Big thunderstorms moved in overnight at Rogue Farms in Tygh Valley, Oregon, forcing us to hold off harvesting our Risk™ malting barley.
Maybe we’ll be able to resume this afternoon, maybe tomorrow or the next day. It’s all up to Mother Nature.
We can’t harvest wet barley. Too much moisture in the grain when it’s stored in the silo can lead to all sorts of problems ranging from fungal disease to spontaneous combustion. You read that right. Wet grain can get so hot all on it’s own that it will suddenly burst into flames.
But that’s the least of our troubles this time of year.
Summer storms bring with them other problems that are far more serious than a rain delay. One of them is hail, which can wipe out an entire barley crop in just a matter of hours.
The other danger is lightning. With everything so dry out here, a spark in the right place can set off a huge wildfire whether it’s raining or not. One of the biggest wildfires in the west, called the Shaniko Butte fire, has burned up more than 42,000 acres of trees and shrub just a few miles south of here. The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for this part of Oregon through Wednesday morning, which means we have prime conditions for wildfires.
Like all farmers, we’re at the mercy of Mother Nature to help us bring in a good crop. Most of the time things work out fine. But when dark clouds form overhead at harvest time, they’re a reminder that greater and more powerful forces are in play.
And all we can do is wait it out.