Wheat field

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 …

Golden seeds
Fallen before their time
Crushed in nature’s wheels of change.

Thanks Seonaid.

Wheatdownone

10 thoughts on “Wheat field

    • Yeah … those guys are STILL trying to harvest that field. First it was an equipment breakdown and now the weather won’t cooperate … and they’re not quite half done! I’m glad I’m not a ‘real’ farmer. The stress would be the end of me. D

  1. I am constantly startled at how our growing seasons are different. Many of the fields were too wet to seed this year in south eastern Saskatchewan, so when we don’t see bare dirt or weedy growth I see the short soft green plants of new growth. We won’t see seed heads for a while yet.

    • Our summer has come on way too rapidly. It’s hot, hot, hot, and humid, humid, humid here today. Glad we made hay when we did … there’s no making it now and for next week or so … way too wet. Whew. D

    • Good question Maurice. Modern combines, in theory anyway, shouldn’t have much of a problem picking up with a lodged crop such as this but they do say that severe lodging can lead to reductions in yield of up to 50%! Sheesh. D

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