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Adopt A Wheat Field Home Page
June 9

photo 126

I thought we should look at our field today. So, this is what it looked like at high noon. It has been hot and windy and the heads are bleached. There is no green in any stems or heads. Do you think this wheat crop is using any water now? Not a chance! Everything is drying down and we are waiting for the grain moisture to get low enough so we can combine (harvest) the field. Have you wondered when the wheat plant uses the most moisture and if a drought occurred when would it cause the most damage? If so, click here.

photo 127

I think we should check the grain the way farmers do to determine if it is dry enough to harvest. Okay, first you select a wheat head (like my friend and colleague, Dr. Gerard Kluitenburg is doing).

photo 128

Next, you smash the head into the palm of your hand. We’re trying to remove the kernels from the chaff, just like a combine (A machine that harvests and threshes the grain.) would do. After you smash and twist the head in your palm you will have separated kernels and a lot of chaff, as you can see here.

photo 129

Next, gently blow the chaff out of your hand and you will have clean grain remaining in your hand. (It was so windy today that the wind blew the chaff away before we had to.) Now, put a kernel into your mouth and bite it. If the kernel splits or cracks, that indicates the moisture level in the kernel is low enough that the field can be harvested. If the kernel doesn’t break, but instead, it just smashes flat, then the moisture level is still too high for harvest.

You need to repeat this practice on several heads across the field to get a better idea of the grain moisture. In our field, the moisture is low enough that it could be harvested, but down the hill in the low areas the grain is not quite dry enough.

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