Wheat harvest began on the family farm today. We are luckier than many Oklahoma wheat farmers; it has been dry this year, but not as dry as it’s been further north, west and south. We’ll have a crop. Maybe not a great crop, but a crop.
The hard red winter wheat grown in Oklahoma and the rest of the southern plains is descended from a tough strain, sometimes called Turkey red, brought to this country in the mid-19th century by Mennonite immigrants from the Crimea. According to tradition, the first kernels were smuggled into the United States inside two little girls’ dolls. From those two dolls, the story goes, came America’s amber waves of grain.
Hard red winter wheat is planted in the fall and used for grazing during the winter and early spring. Or was, before the prolonged drought and crop failures of recent years played havoc with the cattle business. The wheat grown in Oklahoma is used mostly for bread and baking.
Further north, wheat is planted in the spring and harvested in the fall, and generally used for pastas.
So there you have it. Nothing too exciting. But for the next several weeks farmers in the western half of the state, those lucky enough to have crop, will be working day and night to bring in their crops of what and barley so the rest of us can east toast every morning.