The Odessa Record -

Harvest has begun: Be safe, prevent fires, yield to trucks


--Photo for The Record by Linda Goodman.

Along Batum Road, fields extend to the horizon, with hay crops interspersed among the golden shades of ripe wheat. Harvest has finally begun and will extend into September in parts of eastern Washington.

As we go to press this week, harvest has yet to start within the closest environs of Odessa, although the station of the Odessa Trading Co. at Batum began receiving hard red winter wheat last week. This week, the stations at Moody and Ruff also began receiving hard red winter wheat, with one dryland field coming in at 60-61 bushels to the acre. The few quality reports that have come in also look good so far, according to Mark Cronrath, marketing manager for OTC.

The station at Wilson Creek, for which OTC has obtained a five-year lease, also began receiving wheat this week.

Since last week, the Odessa Union Warehouse has been receiving harvested canola in Odessa and at Irby. Canola also came into the Reiman station last week, with the arrival of wheat beginning Monday of this week. The Packard station has been receiving dried peas but no wheat yet, according to spokesperson Sandy Libsack.

Given the long, wet winter and spring we experienced, the later-than-usual harvest is no surprise. By all accounts, the existing wheat crop looks very good thanks to all that rain and snow. With the problems being experienced by some other parts of the country, it could be that the depressed prices of recent years might also inch upward.

According to information supplied online by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association, the wheat harvest in that state has been affected by the vagaries of Mother Nature. Rain showers and hail storms have interrupted the harvest many times since it began in western Kansas in June.

There was a late-April blizzard, followed by a short dry spell that wasn't good for the crop. Then came hail storms during the last few weeks that in places devastated both corn and wheat fields. Some estimates of the damage said that up to half of all wheat acres in the area were lost to hail. Test weights from unaffected fields have been good, and protein levels have been high, but even though yields are above average in fields that can be cut, losses from hail and wheat streak mosaic virus (a problem mainly in the Midwest) are affecting the bottom line of Kansas farmers.

In the southern Plains, fewer acres of wheat will be cut this year, because poor stands have led farmers to graze livestock in many of their fields rather than harvesting them for grain. In fields that were harvested, yields were low. In southwest Texas, some fields produced 25 to 35 bushels to the acre, but others produced less than 20.

With cattle prices high this year and wheat prices low, many Texas and Oklahoma farmers have put their cattle out to graze in the wheat fields.

Some of the lower-than-expected yields in Texas and parts of Oklahoma were the result of dry conditions in the fall that affected early growth.

Fields that were cut prior to recent rains had average test weights but lower-than-expected yields in the 30 to 40 bushel range, whereas some farmers had hoped for some fields to run in the 50-bushel range. The U.S. agriculture department expects the Oklahoma harvest to be 89.1 million bushels this year on 2.7 million harvested acres for an average of 33 bushels per acre. Last year's figures were 136.5 million bushels from 3.5 million acres at 39 bushels per acre.


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