#WheatHarvest16: What Is a Bushel?

Most wheat harvests take about a week. It’s a long, intense week that starts mid-morning and runs well past sundown for five to six days in a row, but it doesn’t stop, take breaks or run on for weeks at a time.  But #WheatHarvest16 has been a very different type of harvest. This year the combines have stopped and started more times than I can count. We’ve endured at least three different rain delays and have been slowed by mud spots and wet wheat. Wanting to get the grain in the bins, anytime the sun is shining my farmer is in the combine, finding a dry field to cut.

Sunrise over wheat

Wheat prices are also dismal this year. Wheat prices are averaging almost $2.00 less per bushel this year when compared to 2015 prices. For an average field of 80 acres, that’s averaging 65 bushel an acre (that’s being very conservative) that comes up to $10,400 less in revenue from the sale of the grain when compared to a year ago. As wheat harvest trudges on, wheat prices continue to drop. Not good news for farmers who use the payout from wheat harvest to pay land notes, purchase seed for the next crop or purchase new equipment. The only bright spot is the record-breaking yields, some farmers reporting harvest 100 bushels an acre. While everyone isn’t seeing triple-digit wheat, nearly everyone is cutting high-yield fields.

What is a bushel of wheat?

A bushel of wheat is the way in which we measure the amount of wheat in a field. The term comes from the days when wheat and other crops were harvested by hand and a bushel was the amount one could fit into a bushel basket. We still use the term today but the measurement of a bushel is much different.

A bushel of wheat weighs approximately 60 lbs. So when a truck loaded with wheat arrives at the elevator, it is weighed on large, in-ground scales. The wheat is then dumped into the storage facility and the truck is weighed again – this time without the grain. The difference in the two weights is the assumed weight of the grain. That total is divided by 60 to determine the number of bushels dumped.

Farmers can calculated the total yield – and average, per-acre yield – of a field by adding up the weight of the wheat dumped from that field. As trucks leave the coop facilities they are given tickets with the time and total pounds dumped, those tickets allow the farmer to both remember and later formally record the total pounds of wheat delivered to the elevators.

Learn more fun wheat facts at: http://www.wheatworld.org/wheat-info/fast-facts/

The guys were in the field all day Saturday (no, farmers do not take weekends off) and were ready to start cutting after church Sunday. But the rain moved through, again. By mid-afternoon Monday things were dry enough to start up again. Everyone is hoping that this is the last week for #WheatHarvest16 – but with more rain in the forecast, this may carry into yet another week. Stay tuned!

Saturday Menu

Lunch: Beef soft tacos; Rice; Chocolate chip cookies

Supper: Cheeseburger sliders; French fries; Peanut butter cookies

Monday Menu

Lunch: Ham and cheese pockets; Chips; Cookies

Supper: Roast beef sandwiches on pretzel buns; Creamed corn; Fruit tarts


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