ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Thanks to a week of sunshine and warm temperatures, the 2005 wheat harvest was winding down in Marion County as of Monday, according to area elevator spokesmen.
A common theme for the crop: less-than-expected yields resulting in an overall disappointment.
Cooperative Grain & Supply
Harvest was about 90 percent complete by Monday, according to Dick Tippin, grain coordinator at Cooperative Grain & Supply, which has elevators at Hillsboro, Marion, Lehigh, Canton and Canada.
“We had what I would call an average harvest,” Tippin said. “Bushels per acre ranged anywhere from 20 to 50, but we had a higher-than-normal presence of dockage this year.
“Lots of the wheat had cheat and downey brome, but fortunately weeds weren’t really a factor this year.”
Tippin said the quality of the wheat was “very good,” in spite of rains that came as the wheat ripened.
“The rains didn’t really hurt our quality much at all,” he said.
Overall, CG&S received 2.115 million bushels of wheat with 424,000 bushels coming in at the Hillsboro elevator.
The late-spring frost, coupled with various wheat varieties, were contributing factors in yields.
“I’ve heard some of the farmers say the Karl 92 yielded better because that was a later-maturing variety,” Tippin said. “Some of the earlier varieties, like Jagger, and some of the blends didn’t fare as well.
“The frost really hurt the earlier (planted) wheat in addition to the variety planted.”
Tipping said the new scales and scale house were an overwhelming success in Hillsboro.
“We had a lot of positive comments and we got the traffic off of Ash Street, which was one things we wanted to accomplish,” Tippin said. “It really speeded things up for us and for the producers.”
Tippin said the harvest results didn’t surprise most people.
“I guess this harvest turned out about like we’ve been expecting for the last month or so.”
Concern has now shifted to fall crops, according to Tippin.
“We still have a lot of milo to plant, so it’ll be late. But the early milo, beans and corn look really good,” he said. “But we could use some rain already.
“The milo that’s going in now is more the shorter-season varieties and there are some double-crop beans going in, but they’ll need some pretty good weather to make a crop.”
Recent hot and dry weather in the Peabody area prompted location manager Chris Bielefeld to estimate harvest was 90 percent complete in the southern part of Marion County, where yields weren’t as good as hoped for.
“Disappointing,” Bielefeld said of the 2005 crop. “Yields were definitely down this year.
“I don’t think it was so much because of the heavy rains we got as from the frost,” he added. “Damage was a lot worse than people first suspected.”
Bielefeld added that disease and hail south of Peabody were contributing factors in the harvest receipts.
A total of 350,000 bushels of wheat were delivered to the Peabody location.
“Our test weights were pretty good on the wheat we took in, but we had a lot of cheat and downey brome,” Bielefeld said. “I think our wheat will average at or above 60 pounds, though.”
Yields ranged from 12 to 50 bushels per acre, according to Bielefeld, “but most of them ranged from 25 to 35 bushels per acre.”
What looked like another great crop just one month ago didn’t turn out like producers had hoped.
“It was a little disappointing for most of the guys,” Bielefeld said. “Once the farmers got out into it, it was pretty thin and the freeze damage was worse than most thought.”
Fall crops look promising, but are already in dire need of moisture, Bielefeld said.
“It’s amazing because we just had that 10-plus-inch rain not so long ago,” he said. “But most of that was runoff and everything has really dried out quickly.”
Agri Producers Inc.
Harvest was quickly wrapping up in northern Marion County on Monday afternoon, according to Stan Utting, manager of Agri Producers Inc.
He said this year’s harvest won’t be one for the record books in the Tampa area.
“This was the worst harvest we’ve had in 20 years,” Utting said. “It was a combination of things, but the frost didn’t help us a bit and we had 19 inches of rain in May-and that never helps a wheat crop.”
While precise totals weren’t available on the bushels brought in to API, Utting said the amount was “about half or less than we took in last year.
“I brag when it’s a good harvest, but I probably won’t say much when it’s a poor harvest,” he added with a chuckle.
Harvest will be completed within the next few days, according to Utting.
One positive word from Tampa, Utting said, was the quality of the wheat that came in.
“The test weights were good and the moisture was all dry,” he said.
Utting reported, as did the other managers, that cheat was a problem but not enough to have many negative effects.
Yields in the Tampa area were in the 28- to 30-bushel range.
“Overall, once the fields dried out, the weather was harvest weather and harvest went along very smoothly,” Utting said.
Looking ahead, Utting said the fall crops look exceptional, but backed away from making predictions.
“Like I always tell our people, in this country we’re only 10 days away from a drought,” he said. “Believe it or not, we need some rain.”