One of America’s status symbols is a home with a beautiful bluegrass lawn. It is a necessity for children and pets in town. Many people do not realize the steps it takes to produce the seed for this beautiful lawn. The farmer must first have the land available, decide a year in advance if bluegrass seed is needed by the consumer, is it profitable for him to grow and will it fit into his crop rotation schedule. Only select growers are given contracts to grow bluegrass seed in Grant County. The USDA writes up the BMP (Best Management Practices) rules the grower must obey and the Department of Ecology issues burn permits based on a daily scientifically researched national weather forecast.
Monday’s paper had a picture of a “controlled burn” being conducted and with all the recent reports of fires all over the Pacific Northwest and burn bans it left the reader with more questions than answers. The Washington State Department of Ecology controls the date and time of controlled burns. The farmer calls the DOE every morning to see if it is a burn day. Sometimes the farmer must wait two to three weeks for an okay and thus misses the best window of opportunity for planting his crop resulting in lower yields. The atmospheric winds are measured at different levels and when all winds are favorable the farmer is allowed to burn his field. This farmer was allowed a five-hour window to burn his field.
The controlled burn south of Moses Lake on Friday, Aug. 3 lasted only 90 minutes. All precautions were taken to ensure a safe burn such as constructing fire guards in the field, notifying the fire department and nearby neighbors as well as having a water source following the person setting the fire, an irrigation system going and applying water, as well as a tractor and disc unit with operator on site if needed. Burning the wheat stubble is a vital requirement for a profitable yield because it destroys undesirable weeds and diseases. Not burning wheat stubble results in very low yields, lower seed germination numbers and a loss for the farmer. It’s not easy being a farmer today especially concerning the tariffs and political whims of the country.
P.S. I was the farmer setting the fire in the picture.