It is the time of year that certain grain crops reach maturity and then dry-down. It was the first week in July, last year, that I posted about a local wheat harvest that was going on down along the river. Things have gone a bit differently this year, for one field I have been watching. Things got off to a good start and the plants grew well through May and early June. I noticed, a few weeks ago, that the crop had become lodged in a few places. Grain crops can lodge when individual plants develop very large seed heads and produce excessively long stems. One doesn’t need to be an engineer to understand how it is that the former causes the plant to become top-heavy and unstable, especially when it is very tall. Such growth characteristics may occur when either fertilizers are applied too early or when fertilizer residues (from the application of manure over winter) are high. You would think that tall, high yielding, plants would be a good thing. Well, when plants such as this meet with driving rains and heavy winds, it is anything but good. Although we have not had lots of wind and rain lately it only takes one strong storm to start the lodging process. And that is what I observed several weeks ago. The swirls of lodged plants were small at first and these grew with the passage of weather fronts which brought wind, rain, or both. The heavy rains which arrived late Thursday afternoon caused local flooding not far from here and the weather radio announced both tornado warnings and watches throughout the evening. Although Pairodox came through it all unscathed I am sorry to report that the field I have been following is now extensively lodged. To the photographer’s eye however there was something of a silver lining to all of this and I recorded that yesterday morning. As I passed the field and wondered how much its yield would be reduced and whether it could be harvested at all, it occurred to me that the plants, as they toppled, had captured the movements of the forces that drove them. The field was a confusion of swirls, eddies, small islands of standing plants, and very large swaths of others laid flat. I imagined, as I surveyed the damage, that I was floating over a dense bed of seaweed, watching the ocean currents and tides toss the algal fronds to-and-fro. The difference being that in the ocean, the algae are in constant motion, dancing, while here on dry land, lodged plants are still, flattened, and seemingly forlorn.
After posting this image and these words my friend from breathofgreenair commented with the following …
Fallen before their time
Crushed in nature’s wheels of change.