While much of the growth in Kansas in recent years has been in urban or suburban areas, there’s no question that our state continues to boast a robust agricultural sector. Kansas farms produce wheat for the nation and the world — and a lot of it, besides.
So in the midst of these pandemic times, when every news headline carries an aura of dread about it, we were delighted to see that the state’s wheat crop appears to be doing well.
According to Alice Mannette, of The Hutchinson News: "The winter wheat condition in Kansas is rated at more than 75% fair to excellent, with coloring for the week ending June 21 at 97%. This is ahead of last year’s 88%. With one quarter of the wheat harvested, this year is off to a great start."
Forecasts for wheat in production are up a bit from May, Manette writes, but ongoing drought conditions may prevent considerable improvement in yields.
Nevertheless, the news appears promising. And for farmers who have been continually buffeted by decisions in Washington, D.C., they had nothing to do with, that must come as at least a mild comfort.
And with businesses from coast to coast figuring out how to make ends meet while social distancing, the farming lifestyle itself must come as a reassurance. Few people can more naturally social distance — and for extended periods — than our farmers.
But one good harvest, one promising season, doesn’t mean prosperity.
Kansas for years has watched its rural communities empty out and wither, watched as individual farmers made way for conglomerates. The role of technology has played a role, certainly, with fewer people needed to tend more land.
There’s a potential way forward, however. This recent turmoil has shown Americans how precarious the urban way of life can be. Densely populated cities, with residents crammed into towering apartment blocks, no longer seem quite as appealing as they once did — if they were ever that appealing to begin with.
Rural life, country living, shows us all another way. It may be too great a stretch to imagine that Manhattan (New York’s Manhattan, that is) empties out with new wheat farmers. But perhaps a handful of fresh graduates from the Kansas Manhattan will rethink their journeys in life.
Farming has its challenges. But it’s intrinsic to this state and its people. Let’s hope that solid wheat harvests aren’t the only good news for agriculture in the years to come.