Crop Portraits: Georgia Winter Wheat
Poultry, cotton, peaches, peanuts: These are the quintessential crops of Georgia agriculture. Not wheat. Certainly not organic red hard winter wheat.
Farmers do grow wheat in Georgia. Very little of it is what we would call culinary wheat, the stuff small-scale bakers use for whole wheat loaves. The bulk of the local harvest goes to feed mills.
Joining a national trend in building regional grain economies, Dayspring Farms in Madison County took some risks in the last few years by investing in red winter wheat. The hope was that small bakeries and craft breweries would look locally when sourcing grain. It's paying off. Over the last year, I spent a number of days at Dayspring, getting to know the family and documenting their harvest. Although a panoply of crops are raised on the farm, I focused on wheat. The result of all that time was a story called "The Novice Farmer," published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last August.
Wheat is one of those iconic crops, as Americana as it gets. Think Terrence Malick. Think breadbasket. Photographing wheat came easily. The heat of late summer, when I took most of these pictures, colored the soon-to-be-harvested crop in golden tones. It's a beautiful but brittle sheen, a cache of edible bullion that cracks and crumbles as a thresher rolls over to harvest.