I grew up on a wheat farm in between Kennebec and Presho, South Dakota. With that in mind, this time of year holds a special place in my heart. So much of what my father accomplished had to do with a simple crop. Winter Wheat.

If you rolled back time to a1974 or 1975, you could expect the custom harvesters, or wheat whackers as we used to call them, parading into town. I could write an entire story about experiences when them, but we'll hold that for later. They would line up, and generally 'hold up' traffic for miles as they paraded up and down the highways, on their way to find fields of gold to harvest for local farmers.

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Wheat harvest in South Dakota generally falls around the dates of July 4th to July 20th. It varies year to year with moisture conditions and other factors. But it always hits about now. I just talked with one of my brothers who farms 'out west' and he said, we're about ready to roll. The recent rain shower held things up a bit, but we'll be going sometime this week.

Farmers in the central part of the state have further diversified since I was growing up. What used to be Wheat, Milo then summer fallow has morphed into Corn, Beans, Wheat, Milo and more.

It's a fun time of year. Winter wheat is a fascinating crop. Farmers plant the seed in late fall, watch it come up, (hopefully) get green and then go dormant for the winter. Farmers hope for a little snow cover to prevent winter kill during the cold weather months of January and February.

Winter Wheat is one of the most beautiful crops to watch as you drive by your fields every day too. On the way home from town you might mention how good, or how poor a particular field looked. I did learn one thing, though. Many times it didn't matter much how it looked, it just mattered how it yielded.

Having grown up on a winter wheat farm, I hold good thoughts for farmers like my brothers in central South Dakota. And for Brady and Dan Soulek, pictured above, looking over a beautiful crop near Pickstown, South Dakota.

The work has been done, now, God willing, if the weather holds and the bad storms stay away, the wheat will once again be rolling, either to the local elevators or to farmers' bins.

Here's to a safe and prosperous winter wheat harvest for all the farmers and producers around South Dakota and the Midwest.

Do you have a favorite part about growing up in the Midwest? If you do, I'd love to hear from you. You can email me anytime. jdcollins@kikn.com

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Stacker used data from the 2020 County Health Rankings to rank every state's average life expectancy from lowest to highest. The 2020 County Health Rankings values were calculated using mortality counts from the 2016-2018 National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey and America's Health Rankings Senior Report 2019 data were also used to provide demographics on the senior population of each state and the state's rank on senior health care, respectively.

Read on to learn the average life expectancy in each state.

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