In the fall, when many of us think of the land going dormant, millions of acres are planted in winter wheat by farmers. Winter wheat is planted in the fall because it requires an extended period of very cool temperatures to come to flower and provide a good result. It is generally harvested in the late spring or early summer.
For those of us who don’t farm, the complexity of managing crops and plantings is almost a complete mystery. But it’s a good thing that someone knows how to turn a fallow field into a crop like winter wheat, or we would all be starving.
I’m not a farmer, but the way I understand it is that the winter wheat is planted sometime in the autumn (the timing matters). It sprouts before the first freeze, and then becomes dormant until the spring. Or at least that is what it looks like. If it gets enough cool weather and adequate rainfall, it will come back to life in the spring as a cash crop—and can be harvested in time for another short season crop to grow in the same soil, providing two crops a year.
Looking out the window at the snow last week, I thought about the winter wheat crop in places like Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, the Dakotas, and Minnesota. I wondered how the weather this year, with its wild swings back and forth in moisture and temperature, had impacted the development of the crop.
Yesterday the USDA announced that nationwide 61 percent of the wheat crop is good, 32 percent is fair, and only 1 percent is verified as poor. Pretty good news for farmers—as well as for the millions of people those crops will feed.
Like I said, I’m not a farmer. But I understand the importance of good planning, good management of resources, patience, and perseverance. As a farmer hopes for enough cool days and adequate rainfall, I know the role that hope plays in keeping us focused on the task before us—even when some of the factors that determine success are outside of our control.
What are you farming this season? What is your “winter wheat” crop? Where are you at in your management plan of planning, planting, waiting, hoping, and harvesting?
I’m thankful for people who know how to farm, and do it effectively. Perhaps we can take a lesson here and see that, like a crop of winter wheat, the work we do and the way we manage our own set of complexities and challenges will also yield good results. Farmers feed; we heal. I’m thankful for both.