COULEE CITY — “It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do ever since I was a little kid,” said Jeremy Roberts, a wheat farmer, despite the struggles with inflation and droughts.
The yearly harvest of the soft white wheat — what goes into bread, cakes, crackers and cookies — his family grows began Friday and will continue for the next couple of weeks , Roberts said.
Farming has been in the family blood since they immigrated from Denmark, running this farm, located south of Highway 2 and southwest of Coulee City, for the last 100 years or so, Roberts said.
“I like taking care of the land,” he said. “I love watching the crops grow. And I like the whole process of planting the harvest. All of that is always just been an interest to me.”
Roberts is secretive about the acreage of the farm, saying he’d rather keep that information private but that it was in the thousands range.
He said hopes to eventually pass the farm on to his two sons, who already help him each harvest along with his father who owns the farm, and other close family members.
But farming greatly relies on Mother Nature for good yields, and things have not been looking good since last year.
The entire state experienced extreme temperatures across Eastern Washington last year, resulting in one of their worst harvests, Roberts said. Even their yield this year was impacted because of the dry fall weather while they seeded this year’s harvest.
And the unexpected rainfall in June put their operation behind schedule by about two weeks including the planting of next year’s crop. Planting the crop later than usual cuts into which cuts into the amount of moisture available as the area is all dryland, he said.
The rising cost of fuel is also a new challenge this year besides the weather, according to Roberts.
They run about three tractors a day during harvest, each burning about 100 gallons a day of diesel gas. The state’s average price of diesel as of Monday is about $6 compared to $3.70 a year ago, according to the AAA Gas Prices website.
It has more than doubled their costs, Roberts said. To counter, they’ve cut back on how much fertilizer they apply.
“But the price that we still get for our wheat is still about the same that we’ve always got,” he said. “The price always goes up, but we don’t ever really make any more money. It’s just the world we live in.”
Despite the unexpected challenges from nature and the economy, Roberts said he still thinks he can continue farming for many years to come.
“As long as it can support me, I’ll keep doing it,” he said. “I made it this long.” After all, his oldest son, 18, has already expressed his interest in continuing in his father’s footsteps.
Discuss the news on NABUR, a place to have local conversations The Neighborhood Alliance for Better Understanding and Respect ✔ A site just for our local community ✔ Focused on facts, not misinformation ✔ Free for everyone