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Monday, July 15, 2013

Wheat Harvest in Kansas

My brother harvested his first wheat crop this summer and finished up right before the 4th of July. It wasn't the first crop on our family's farm, he is now the 4th generation of farmers in the family!

This year was the first year we had our own combine and harvested our own crop. We normally hire what is referred to as a custom grain harvesting crew. They travel from the Southern US to the Northern US following the ripening of the wheat crop to harvest wheat for farmers at a set fee. Farmers call these people, "Custom Cutters." Farmers often hire custom cutters because you don't have to invest in all of the harvest equipment and incur the repair costs that it requires to maintain all of the machinery needed for harvest.

Even though it is still extremely dry in Southwest Kansas, the wheat was better than we had expected. We got a few late freezes in April and May that really set back the wheat and made my dad and brother nervous about the yields.  It was no bumper crop, but it just wasn't as terrible as they had expected.

Want to learn more about harvest? Check out this video from the Peterson Farm Bros!

Want to learn even more about harvest? I thought of some of the vocabulary that we use on the farm and you might find it useful to learn more about these words.

  • Yield: this is a term we use to describe how much of a crop we harvest per acre of the crop planted. We usually talk about yield using bushels and acres. Some other countries use tons per hectares. 
  • Combine: a piece of machinery specifically used for harvesting grain. It operates to reap, thresh and winnow the plants in order to gather just the grain for transport to the nearest grain elevator, barge or train. Crops that are harvested with a combine are wheat, oats, rye, barley, corn, soybeans and flax.
  • Bushel: a bushel is a volume measurement used by farmers to describe an amount of grain. It is equal to 1.244 cubic feet or 32 quarts. 
  • Test weight: this is a measure that farmers will use a lot in conversation. It is the measure of the weight of grain in pounds per volume in bushels. Wheat has a standard weight at a specific moisture content and it is 60 pounds per bushel at 13.5% moisture. 
Sometimes we forget that, in agriculture, we have our own lingo. I like to post about that lingo so that you can get a better understanding of what it is we do on a family farm.  Heck, there are even multiple words that all mean "Harvest" and are used with different crops. Many of these terms are regional, but it's interesting to hear people talk about how they all harvest their crops.

Synonyms for Harvest: 
Corn: shell, pick, shuck
Beans: run, cut
Wheat: cut, thresh
Cotton: pick, strip
Silage or Hay: lay down, cut, chop




Friday, July 12, 2013

Life of a Farmer: June

Here is the June edition, if you have been following our series of the Peterson Farm Brother's videos depicting the daily life of a farmer throughout the calendar year.




Thursday, July 11, 2013

Paragliding Photographer Punished for Picturing Private Property

I'd like to think my high school English teacher would be quite proud of that alliteration I just created.

Have you heard about George Steinmetz?

He's a freelance photographer, working for National Geographic at the time, who recently sent to the slammer in Garden City, Kansas. The paragliding photographer and his instructor were photographing a Garden City feedyard when they were arrested for trespassing on private property. The Finney County District Attorney's office released this statement:

"Much discussion has ensued surrounding the arrest of Mr. Steinmetz and his employee regarding the right to air space and to take photographs. The charges in no way are related to those two issues and focus on the landowners right to privacy and control over their property."

You can find the story ran today by the Huffington Post here.

I'd like to get your thoughts on this predicament the photographer finds himself in. I personally think that farmers, ranchers, researchers and the like have a certain amount of protection under the law to prevent trespassers like Mr. Steinmetz. This protection is not because there's something going on that they want to hide, but because they own the property and deserve the privacy. Go visit a feedyard, on foot, and they'll check you in the front office as a visitor and give a tour. If you are interested in visiting a feedyard, comment below and I can put you in touch with one. I conducted my masters research at 56 Kansas feedyards. We were assessing how cattle are housed and handled; and the feedyards performed exceptionally! I wasn't surprised, though, because I met the managers and employees while assessing the yards - they were born to work with cattle and have dedicated their lives to perfecting the art of feeding cattle for human consumption of a nutrient-dense protein.

Enjoy more Beef!



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