Growing Wheat in Kansas
Most of the wheat grown in Kansas is winter wheat. Winter wheat is planted in the fall. After it frosts in the fall, the wheat plants stop growing for the winter. In the spring, the wheat plants grow quickly. In Kansas, in early summer, the green wheat plants gradually start changing color and by harvest, the plants will be a rich golden color.
When it gets close to harvest, Kansas wheat farmers are very anxious about the wheat crop. A Kansas wheat farmer receives his or her pay for a year's work at harvest.
Everything has to be just right to be able to cut the wheat. The wheat kernels themselves must be dry or they might spoil once they get inside storage bins. The stalks (stems of the wheat plants) must be dry so that they can be cut easily and won't clump together inside the combine. If the wheat is ready to cut (ripe) and the wind blows too hard, the wheat kernels may fall onto the ground. If it rains, the stalks and kernels will have to dry out again before harvest can start. Sometimes, the wheat is ready to cut but the fields are so wet that the combines will get stuck if they try to cut the wheat, so the farmers have to wait for the ground to dry out!
Growing wheat in Kansas really is a challenge!
For more information, check out How Wheat Grows: Spring to Harvest. Weekly photos and measurements show just how quickly Kansas wheat grows in the spring, how the color changes from green to gold, and how the wheat is harvested.