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Barley Harvest Continues Despite Wildfires

It was quite the weekend at our barley farm in Tygh Valley, Oregon.


We were just getting started with the harvest of our Dare™ spring malting barley last Friday when, all of a sudden, some thunderstorms moved in and drove us off the field.

Nothing unusual about that this time of year. But just north of here, a more serious problem popped up that we didn’t see coming.

Here’s a photo from the Oregon Department of Forestry of the Government Flats Complex Fire up by The Dalles. It started with a lightning strike about the same time as the thunderstorms hit the farm. There are 6400 acres burning as of Tuesday morning.

Photo by Chris Friend, ODF.
Photo by Chris Friend, ODF.

As you can see the fire was kicking up a lot of smoke. And thanks to the westerlies that come through the Gorge during the summer, the smoke came our way, hanging over the barley farm like a dark cloud on Saturday and Sunday.

Because the smoke – and that the barley was still too wet to harvest – we decided to take a break. By Monday, everything was back to normal and we got back to work.

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Looking at the forecast, we should be able to wrap up the Dare™ malting barley harvest by the end of the week. The condition of the grain looks great. Lots of plump, dry kernels.

Seeing the smoke from a wildfire just 18 miles away is a reminder of the risks we take being farmers. That could be our farm going up in flames. Instead of rain, that thunderstorm could have unloaded hail on us, stripping the kernels off the stalks and leaving us with one big soggy, worthless mess.

Yes, we could just buy malting barley off stores shelves like everyone else. It would be safe. But it would hardly be revolutionary.