Harvest starts strong, farmers optimistic

Staff writer

Harvest is in full swing as hot weather and strong winds drive grain moisture levels down.

While kickoff was uneventful for most area farmers, there have been some setbacks. A windstorm Monday night blew down tree limbs throughout the county but no crop damage was reported. Randall Vogel also had some excitement when his full grain truck flipped on its side.

“My daughter was driving,” Vogel said. “She got out OK, but was pretty shook up.”

Vogel said his daughter was forced to flip the truck when the breaks gave out as it came to a turn at 250th Road and U.S. 56. Spilt grain was better than injuries, he said.

“We had a little bit of bad luck,” he said. “Hopefully it gets better, but she did the right thing in getting it stopped, but everything turned out OK, thankfully.”

Randy Eitzen manager of his third, generation family farm near Peabody is getting off to a smoother start.

“Like everyone is we’ve had our usual harvest hiccups,” Eitzen said. “Our biggest one this year has been that my dang air conditioning quit.”

With forcasts predicted to be into the 100s later this week, Eitzen hopes someone comes to fix it. In the meantime, he is cooling his oven-like cab by opening the window.

“It’s not too bad,” he said, “until you get going with the wind and get all the dust.”

The dust, however, did not seem to be slowing Eitzen down as his Gleaner combine and 30-foot header made quick work of a field off 100th and Remington Road. Eitzen started cutting June 19.

“It’s been slow going at first,” he said. “Today (Monday) has been the first day that the straw has been easier to cut. This means I can cut faster and start earlier. We can cut from 8 a.m. until 2:30 or 3 a.m.”

Higher moisture in the plant makes for more difficult and slower cutting. Eitzen’s first full day of cutting was Saturday. On Sunday, he cut until 2:30 a.m. He is about one-third of the way done with harvest, and getting anywhere from 16 to 80 bushels per acre.

“We had a few fieldsd hit by wheat streak mosaic,” he said. “But the majority of our 2,000 acres of wheat will make around the same if not a little less than last year. It’s hard to tell, thought, until we got in all the fields.”

Wheat streak mosaic is a virus that attacks growing wheat plants, stunting them and their yield potential. This coupled with a late frost has made for some interesting yields in fields.

“We’ve had some frost and disease damage this year, and that’s why the numbers are all over the place,” Eitzen said. “I’m getting anywhere from 16 to 80 bushel readings in one field.”

While his fields do not seem to be averaging as high as last year, he is optimistic this will be a good year.

“I don’t worry too much what is out in the fields,” Eitzen said. “If wheat does poorly, then hopefully another crop will do better and even things out, but so far it isn’t looking that bad.”

Other area farmers are feeling the same optimism. At the Cooperative Grain and Supply in Marion, manager Mike Thomas said moods were positive.

“It seems to be good,” he said. “People I’ve talked to have said it looks decent.”

He said the elevator started getting its first trucks Thursday. It was not until 7 p.m. Thursday that the majority of famers were getting the right moisture content, he said. Moisture content has to be 15 percent or less n order to safely store grain.

According to Phil Timken, location manager of Mid-Kansas Co-op in Peabody, average test weights have ranged from 59 to 65 pounds per bushel. He said that while wheat is typically the elevators smallest crop, his elevator took in 50,000 bushels Friday.

“We will take in anywhere from 550,000 to 600,000 bushels this year from local farmers,” Timken said.

The Marion elevator, according to Thomas, has the ability to store more than 500,000bushels. Thomas said that while most area fields still has some green Thursday, hot, windy weather had dried them out enough to start full harvest Saturday.

“There is a lot more wheat in the area than last year because of the drought,” Thomas said. “Most people’s fall crops burnt up, so they had time to plant wheat. Wheat is also more drought resistant.”

For this reason, Thomas believes, that harvest will be over in 10 days to two weeks. Eitzen believes he will be done cutting in 10 days.

“I think we hauled 12 semi loads on Saturday,” he said. “If everything goes right and we keep that up, we will be done in about 10 days or so, and then we will go back and plant soybeans.”

To meet demands, local elevators including Marion, Peabody and Hillsboro will remain open until 10 p.m. until the majority of harvest in the area has concluded.

 

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