Harvest (and young farmer) get under way
Alan Vogel’s family spent Fathers Day weekend working together as wheat harvest kicked off in the county.
His four children — Allyson, 10, Kelsey, 8, and twins Landon and Justin, 5 — waited their turn to ride with him in the shade of a harvest truck.
The air-conditioned cab provided respite from triple-digit heat that dried out the crop.
“Some of it is the best I have had in 10 years,” Vogel said as he drove his combine Saturday. “It’s been very dry, but quality is good, and yields are good.”
Cash prices ranging prices from $5.70 to $5.72 a bushel at press time are several dollars above what they have been are giving area farmers reason for hope.
“It’s an outstanding price,” said Dan O’Brien, a professor of agricultural economics with Kansas State Universiy
The U.S. average for wheat on June 10 was higher at $6.50, but last year’s price was $5.05. The year before it was $4.58.
“It’s quite an opportunity for people who get a good crop in,” O’Brien said. “My thought is that prices have been so volatile, and there are so many factors that could drive it up or down it seems good to take advantage of a good wheat price when you have it.
Vogel said the county’s wet spring forced him to spray fungicide to control disease. He has seen test weights “ranging from 50 to 70 bushels an acre.
John Ottensmeier, manager at Cooperative Grain and Supply, Marion said test weights were averaging about 58.
Early moisture and sudden heat ripened the crop fast, said Chuck Knight, location manager at Mid-Kansas Co-op, Peabody.
“I had some tell me they’ve never cut as dry a wheat with as green as what the straw was,” he said, adding that test weights were 59 to 60.
Greg Oborny was helping father David Oborny harvest north of Marion, but said the fields were still pretty wet Saturday.
David Oborny said test weights were “about average,” ranging from 53 to 60 bushels an acre.
“Nothing spectacular,” he said. “Last year was better than this year. It’s pretty good if the price will hang in there, but we’ll take what we can get.”
The state’s wheat crop was rated 9% poor, 23% fair, 52% good, and 11% excellent, by the National Agriculture Statistics Service.
“There has been a lot of yield variability this year; some of it has been really great,” The late heat damaged some yields and wheat proteins are testing lower this year, but that creates an opportunity for farmers who turn up with a good crop to be paid a premium price.
“If they are fortunate enough to have a crop with good protein value, it will be really jealously owned by anybody who could take advantage of that.”
Many grain elevators will blend higher protein wheat with other grains to offset low protein loads.
A tight corn crop might provide another market for wheat.
“They are not far from major feed lots,” O’Brien said. “If corn supplies or really tight it could create cash support for central Kansas wheat until fall feed grain becomes available.”
The price of corn is 11% or 12% above wheat which provides part of the incentive, he said.
“The wheat may not be made into bread if supplies of corn are so tight wheat may become feed,” he said. “It would be another factor to give support to the wheat market. Lots will need to secure supplies of grain to feed livestock.”
Area farmers maintain cautious optimism about the markets.
“It’s been nice to have prices a little higher,” Vogel said. “They are certainly higher than they have been in five years, but costs have risen for fuel and fertilizer as well.”
Vogel already is looking nervously at the row crops and hoping this week will bring needed moisture.
“If we don’t get some rain these next few weeks, we could see some serious damage there,” he said.
Hot, dry weather is expected to last until this weekend with more triple-digit heat in store Thursday, according to Andy Kleinsasser, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.
A cold front will move in Friday night, brining a 60% to 70% percent chance of rain.
“There is enough moisture and instability that some strong or severe thunderstorms are possible,” he said. “Aside from any severe weather that pops up, there is a potential for heavy rainfall.”
Last modified June 23, 2021