The wide variation in Marion County wheat yields this year from north to south illustrates what a difference timely rain can make.
In the north, where rainfall was most sparse, Stan Utting, Agri Producers Inc. manager in Tampa, said, ?It?s been pretty bad, yields very poor, less than half of normal.?
Utting said in the close to 30 years he has been with Agri Producers, this would come close to being the poorest year he?s seen for wheat as many fields struggling to reach 20 bushels an acre at the top, ?less than half of normal.?
The quality of the wheat was good as harvest began, then progressively got poorer as test weights dropped and weeds grew, he said.
Toward the center of the county, the situation was a little netter with the wheat fields receiving more rain.
Dick Tippin, marketing coordinator at Cooperative Grain & Supply headquartered in Hillsboro, said wheat yield was about 60 percent of normal with weight at 60 pounds per bushel or better before harvest was interrupted by rain, then 56 to 58 pounds when harvest resumed with grain shrinking.
?When it rains on mature wheat it swells up, and then it shrinks down to reduce weight,? Tippin said. ?Protein was around 13.5 to 14 percent?still really good.?
Storage no problem
Storage space never was a problem with the lower yield, Tippin said, but CG&S will begin shipping grain out to its central storage west of Canton almost right away to make plenty of room for what appears to be a potentially abundant fall harvest.
He said CG&S will be able to use a new 310,000-bushel bin, now under construction, by fall harvest.
In the southern part of the county, Phil Timken, manager of the Farmers Grain Co-op in Peabody, said farmers are feeling ?just really blessed? because they received periodic rains, plus a 3-inch rain that the northern end of the county didn?t get.
That left them, he said, with many fields yielding in the range of 60 bushels per acre. Timken said even poorer yields were in the 30 to 40 bushels an acre range.
Test weights were up to 64 pounds a bushel initially and even the more shrunken wheat was still testing around 57, he said.
It is still wet enough in the southern part of the county that some farmers had trouble getting into fields, Timken added.
Some farmers have had to spray their fields to kill emerging weeds before the wheat could be harvested.
Timken said Farmers Grain has been able to resume normal hours rather than staying open Saturdays for the harvest, but he still expected to be open for intervals over the weekend for farmers who are waiting the prescribed times for herbicide dissipation before harvesting.
The two other cooperative managers said farmers were in at least the last 10 days of harvest.
To make matters a little worse, all three managers noted that wheat prices have steadily declined as the wheat harvest progresses across the country.
The National Agricul?tural Statistics Service estimated Friday that the Kansas wheat crop would yield 235.2 million bushels, the smallest harvest in Kansas since 1989.
NASS forecast the average yield to be at 28 bushels per acre, down 10 bushels per acre from last year and the lowest average yield since 1995.