by John Schlageck
Kansas Farm Bureau
“When you tell a landlord the wheat made 80 bushels-per-acre and you’re going to double crop beans on his (recently) harvested land, they get a big smile on their face,” says Kris Bogart.
Now that’s good news. The kind a Kansas landowner welcomes but doesn’t hear often.
Not because his or her tenant doesn’t do everything possible to raise a bumper wheat crop each year, but Mother Nature is fickle. This year, she’s inflicted fire, a late spring blizzard, too much moisture and in some cases, not enough. Her wrath has dealt a crippling blow to many western Kansas grain growers.
Fortunately, none of those conditions impacted Bogart who farms in central and southern Dickinson County. He and brother, Kelly, harvested wheat yields ranging from 64 to 95 bushels-per-acre. Test weights ranged from 61.8 to 63.5.
“We harvested a phenomenal crop,” Bogart says. “We were right in a spot with ideal growing conditions.”
The Dickinson County grain farmer realizes his family harvested a rare crop this year. Bogart doesn’t need to travel far from his farm to find wheat yields not nearly as good.
While he wishes all farmers could have shared in the same bounty, Bogart understands the land giveth and taketh. He’s learned to see his vocation not as it is, but rather as it could, or will be.
“We’re really fortunate,” he says. “Believe me, it may be many years before we harvest such a crop again.”
Still, as he waited for his wheat fields to dry out after a small shower traveled across the stubble the second week in July, Bogart did not fret much about planting his late field of double-crop soybeans. He knew this would only dry the soil out a bit more and decrease the chance of the press wheels on his planter filling up with mud.
It goes without saying, he’d much rather spend time doing just about anything than cleaning mud out of press wheels on a 100-degree July day with 70 percent humidity. That’s what he calls a sweaty mess.
After more than a decade of double cropping soybeans immediately after wheat harvest, the Bogart brothers are convinced this rotation is good for their family farming operation.
“It keeps our fields cleaner and crops produce better,” the Dickinson County farmer says. “The longer we no till it seems like we fight more weeds and disease. Double-crop soybeans behind wheat will pay for the chemicals we would have used and keep the ground just as clean.”
In 2016, Bogart raised as many beans per acres on double-cropped fields as their full-season. He attributes this to the abundance of moisture the full-season soybeans received.
Seems last year’s full-season crop grew a much bigger plant than necessary. On the other hand, the double-cropped soybeans didn’t grow as much vegetation and put more input into the pods and beans.
Every year is different. Conditions vary. Moisture arrives or doesn’t. Who can predict what disease or insects might flock to the fields?
We try to maintain a positive outlook,” Bogart says. “Some years, we’re blessed—others, not so much.”
Like all farmers, they take the good with the bad. When it’s a bad year, the Bogarts look toward the next year and hope it’s better.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas.