Heavy Rain


Stewpot full of information

By Jim Suber

Once upon a time 40 years ago there was a boss who was half entertaining and half off putting and/or disconcerting.

In that business in those days it was not unusual to encounter the maladjusted, the warped, the physically maimed, the permanent social cripple, the drunk, the drug addict, the egomaniac, the bully, the predator—all before you left the office to go out on news assignments.

One trait annoying about him I am now afflicted with; that is, his mind seemed to jump tracks and trains so as to not make much sense. One never knew what might tumble out his mouth. I used to say to co-workers: the guy has a mind like a stewpot. You never know what’s going to roll up to the surface and then quietly sink away to be replaced by something totally different.

Today’s column is a stewpot mix. Some folks find those incomplete copouts and quick fixes replete with shallowness and laziness. So here we go.

•  The rain might have totaled .33 of an inch. My dentist said it doesn’t add up to much when you are so many…he paused to choke back the word ‘feet’ but was unable to make himself say ‘inches.’ So I said it, “seems like two feet behind.”

•  Nevertheless, we all expressed gratitude that it was that much more than we had before we got it.

•  The wheat acreage report came out with hard red winter apparently down some from the last time the government mentioned it. It was just over 29 million acres. Of course, even though Kansas farmers annually plant about 9 million or more and harvest a bit less due to abandonment and grazing out sometimes, Kansas is the giant among hard red wheat states. The reduced acreage is just sitting out there waiting for moisture and snow cover before it freezes out.

•  Old friend and classmate Vance Ehmke in western Kansas is one of the most accomplished wheat growers of his generation in Scott and Lane counties. He is like the world’s most interesting man who sells beer, except that Vance, who was once one of the most respected free lance agricultural writers in America, could say: “I don’t always blog, but when I do it really adds to what you know.”

•  Vance wrote how now wheat breeders are now looking for another trait for new wheat varieties to go along with all the usual ones like yield, resistances to diseases, and resistances to drought and bugs. The new one is ability to kill competition with a naturally exuded herbicide, a process called allelopathy. Some strains apparently have what it takes to kill weeds, while others don’t.

•  As most of us now know the synthetic herbicides have encountered a new generation of weeds that have developed resistance to the chemicals. And agricultural science is trying to counter the new weeds, which of course rob crops of water and nutrients, resulting in lower yields and lower quality, both inside the desired grain kernels crop and in the harvested loads which could well be contaminated by weed seeds and stem trash.

Jim Suber can be reached at

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