The Eastern Colorado Wheat Farmer
Burlington, CO – June 6, 2016 – This year will be a wheat year, but it is also a year of wheat struggles. I have been in wheat fields from southeastern Colorado near Springfield to the northeast corner near Julesburg. I have scouted wheat fields that could have record high bushels to fields farmers are praying will make it to harvest. I have visited with farmers who are worried about the numerous diseases and viruses popping up all over and farmers hoping the weather will cooperate and not bring hail to damage the crops. Don’t worry, the Eastern Colorado Wheat Farmer is up for all the challenges being thrown from all directions.
From planting to harvest, there are many variables wheat producers have to deal with: winter kill, frost damage, too much rain, too little rain, hail, tornados, diseases, viruses, weed infestations, insects, nutrient deficiencies and mechanical damage. From the south to the north, all of these variables have been observed. In the southern region, wheat fields have been found with Wheat Streak Mosaic, Stripe Rust, Barley Yellow Dwarf, root rot, and several other diseases and viruses. Some farmers were able to spray fields in time to protect their crop, while some have missed the window to help their field survive. In these areas, farmers are optimistic to have wheat delivered to the elevator because some may have a crop every three years. In Haswell, some farmers are struggling to produce a good stand with the minimal amount of precipitation that has fallen, while others to the north have received so much rain, wheat is falling over and lodging. In the northern region, many acres have been lost from strong stands of noxious cheat grass, hammered hard by hail pummeling the wheat to the ground and tornadoes going through fields ruining thousands of acres which will not get to harvest and cost farmers thousands of dollars.
While scouting fields with CSU Golden Plains Area Agronomy Agent, Ron Meyer, I have heard many farmers say that this country is either feast or famine or a make or break situation. The typical person may not say this is very optimistic of the farmer. Will Rogers, an American Cowboy from Oklahoma during the time of the Dust Bowl and Depression said “The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.” A farmer knows they can only do so much and then it is in the hands of Mother Nature.
With all of these struggles, you may ask why a farmer doesn’t throw in the towel and stop farming and do something else that could cause less stress. The answer is: This is their livelihood. Farming takes a special kind of person. Patience, knowledge, optimism, hard work, dedication, and faith are only a few of the characteristics of the Eastern Colorado Wheat Farmer. Farmers are spraying for diseases, checking the fields daily, calling in experts for advice, crunching the numbers, and above all, praying for everything to go smooth from here on out. These farmers are making their comeback story from a not so typical wheat year to have a record wheat year. To our Eastern Colorado Wheat Farmers, may your optimism outweigh the struggles to help you have a successful harvest. God Bless!