Wheat harvest heating up

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Register/Bob Johnson
A combine driven by Tom Stranghoner kicks up dust as it clips grain-filled heads in a wheat field southwest of Iola.

Tom Stranghoner thought he was being optimistic when he carried a pail of wheat into Piqua Co-op at mid-afternoon Tuesday.
“I think it’s too wet, but thought I ought to check,” Stranghoner said.
Marvin Lynch, elevator manager, dumped the wheat into a computerized analyzer and read 12.6 percent moisture. Plenty dry enough; 13.5 percent is the maximum threshold.
A few minutes later Stranghoner was guiding his combine through a lush field southwest of Iola.
Lynch, who’s seen a good many wheat harvests in his years at Piqua, figures this one will finish rather quickly, particularly with hot and sunny weather forecast through the weekend.
“We’d probably be done by the weekend, except some of the guys are having to work in planting and replanting beans around their wheat,” Lynch said.
Rain Saturday — a half inch throughout the area — kept fields tacky and prompted dew and humidity that doesn’t dissipate until well into afternoon hours.
Harvest complications are tempered by less wheat having been planted last fall, Lynch said. “I doubt if we have half the acres of a year ago,” Lynch said.
The winter crop was victim of wet weather and high fertilizer prices, which were driven up by high oil and natural gas prices.
“When fertilizer came down, some more wheat was planted,” he said. Even so, “it looks like the yields are going to be about 60 percent of normal,” he said.
In a year when all the pieces fall nicely into place, Allen County farmers sow about 40,000 acres of wheat and expect yields to average nearly 40 bushels an acre.
With about 20,000 bushels of grain delivered to Piqua Co-op by Monday afternoon, yields registered 15 to 35 bushels per acre.
“The quality has been better than expected — so far,” he said. “It’s averaged 58 to 60 pounds a bushel” — 60 is ideal. “It’s still early, though, and it’s hard to say what the quality will be overall.”
Wheat was fetching $5.50 a bushel on Monday.

THE OTHER two primary cash crops, corn and soybeans, are in various stages of development.
Corn wasn’t planted as early this year as farmers like, Lynch noted, but recent rains and this week’s forecast of searing heat and sunny skies “is just what corn likes,” Lynch said.
A field just west of Iola along the Neosho River has started to tassel and another field nearby had a rich green color Monday afternoon, with leaves upturned and soaking in sunshine.
Soybeans were planted in a more timely manner and many fields set aside for that crop have been sown.
“Many of the beans in our area have been planted, except for a pocket up around Neosho Falls,” Lynch said. “It seems like every time it rained an inch everywhere else, they got two or three inches up there.” That quantity of rain delayed planting and also flooded some fields to the point where replanting is required, Lynch said.
Soybeans can survive flooding if water recedes within a day or two and a new shower comes along soon to wash away dirt deposited by the overflow, he said.
“Saturday’s rain was perfect for washing the beans.”