Changes in the Fields – Watching a Few of the 2016 Kansas Wheat Fields

Each season brings different things to the world around me that I like to make sure and photograph as they roll across the calendar each year. In the summer, that is going to mean wildflowers, the beautiful greens of the prairie in the early summer (assuming we have good spring rains!) and the wheat fields. The maturing wheat fields around Kansas are a part of one of the cycles of the world around me that I try to make sure I don’t miss. Of course I have lots of opportunities to visit the wheat fields, Kansas is after all known as the “wheat state” and has a long history with the crop; the first wheat crop was reportedly planted in 1839 in Kansas. Kansas typically produces  more wheat than any other state. Harvest this year was a good one, with record yields set in some places.

I’m not sure what it is about the wheat fields that is so mesmerizing to me. Maybe I’m just used to seeing the fields each summer (and have all my life). The fields are a familiar sight and I’m sure that familiarity is comfortable. It is impressive though to stand at the edge of a large wheat field and look out over all those plants swaying in the breeze. A wheat field on a day with a nice breeze can be hypnotic.

Normally I try to get out and photograph the wheat fields right before harvest. In the past, I focused on photographing the fields when they are fully mature and have that beautiful golden color (like all these photos from 2013).  This year, and the year before, I started photographing the fields well before harvest while they were still green. This year it was fun watching and photographing the wheat fields as they progressed from green to the beautiful golden color of the mature fields. The following images were made from April 30th to June 25th. It is fascinating how fast the wheat crop can mature and the fields change from greenish-gold to the beautiful golden fields.

Green Kansas wheat field
Just Getting Started – April 30th

(click on any photo to enlarge)

This field was photographed on April 30 while I was on my way to visit Pillsbury Crossing. You can see the heads that have formed on the wheat at this point. The field was a beautiful deep green and I really liked the combination of the green field and the blue and white colors in the sky. I had plans to photograph this field again when it was mature, but when I returned later in the summer it had already been harvested.

Kansas Wheat Field
Coming Along – May 7th

This field was photographed May 7th south of Abilene, Kansas. There were a lot of fields in this area, still green though in early May.

Maturing Wheat Field - June 6th
Maturing Wheat Field – June 6th

This next field was photographed about a month later than the previous one (on June 6th) near Manhattan, Kansas. At this point in time you can see that the field is maturing and starting to develop its golden color. There is a storm building in the distance and I liked the relationship between the field and the sign of weather. The wheat crop is heavily dependent on the weather; rain is needed, but at the right time. Rain near harvest can delay getting the crop in.

Mature Kansas wheat field
Ready – June 11th

This next photo was made on June 11th, again south of Abilene. This field has the beautiful golden color of mature wheat. This field was harvested not long after this photo was made. It is really amazing how fast the wheat matures depending on the weather.

Kansas Wheat Field

Harvested Soon – June 18th

By the middle of June many of the fields around that I had been photographing were already harvested. I was happy to find this field on June 18th  north of Waterville, Kansas. Some interesting clouds to photograph with the fields on this particular day as well.

Kansas Wheat Field
Ready – June 25th

My final wheat photos for 2016 were made on June 25th around Riley, Kansas. By this time harvest was going on or completed already across much of the state. The wheat in the photo above seemed to me like it was ready to be harvested. The heads of wheat drooping over seemed a bit tired…the plants had done their duty and got the grain ready, now it was time to be harvested.

Dad
Dad

A few of the trips to the wheat fields I made with my wife and our dogs which are always fun outings. I also made it out with my Dad to photograph some wheat fields. I always enjoy going out “shooting” with my Dad, but when we photograph the fields around us it is especially rewarding. My Dad grew up farming and ranching and worked in agriculture most of his life. I enjoy watching him interact with the fields in a different way and seeing how he captures views of agriculture now with a camera.

I’m sure next year I’ll be out with my camera again as the wheat fields develop and ripen. If you want to see how and where harvest is progressing across the state, check out the Kansas Wheat Harvest page. This website posts daily updates of harvest and a map of where harvest reports are coming in from. It is interesting to watch how harvest moves across the state.

As always, thanks for stopping by. If you would like to see more of my photos of agriculture, please visit my “Beauty in Agriculture” gallery. You can also sign up for email list to be notified of new blog posts, print sales, show announcements and class notifications.

Have a good one!

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