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A review of the wheat harvest

View from Rural Route 8

By Jim Suber

This year’s wheat harvest is about over, and the reports sound pretty darn good. And, of course it could have been even better with just one more rain back when the flag leaf was waving for it.

Reports from virtually all over the state indicate fine quality in terms of protein count—often 12 percent—and test weights often more than 60 pounds a bushel, and yields often more than 40 bushels an acre. Some fields have given up 70 bushels an acre.

This season I have talked to several growers and read nearly each day the reports put out by Kansas Wheat, an organization functioning on behalf of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Wheat Commission. Bill Spiegel handles a lot of the communications work for that outfit, and he’s one of the best, both as a farmer and as a top-drawer editor. They are lucky to have him.

It was interesting to see and hear reports of whopping yields from southeastern Kansas, which is not the state’s most prolific wheat region. In fact, it is one of the three easternmost regions that together form the smallest outputs of wheat each year.

Just guessing here from the reports so far, but I am going to say the state’s farmers will come up with 402 million bushels for the 2012 season…

Hay reports include another short season for brome yields, but quality seems to be good in my neighborhood, according to a cattleman friend who puts up a lot each year across a wide range of patches and fields…

A leading farm advisory service says that the La Nina effect is over, and the El Nino effect is about to replace it, meaning that it will be a cooler and wetter July and August than we’ve seen lately. That was to say that the Corn Belt growers will get a growing boost for the corn, which is growing on some 95 million acres. Experts are predicting a bear market for corn.

As everyone knows who farms or ranches, input costs are crazy, so corn prices won’t have far to fall to go below cost of production for many farmers…

In my part of the world 25 miles west of Topeka, a bit of rain finally fell. The amounts seemed to range from just under an inch to two inches or more across a wide area. For yours truly that brought my spring total to a very modest 2.2 inches. The late Shorty Kemble, a character if ever one breathed and a friend of my family, would always beat me a fraction at the rain gauge. If I had 1.25 inches, Short’ would declare he received 1.33, just enough to be plausible about it. He was having some fun, which is a good thing if harmless. And that was a joke I went along with, always shaking my head in mock consternation at my unfailing bad luck when it came to rainfall totals.

And remember, the rain falls on the good and bad alike, so it might be okay to mutter a bit when a storm system divides just as it gets to you, leaving you dry and miffed.









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