Ag Blogs -
Friday, 06 May 2011 16:07
Wheat and More….or less
The good news is that we don’t have any disease in our wheat crop. But the bad news is that if we don’t get any rain, there won’t even be a wheat crop.
So I guess at this point, there’s only one thing worse than being a wheat farmer—and that’s being a custom cutter.
Here on our farm in Lane County, KS, we’ll have an abandonment of about l5%. And up until just recently, I was thinking the remainder of the crop would yield 35 to 45 bu/acre. But it continues to not rain. Not only that but over the weekend, we’ll see temperatures swing back up into the 90s. I’m guessing that’s when we’ll start seeing the wilting, the rolled leaves and the blue spots.
Part of the problem is that while we have great subsoil moisture, we have such a poorly developed root system that we can get into trouble very fast. It was so dry all winter long that the roots just never developed. Actually it was a miracle that the wheat even survived and didn’t winterkill.
But because of the poor root system, this crop is very much like a spring planted small grain—and that makes it very dependent upon rainfall. But we’re not doing very well in that regard either. At present, our precip is running only 30 to 50% of normal for the year.
ut that could change. The two wettest months of the year are May and June where we get between 3 and 3.3 inches of rainfall in each of the two months.
And, things could be worse. We could be from Texas or Oklahoma. At present the Kansas crop is rated at 44% poor to very poor. And with abandonment of l5 to 20% off of our 8.8 million acres of wheat, we’ll harvest about 65% of a normal crop.
But in Oklahoma, they’ll harvest just over 50% of a normal crop. And in Texas where 75% of the crop is poor to very poor, they’ll cut only 40% of a normal crop.
And ironically while we have this severe drought going on here in the central and southern Plains, it won’t quit raining in the northern Plains. And that’s very important because generally whenever we have a shortfall in hard red winter wheat production, the spring wheat guys just plant a little more to take up the slack. But that is not happening. Because of the wet weather, they have tied their slowest planting record. And it is starting to get late. Not only that, you can’t believe the amount of standing water up there. It’s going to be real interesting to see how much they do get planted whether it’s late or not.
Still, some market observers aren’t all that concerned because they feel we’ve got ample supplies of carryover wheat. On the other hand, the US corn crop is also plodding along at record slow pace—sort of like a Clydesdale at the Kentucky Derby. And we’re supposedly down to pipeline supplies on corn. And if we need more corn, we’ll feed wheat.
So what would happen if the corn goes in late, and we don’t get all that much planted and then it turns off dry? I’m guessing I don’t want to be in the bathroom when we get to that part of the movie.
Ehmke and his wife, Louise, raise certified seed wheat in Lane County.