Written by Paul Penner Wednesday, 27 June 2007 01:25
What a difference a year makes when talking about wheat yields. Last year was a pleasant surprise when rains saved the crop as it was approaching the critical growth stage.
This year, the wheat had the potential to surpass all yield expectations. That is, until the fateful day in early April when the most beautiful spring snowfall foretold another story.
This year, the harvest experience is not an encouraging one, by any stretch of the imagination. It does, however, reinforce the old notion that one year rarely repeats itself in the next.
Rather than focus on the hard lessons learned this year, consider these observations that are an attempt to look at adversity from a saner, yet humorous point of view.
Some observations are reasons I still find the time to go through the motions of harvesting a very disappointing crop. Other comments simply reflect my feelings, albeit tongue-in-cheek, during the day.
A 15-bushel-per-acre harvested yield is still reason enough to drive the combine to the field, when considering crop insurance options that deducts projected yield from the insurance settlement.
A 10-bushel-per-acre harvested yield is still preferable for the same reason noted above.
They say, “Misery loves company.” All my neighbors are in the same boat as I am. I’ll bet they would agree it’s time for misery to take a hike.
Harvest help would feel useless and unappreciated if they stood around all week.
Cattle feeders have been complaining about high corn prices all year, thanks to increased ethanol production. Wheat producers and Mother Nature decided to help them by providing feed-quality, 43-pound test weight wheat.
Perhaps the beef people might reciprocate and provide each farmer with a few dozen T-bone steaks at an equally reasonable price.
Dealers still need to keep employees busy. Thought I would give them a few hours of my machinery maintenance business by running an under-utilized combine over bare ground.
This year’s income tax problem is solved.
Canadian Pet food manufacturers that have processing facilities in Kansas need not import cheap, contaminated wheat gluten from China anymore. Pet owners are assured all the available protein in Kansas wheat comes from natural sources.
It doesn’t feel natural not to climb into a combine around mid-June.
I’ve done therapeutic tillage before. Thought I’d give therapeutic combining a try.
Below are other, slightly serious observations while going through the motions of the harvest.
Have you noticed that when wheat harvest rolls around, those big mounds of weeds in the windrows of gravel appear? Try driving a wide-wheel based combine down the road at night while dodging one-foot high mounds, or larger, on a road that was designed for Model T roadsters.
Perhaps a kind word of advice is in order to those in county road maintenance. In the spring, weeds spring up on the edges of the road. In addition, some dirt roads are not graded every week, which means they become narrow, one-lane dirt paths until the next grader comes along. For those who rely on the dirt roads to get to and from their fields at harvest, it would be a great help if the weeds and grass were bladed early and more often, before they reach 3 and 4 feet in height.
Farmers must use the entire road when transporting equipment. The roadway must be cleared of as many obstructions as possible. I realize the windrow must be placed on the edge of the roadway.
According to my observations, on some roads, the dirt and gravel windrow is more than 4 feet from the edge, restricting both lanes of traffic to a very small space.
Perhaps the public has not expressed appreciation for the good work the county road and bridge department has done in the past. Without their efforts, landowners would have a tough time commuting to and from their property.
With that in mind, the advice offered is appropriately stated.
One final note: For farmers, crop insurance is viewed as an unpleasant, yet necessary risk-management tool that does not always perform as it was designed to work.
For wheat, its greatest weakness is its inability to determine crop damage early enough to allow the producer the option of planting another crop.
This year, that weakness was no more apparent than after the April freeze. Yield assessment procedures used by the government’s Risk Management Agency are inadequate and too inflexible in this age of high-tech, high risk agriculture.
During Congressman Jerry Moran’s tour of the freeze damage areas in Central Kansas, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers highlighted that weakness to the congressman and his staff, not to mention, an attending representative of RMA.
With that said, more therapeutic combining is next on my “things to do” list.
I can hardly wait for the session to begin.