Every year, as June rolls into July, excitement starts to build across Eastern Washington for thousands of wheat farmers and their families who are stewards of more than 2 million acres of land. Nearly all of Washington’s wheat farms are family owned and operated, and they are often passed down from generation to generation with histories that go back more than 100 years. Harvest is a time when far-flung family members come home to help bring in the grain, and it’s not unusual to see three generations working side by side.
In a typical year, winter wheat harvest usually begins in July in Benton and Franklin counties and moves north. Spring wheat harvest typically begins three to four weeks later. This year, however, was a little different. Because of cool, wet weather that stretched into June, harvest was a couple of weeks late, but yields were generally higher than average, and the quality was good. That good news was offset by supply chain issues and high fuel costs. Many farmers reported difficulties in getting replacement parts, such as tires.
For the 2022 harvest, Wheat Life staff spent time at four farms in Benton, Grant, Lincoln and Whitman counties, documenting a typical harvest day. The farmers that are featured are proud of their heritage and are invested in helping the next generation (and often the one after that) succeed.