Uncertain harvest nearing an end

This farmer south of Hillsboro was cutting a small field of wheat adjacent to a pasture along Indigo on Monday. The 2018 harvest has had mixed results, depending on moisture during the growing season. Busheling has ranged from 20 to 60 per acre as the fields diminish. Don Ratzlaff
This farmer south of Hillsboro was cutting a small field of wheat adjacent to a pasture along Indigo on Monday. The 2018 harvest has had mixed results, depending on moisture during the growing season. Busheling has ranged from 20 to 60 per acre as the fields diminish. Don Ratzlaff

With dire expectations heading into this year’s wheat harvest due to a lack of moisture during the growing season, reality followed suit.

Generally, farmers brought in fewer bushels per acre for much of the county, but not all of it.

Dick Tippin, grain coordinator at Cooperative Grain & Supply based in Hillsboro, said the harvest varied from 20 bushels per acre in some fields to as much as 50 and even 60 bushels per acre in others fields, mostly south of Hillsboro.

Meanwhile, some farmers cutting north of town were reporting 20-30 bushels per acre, he said.

Weather has generally cooperated for this year’s harvest.

“Last week was pretty much a good harvest week for us,” Tippin said. “Some guys got done, and others have maybe two or three more days left.

Tippin said the quality of the harvested wheat has been about average.

“Our test-weight average benchmark is 60 pounds,” he said. “We are pretty close to that, maybe a little bit under it.”

On the other hand, Tippin said the protein content has been abnormally high for this area—a lot due to the stress the crop went under.

“It seems to have put more of the nutrients into the (wheat) berries,” Tippin said.

“Our normal proteins are like 10, and this year there’s a lot of 12, 13, 14. We even had some 15, which is pretty good protein,” he added. “The problem is, everybody’s got that kind of protein, so the market is not really rewarding (farmers) for it.

“When there’s no protein a year or two down the road, if we’ve still got the wheat we can use it for our advantage. This year, there’s no benefit.”

Lack of moisture kept the wheat stalks shorter than most years.

“The guys really had to cut close to the ground,” Tippin said.

“Overall, it’s kind of what we expected, I guess. Some people were surprised that some of their yields were better than expected, but we knew it wasn’t going to be great.”