The past few weeks have been full of surprises: weather and big decisions. You know Newton’s theory “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” applies to agriculture too. This wheat crop has seen lots of different stages. From a slow start due to drought, through the winter months and some late winter rains, then warmer weather brought the wheat out of dormancy and it started looking exceptional. But then come the lemons, or better yet, the freezes and harsh conditions.
When wheat advances to the boot stage (the stage before the seed heads fill with grain), it is a critical part of the maturing of the plant. At this stage, wheat can only stand freezing temperatures of 28°F for up to 2 hours without having at least partial damage to the wheat. Hobart, OK, saw temperatures drop to 27°F twice in the two weeks. And better yet we saw 16°F in late March. It wasn’t in the boot yet, but still the crop was advanced enough to sustain damage from the cold weather. Although the more recent temperature drops have been preceded by moisture pushing the warm air from the ground, hopefully giving a little protection. In addition, the temperature is taken at 5 feet above the soil level. When you consider that information, and the possibility of warm air from the ground, we were perhaps spared a lot of damage from that area of insulation. Time will tell whether we received a significant damage or only partial. Also, with the added moisture, it makes rust (a disease in wheat) a much bigger factor when considering a million-dollar crop. Do we need to spray to fight against the disease or has the freeze already committed all the damage for us? Those answers will be answered in God’s timing. In fact, the Daily Oklahoman came out and wanted to do an article about the wheat freeze. It came out on Sunday the 21 in the business section. As I cut open the stem of the wheat plant to find the head, I was amazingly surprised at the length of head that is there. We are looking at a good crop if the good Lord is willing. Science will never be able to explain the mercies of His grace.
In the midst of all these decisions, Oklahoma Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers hosted its annual conference in Yukon, OK, April 4-7. We visited Producers Cooperative Oil Mill. They process canola and cottonseed oil. We learned about the entire process from seed to oil. Among many interesting facts, we learned that when orange juice companies want to add pulp to their juice, they use the fibers processed from the cotton seed to “bulk” it up. We also were privileged to visit Express Ranches’ cattle operation and their Clydesdale barn. What an operation! We finished our tours at Devon Tower. The building is such a piece of artwork! The views are breathtaking! Look for YF&R at the state FFA convention and the OFB Legal Foundation’s Golf Tournament on May 3.
On this Earth Day, celebrate ways we can be good stewards of what the Creator has given us. Every farmer and rancher around the world were the very first environmentalists because by protecting the environment it sustains our way of life. Living off the land and what He gives us is the best way of life for our family.
I believe Martin Williams’ Facebook status said it best: “When life gives you lemons make wheat hay and plant milo!”