HARVEST IS HEATING UP
Doing their “thousand dollar repairs” on a combine, farmers Galen Deneault of D and G Farms and Mark Boley prepare for another long hot day of wheat harvest.
“Farmers don't really like to give out yields because it can affect prices. You don't want to brag, but you also don't want to be too down, so let's just say it's better than anticipated,” said Deneault.
“It's just hard to tell,” Boley added, “The yields are all over the board.”
They agree, however, that the test weights have been very good, the protein above average, and the weather perfect for harvest.
“When it's 100 degrees, that's a good time to cut wheat,” Deneault said.
With very little rain forecast and plenty of hot days ahead, harvest should progress at a pretty steady pace, but it's not all sunny skies for farmers.
“It's a feast and a famine,” Deneault said, “It's perfect for harvest, but we need some rain for the fall crops.”
After spraying expensive herbicides on their crops, farmers want some rain to pull the chemicals into the soil.
“The weeds are getting too tall and soon we won't be able to kill them,” Boley said.
Deneault reported some spotty hail damage in D and G Farm's 900 acres of wheat, which echoes the area's reports.
“There was only slight freeze damage and there's been some hail damage in the area,” K-State Extension River Valley District Crops Agent Kim Larson said,“but not as severely as in Washington County. Some of the wheat with weaker straw was bent by high winds and rain, so that will be a little slower to harvest.”
Larson has heard fairly high yields from farmers, most averaging about 50 bushels an acre, but some reporting yields as high as 80 bushels an acre, mostly full season varieties producing those higher yields.
“The yields have been surprisingly good,” said Mark Paul, Cloud County Co-op Elevator Association General Manager, listing high test weights between 60 and 63 pounds and fairly low moisture levels of 10-11.
“The farmers are cutting the dry stuff first,” Paul said, “letting the rest dry out.”
“The weather has been good for drying wheat down,” Larson said, though the cool spring produced some late drying heads.
The cool spring also pushed harvest times back later than initially anticipated, most expecting an early harvest due to a warmer winter.
June 15 saw the first load of wheat brought in to the Co-op and, after taking in 350 loads on June 19, Paul is expecting to see the last of the harvest by June 30.
Larson anticipates harvest to extend into early July, hoping to see it wrapped up by July 4.
Deneault, however, is predicting harvest wrapping up earlier, thanks to less wheat planted this year due to low commodity prices.
“It's about a third of what was in last year,” Boley said.
The price listed for wheat is $3.74, over a $1.50 drop from much of last year's harvest which hovered between $4.90-$5.30.
“I don't know for sure, but it has to be 10 years since we saw $3.80. It's like going back to $5.00 minimum wage,” Deneault said, “It's hard to go backwards on wages.”
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