Cooperative Observer for the National Weather Service showcases an Old Fashioned Wheat Harvest in Alton, KS

 

The National Weather Service (NWS) has a tremendous amount of respect and pride for their Cooperative Observers (COOPs). Without these data from the COOPs, we would lack precious climate information and everyday weather data regarding temperature & precipitation values. The information we collect is used at local news stations, for the general public, students of all ages and individuals doing research. It goes without saying, but climate interest has grown tremendously over the last several years, and the individuals in the COOP program have shown dedication and integrity towards helping the NWS fulfill its commitment towards our endeavor in answering questions related to climate. Within the COOP program comes responsibilities, including, but not limited to, tracking data, properly disseminating these data, and maintaining sites where individuals like, Clifford Roach, take daily temperature readings and precipitation amounts from equipment distributed by the NWS. Site visits are done throughout the year for all of our COOP sites to make sure the equipment is properly installed and operating correctly. One of the benefits to going out to these sites is learning more about the people who run the equipment. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet the people who provide many data for us at the NWS. Meteorologists Joseph Guerrero and Shawn Rossi set out to meet the man behind the scenes collecting data. It was especially great to meet Clifford at his farm in Alton, Kansas during an annual event called, “Old Fashioned Wheat Harvest” on Saturday, July 9th, which marked the 16th annual event. At the event, Clifford, his four sons, and daughter catered to the public to showcase how wheat farming was done in the past. They used old fashioned techniques which included mules, old combines and old tractors. The men in the Roach family went out in the old combines and harvested what is now 5 acres of wheat—approximately 450 acres was the peak before Clifford retired. After harvesting, Clifford anticipated about 20 bushels of wheat per acre; however, on a good year (e.g. without hail damage) one could get about 60 bushels of wheat per acre. Unfortunately, thunderstorms rumbled through the Alton area on June 1st which caused damage to the Roach farm, which yielded roughly 20 bushels per acre from this harvest event. 

 

Spectators at the Old Fashioned Wheat Harvest at Clifford Roach's Farm on July 9, 2011. Clifford Roach and daugher-in-law Deanna Roach at teh Old fashioned Wheat Harvest July 9, 2011. Clifford Roach and his four sons to his left(Randy, Orvan, Mark and Stan) at the Old Fashioned Wheat Harvest July 9th, 2011.
Spectators at the Old Fashioned Wheat Harvest at Clifford Roach's Farm on July 9, 2011. Clifford Roach and his daughter-in-law, Deanna Roach, at the Old Fashioned Wheat Harvest. July 9, 2011. Clifford Roach and his four sons to his left (from left to right: Randy, Orvan, Mark and Stan) at the Old Fashioned Wheat Harvest. July 9th, 2011.

 

What started as a family event in 1996 to bring the kids and relatives together quickly turned out to become an annual event, not only for the Roach family, but for all the people around Osborne County in north central Kansas sometime around the year 2000. People in the area started driving by the family farm and curiosity led onlookers to stop and watch what exactly was going on with the old farm equipment. It soon became a family event for people all over the local area to enjoy, but word quickly got around and people from other states started coming to the event as well. Three states were accounted for at the Roach family farm this year, including Nebraska, Kansas and Illinois. The event attracted over 150 people. Clifford’s daughter-in-law, Deanna Roach, had a sign-in sheet for those people who wanted to log their attendance at the event—we found it interesting to see who joined in on the festivities and the distance they traveled to enjoy this event.  

 

Wheat field destroyed after the June 1st 2011 hail storm in Alton, Kansas. Clifford Roach and daugher-in-law Deanna Roach at teh Old fashioned Wheat Harvest July 9, 2011. Clifford Roach and his four sons to his left(Randy, Orvan, Mark and Stan) at the Old Fashioned Wheat Harvest July 9th, 2011.

 Wheat field destroyed after the June 1st 2011 hail storm in Alton, Kansas.

A sign located on one of Cliffords barns (one of many) which fits his character extremely well. July 9th, 2011 Harvesting the wheat from the field using a couple of old combine's. July 9th, 2011.

 

Anybody can go see these old combines, tractors, etc. standing pretty in a museum, yet it’s not often to see old pieces of farm equipment actually in work harvesting these days. Equally as impressive as the old farm equipment is the amount of people who came out to watch the equipment in action and take part in a little bit of history. Clifford is 89 years old, but he still finds time as a retired farmer to deliver valuable information to the NWS through the COOP program and to get out in the fields to play with his tractors. Four different generations of the Roach family were represented at this year's event. Some of Clifford's family members present at this years festivities were his four sons, one daughter, five grandchildren and seven of his great grandchildren.  

 

"I didn't expect to live this long, but I'm not going to complain."

Mr. Roach on the Tractor

 

Thank you, Clifford, for putting on a great show during the Old Fashioned Wheat Harvest, and helping us folks at the NWS with climate information for Alton, Kansas!

 

 


 

July 23rd 2011

Written by, Joseph Guerrero (Meteorologist)

National Weather Service, Hastings, Nebraska

 

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