2009 harvest winding down with above-average bounty


Illustrative of a harvest estimated at 90 percent complete, the grain trucks of local farmers stood idle Monday mid-morning at the Cooperative Grain & Supply elevator in Hillsboro while a semi-truck wheels around in the background to load up wheat for transport to the next destination. Elevator managers around the county reported slightly above average yields overall.

Grain-elevator managers throughout Marion County agreed Monday that wheat harvest is 90 percent complete with relatively abundant yields.

?We?re down to the short rows now,? said Mike Thomas, manager of the Cooperative Grain & Supply elevator at Marion. ?We?ll be down to nothing but stubble by the Fourth of July.?

?We have just a few producers left to finish,? said Lyman Adams, CG&S general manager at the Hillsboro headquarters. ?It?s been wheat harvest weather?hot and dry?and they have been out there cutting long hours every chance they got. Most have a day, a day and a half left.?

Stan Utting, general manager for Agri-Producers Inc., headquartered at Tampa, said harvest has gone smoothly this year with wheat coming in as it should?and ?we?ve been shipping every day.?

In the northern part of the county, Utting said, there have been almost no damage reports to the wheat.

?There?s a lot of 50-bushel wheat,? he said.

Compared to last year, utting said protein is lower?usually 10 to 10.5 percent with a few rare highs to 13?and yields are better.

API test weights have stayed steady at 58 to 60 pounds per bushel, he said.

Other parts of the county haven?t been so fortunate. Phil Timken, location manager for Farmers Grain Cooperative at Peabody, said there have been ?major difference factors? affecting wheat yields in his area, although farmers appear to have averaged 40 to 45 bushels an acre.

?I don?t know what all of it is,? he said. ?There?s been tremendous variation in yields. We?ve had farmers with less than 25 to 30 bushels to the acre to some with over 70.

?I don?t know whether it?s the time of planting, hail damage, cold snaps, heavy rains, the late freeze, or combinations of all of these, but yields are all over the map.

?It?s an average to better-than-average crop, but not quite up to a year ago. The acres are down, too?more going into row crops. Protein?s down, 10 to 10.5 percent. We?d like to see 12 or better.?

Thomas recorded the same protein levels, and noted that it?s because most of this year?s wheat matured without drought or disease.

?You do need some stress to carry good protein,? Thomas said. ?We had around 45 bushels average yield. About 60 to 65 was the biggest. It?s down, total, from last year.

?Out to the east, guys from the Elmdale area who usually bring us a lot of wheat had two floods plus hail?hardly anything left.

?Right between us and them, Grant Township, the area around Youngtown Church, had hail with some 25 bushel fields. Some of this did well with 30 to 35 bushels, half of it flat. It makes you wonder what it might have been like without damage.

?Yield was a little better this year,? Thomas added. ?The mud early and some showers slowed them down enough that we stayed pretty well ahead of them here.?

Adams said moisture on the wheat crop stayed in the 8 to 13 percent range with an average around 11.

The Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service calls 12 percent perfect.

Still, Adams said it was perfect enough here.

?It was an excellent crop,? he said. ?The weather worked out into perfect harvest weather. The extreme heat kept us going.?

He said the wheat tested 59.5 to 60 pounds. Protein, in the 10s, was disappointing.

Adams said wheat damage from flooding was evident here and there throughout the area. On flat ground, there was standing water in many places that either killed the wheat, or laid it down.

Local wheat prices one year ago were riding the crest of $8.50 per bushel; on Monday the CG&S price was $5.42. In 2007 the prices was $5.37.

KASS reported it expects a 4 percent reduction in the Kansas wheat crop from a year ago at 340 million bushels compared to 356 million bushels. The agency said Kansas has 8.5 million acres in wheat this year with a projected average yield of 40 bushels an acre.

Nationally, KASS said the wheat crop is expected to be down 20 percent from last year at 1.49 billion bushels. KASS said yields already in have been cut due to drought in Texas and a late freeze in Oklahoma, where wheat was further along than during the same freeze here.

Grain news sources for the Kansas City Board of Trade, DeBruce Grain and the Kansas Grain & Feed Association were reporting statewide protein percentages averaging more in the 11-plus range with highs up to 14 percent.

They said wheat harvest still is lagging behind in the far northeast corner of Kansas, with at least a week remaining.

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