Ag History Lesson & Father's Day

Marla remembers dear old Dad!

Alec Horton, LCS intern, and HRWW Breeder Marla Barnett threshing wheat with the "Vogel"

Wheat harvest in south central Kansas usually starts around Father's Day. This is very appropriate as most everyone's dad (in Kansas, anyway) is involved in wheat harvest. It seems fitting to be with your dad harvesting wheat on "his" day.

Thinking about my own dad and wheat harvest is a good story. You see, as a young boy, he not so fondly remembers cutting and threshing wheat. He has regaled me with stories of the hot itchy work of feeding the thresher with a pitchfork. This was before modern combines were used, back when wheat was reaped with a reaper or shocked into shocks and then threshed using a stand-alone threshing machine.

Have you ever wondered why a combine is called a combine? Well, it's because it combines the two jobs of reaping wheat and threshing wheat. And believe me, it's a great modern luxury to have this wonderful machine.

In plant breeding, my team and I use two separate reaping and threshing machines on occasion, mainly for harvesting individual rows of early generation genetic material. The threshing machine is named the "Vogel" and the reaper has been given the name "Suzy." More on Suzy at another time. The "Vogel" is named after Orville Vogel, a wheat breeder who designed the first machine of this type for plant breeders.

We use the "Vogel" just like our fathers and grandfathers before us used the large stationary threshing machines of yesteryear. We are doing the same job. They would have had pitchforks. We have OSHA.

Until next time -