Posts tagged harvesting
Making Lunches

We visited the farm last weekend to introduce two of my favorite people in the world to wheat harvest. It's a busy, dusty, exhausting, fun time of the year.

The days are usually really long - starting in the morning and reaching until way past sunset as long as the grain is still dry enough to cut. Dad is super efficient when he's harvesting. Actually, he's always super efficient. And everybody has their place in the wheat harvest train.

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Sustainability Spotlight: Local Vegetable Farm

Meet Joe Miller. He and his wife, Chris, are the full-time owners/operators of Miller Farms, a medium-sized vegetable farm in Northern Colorado. Miller Farms consists of 400 acres of vegetables, additional acreage in field corn, and a few more acres of hay.

In addition to farming, a couple of years ago they started to raise cattle for beef – but it’s not much – they originally got into cattle because their kids and grandkids liked to work with them. This sentiment is telling of why Joe is involved in farming at all: his passion is teaching kids and adults where food comes from. He wants to make food affordable.

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Sustainability Spotlight: Industry Perspective

Last December, Marvin showed up on my parents’ doorstep.

Marvin works for ADM (Archer Daniels Midland Company – although nobody ever calls them by their full name) as a marketing agent who procures grain from local farmers.

He and his company want to sustainably source wheat in Central Kansas, but “sustainable” first needs to be defined. Thus ADM is looking for producers willing to share information about their farming practices.  The goal of this  Field to Market program is to determine the most profitable - yet environmentally friendly - way to raise wheat. ADM, in turn, wants to partner with these farms to purchase this sustainably grown grain.

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But Where Does it All Go?

A few months ago I wrote about the volatility of the farming economy - the Invisible Hand of supply, demand, and incentive programs. Today, that picture is more evident than ever as you drive across the plains of Kansas: mounds of grains are piled high outside of elevators that have been at capacity for months. I mentioned the record-breaking yields that farmers have had this year.

Most industries vary their output based on demand. If toy giraffes are all the rage with the age-one-to-three-year-olds this year, you better believe that more toy giraffes are going to saunter off the production line. When the popularity of giraffes wanes, production decreases.

Unlike other types of producers, farmers are much more at the mercy of the elements (rather than demand) to determine their output, and consumption remains relatively stable. So, when output goes up, prices go down and storage overflows.

This begs the question: where does all that extra grain go??

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Volatility

Unpredictability is the name of the game when it comes to farming. Weather, pests, breakdowns, and (perhaps most frustrating), the marketplace.

Things have been especially good this year: plenty of rain and sunshine at just the right time. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) it's been good everywhere. The Former Soviet Union and Europe had record-breaking wheat harvests this year. Thus, surpluses abound.

For those of you who've had training in basic economics, you know what happens to price when supply outweighs demand. That's right - price goes down.

That's what's happening right now.

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Wheat Harvest

Most people think that Kansas is land-locked. They would be right -- except for June, when seas of golden wheat stretch across the plains. Millions of stalks of grain shift in the hot summer breeze, creating the illusion of waves gently sloshing in the fields of ocean.

I love this time of year.

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The Harvest Crew

Every year my parents host a post-harvest celebration. They usually go out to a restaurant (that way mom gets to enjoy the time without worrying about cooking) and spend a couple of hours enjoying great company and great food.

The crew has changed over the years. It used to take many more people to get the job done, but with new technology it now takes one combine to do the work of two.

May I introduce you to the current Scheufler Farms harvest crew.

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Milo (Sorghum) Harvest 2015

Scheufler Farms, Inc. Fall Harvest 2015 is officially over. It ended last Friday, when the crew finished in the milo field.

Usually it's the double-crop beans that are last crop standing in the field, but it was a warm, dry fall. Usually the first freeze of the year halts the milo's growth, which causes it to dry more quickly and allow it to be harvested before the last of the beans. The first freeze in Central Kansas came late this year.

Milo, or sorghum, is a lesser-known grain. It certainly has its benefits, however, so I'm excited to introduce you to this commodity crop.

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Fall: Harvest, Planting, and My (Dad's) Happy Place

Fall is a busy time on a Kansas farm. It's the place on the calendar where harvest and planting intersect.

Unlike wheat harvest, which wraps up in less than two weeks, fall harvest lasts from September until all of the crops are harvested. Which, depending on the weather, can be anywhere from November to early January (although that's unusual and not really ideal).

While the rest of the world is thinking about pumpkins and spiced cider, my dad is in the field on every dry day and praying for rain after he's planted the wheat.

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