusiastic faces were covered with masks. Our granddaughters' back-to-school clothes shopping was accomplished through an online order. We made the decision to roll over our 2020 K-State football season tickets and hope for a return to Bill Snyder Family Stadium in 2021 instead.

While I enjoyed the text-message fashion show from the cutest school models I know, it was a depressing week. The news and the constant "us vs. them" attitude that permeates social media? It's enough to raise a white flag and declare, "I surrender!"

So a little "normalcy" in our day-to-day business life last week was welcome. It was seed wheat cleaning time. With the world in constant change this year, having the "same-old, same old" on most of our farming tasks has been refreshing.

There was a sign on the door of Miller Seed Farm, asking customers to wear a mask if they came into the office. But the process of getting ready for wheat planting was as comfortable as slipping into comfy, broken-in shoes.

Because of the cyclical nature of farming, I have written "the same" stories during these past 10+ years of blogging. In the time since I launched my blog in January 2010, we've had 11 wheat harvests. So, behind the scenes, we've planted the wheat crop and managed it every year - from seed wheat to fertilizing to praying for rain or praying the rain quits - and then again sending the golden grain through the combine reel. 

And even though the world itself is different this year with Covid-19 and the attached restrictions, there's still a wheat crop to be planted and a new harvest to anticipate. 

During this summer's harvest, Randy saved two varieties of wheat - Bob Dole and Zenda - to be used for planting our 2021 crop. The two different varieties are stored in two separate bins in on-farm storage until we can get it cleaned.

We made multiple trips back and forth this past week from home to Miller Seed Farm near Partridge. With farmers in the area looking ahead to the 2021 wheat crop, Randy scheduled an appointment to get our seed wheat cleaned, leaving plenty of time before planting time begins in late September or early October.  It ends up looking a little like a farm parking lot as trucks are lined up for their turn at the cleaning process.


Come planting time, we will also purchase some certified seed from Miller's, which we will bin during the 2021 harvest and the process will begin yet again with a march toward the 2022 crop.

And the cycle goes on.

As I watched as our two trucks stopped at the scale house to be weighed at Miller Seed Farm, I looked at the backdrop of a gorgeous August sky. Maybe the Kansas sky was just as dramatic last year. I'm sure I have photos that would either support that notion or prove it false.

But I only "see" those similarities and those contrasts if I take time to look. I need eyes to see it ... and the motivation to go down the road to experience it. And I get to hang out with this cute guy!

You may be wondering why the wheat isn't golden in color like it was at harvest. After it's cleaned, we have Miller Seed Farm treat it with an insecticide and a herbicide, giving it its rust-colored hue. This is an extra expense, but we believe it will get the 2021 wheat crop off to a good start. Detractors worry about the amount of chemicals that go into the mix. However, only 0.48 ounce per bushel of Cruiser is used, while 1.68 ounce per bushel of the Vibrance product is used. Think about a little bottle of eye drops (usually about 0.5 ounces). Adding slightly more than 2 ounces to a whole bushel of grain is really not much!


After the wheat comes back to the farm from cleaning, we (OK, Randy) puts it back in the bin to be stored until we plant it in late September or early October. He raises the bed on the tandem truck and tilts it into a tub, where an auger carries it back into the bin.

The white rod in this photo shows the PTO. It's attached to a tractor, which turns the shaft and powers the auger.

 Here are wider shots of the process.

 And here's a video I shot in 2018:

Seed wheat into storage bin from Kim Fritzemeier on Vimeo.

It'll be wheat planting time before we know it. Oh, if only the rest of the world could have that level of normalcy ...  I can dream, can't I?

#2021Wheat #MillerSeedFarms #BinningSeedWheat #SeedWheat
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