|Rolling hills and patchwork farm fields|
This past week I visited the farmers who live and farm in the Palouse Region of Eastern Washington state. This area comprises roughly in the south-east portion of the state, and goes into the panhandle of Idaho. It is very rich agriculturally, with silty soils and abundant rains, which come during the spring and early summer.
|Winter wheat beginning to turn from green to gold.|
|See how the cab is level, and the header follows the contour of the land?|
This is a self leveling combine. Pretty helpful.
The farmland here is like none other. Precipitation ranges from 15" to 22" annually, so farmers have no need to irrigate. The top soil is very deep, ranging from 3' and deeper throughout the Palouse. Crops are predominantly wheat, barley, dry peas, lentils and garbanzos, with some oats, flax and canola. Whitman County, in the heart of the Palouse, is the largest grower of Soft White Wheat in the United States.
The region was settled in the late 1800's by German, Irish and Russian immigrants - you'll hear their surnames all over the Palouse. Most farms are still being worked by original families - with 4th and 5th generation now tilling the land that their ancestors homesteaded.
|Fields with dry peas growing in the foreground|
After harvest, farmers plant their fall crop of winter wheat and in some cases, dry winter peas. Also, they prepare fields which will be planted in the spring. They spray weed killer and incorporate fertilizer in the soil, so that it can work over the winter. Usually they are done with all their fall work by mid to late October.
|Dry peas growing.|