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Market snapshot

Grain prices - April 24, 2014
Courtesy Cargill Grain, Hutchinson

Wheat – $7.44 bu.
Milo - $4.66 bu.
Soybeans – $14.34 bu.
Corn - $4.79 bu.

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Ag Blogs
Why are the flies so bad?
Michele Boy
Thursday, 19 September 2013 13:34
By Michele Boy
It is early afternoon and I am hunkered down weapon in hand. I keep one eye open as I try to doze. But I can't sleep. I must protect my baby and the enemy is charging at me in a relentless pursuit of my flesh.
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Make the farm bill a top priority
John Schlageck
Tuesday, 17 September 2013 09:48

Talk to anyone in farm country and next to concerns about the need for more rain, the farm bill remains at the top of the list of things Congress must do before the end of the year.

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Michele, the goat herding detective
Michele Boy
Monday, 09 September 2013 17:55
Saturday afternoon my daughter my dog and I all loaded up in the Jeep and  headed into town. It was a special Labor Day weekend as my husband had part of the weekend off.  As I drove south on Highway 27, I saw something white running along the road.  It was tough to tell just what was ahead through the western Kansas dead bug convention on my windshield. I slowed the Jeep down and found two white horned goats prancing happily southward on the the east side of the highway. 
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From Honey-May Farm
Mick Rausch
Friday, 30 August 2013 16:41

The summer seems to be here and as I write this column at Honey-May Farm, we are in pre-harvest mode.

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Black footed issues
Jim Sipes
Friday, 30 August 2013 16:38

Black-footed ferret or farmers? You may believe that both can exist without conflict, but not under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed “Black-footed Ferret Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement.”

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There's a big difference between a farmwife and a farmer's wife
Michele Boy
Sunday, 18 August 2013 21:14


I am not a farmwife. No, I am a farmer's wife.

Is there a difference? Yes, to me anyway. A farmwife cooks, sews and cans. She raises a large garden filled with squash, tomatoes and black-eyed peas. She cans pickles, tomatoes and whatever else you can. She puts herself last to make sure her family has baked goods, keeps her home spotless and clips coupons to save every last penny. She prides herself on never having a stain that won't come. And, she works tirelessly alongside her husband, dropping everything at the drop of a hat to haul water to cows or wherever else she is needed for.

No, I am not a farmwife. I am a farmer's wife. I married a farmer. I had a former life and career. I traveled, spent money unwisely and built a career in television. I ate out all the time - mostly Italian and Chinese food. I sent my laundry out sometimes, and when I did do it myself, the clothes ended up in a wrinkled pile on the floor of my studio apartment on the upper West Side of Manhattan that I paid too much for.

My husband says that in our first year of marriage, he had eaten more pasta than in his entire life. I cook a few "OK" dishes. I don't often bake, can or sew. My husband wears black socks so the ground-in dirt doesn't show. And I am hopefully building a career as a writer, and learning some farming along the way.

Over the past 10 years, I have put forth great effort to learn about farming. I have worked ground, planted and harvested milo and wheat, driven trucks to the elevator in town, and fed and watered the cows. There also were a few mishaps, one in particular being a 1,600-gallon nurse tank that crashed to the ground splitting in two, gushing water and forcing me to recognize I didn't listen to instructions very well.

I have also run for parts, researched deeds, been Johnny-on-the-spot with phone calls and Internet searches, and moved vehicles from field to field - grain cart, trucks, combines and tractors. And I have enjoyed almost all of it. No, I didn't enjoy the water tank fiasco. And to this day, unless the road to the cows is completely flat, I will not - not - haul water to them!

I have attempted some gardening, canning and baking, a little anyway. A couple years ago, I planted three rows of peas, watered them faithfully and ended up with two servings worth. I was never so grateful for Green Giant.

I canned some peaches, sort of. Do Ziploc bags count?

And I baked some delicious bread that won reserve grand champion in the county fair several years ago. It was Challah bread - pronounced "KHalla," but you can't get the right noise in your throat to say that, so "Halla" works. Did I learn this skill in Queens, N.Y., amongst some of the best Russian Jew Challah bread makers? No! I learned it from a farmwife in southwestern Kansas.

While I have witnessed the ideal wife a farmer would like, and I have goals to aspire to, I am not a farmwife. I bring other things to the marriage that make our life wonderful. I bring a strong faith that keeps my husband filled up when drought or hail hurts our crops. And we have a great team mentality with good communication and a willingness to look at our flaws and laugh. My lack of discipline also provides fun, spontaneity and creativity.

For instance, every year I try to enter something different in the county fair. My 2014 entry is going to be a quilt. I have bought the material: bandannas. I'm sure this will be great fodder for another column. When I looked up the categories I could enter, I saw professional. I said to my husband, "Oh yeah! I can get a professional to sew my quilt." He shook his head and said, "I'm sure that's what you think it is."

But he must have faith in me and my writing because he believes my book will be a bestseller. As any good farmer would want, the money will enable him to buy a new combine. I don't have the heart to say that a bestselling book won't bring in that much.

Most importantly, my husband is happy, generally, for the most part. I'm pretty sure he would enjoy a pie or something, though. Maybe in 2015?

 
Blessings of rain
Michele Boy
Friday, 09 August 2013 06:00
Editor's note: Boy and her husband, Heath, farm in Hamilton County. They received another few inches of rain since this blog was posted.

Rain has fallen on our fields. Yes, rain. We have a lot of terms for moisture falling from the sky around here and very rarely do we say it rained.
Read more...
 
25 billion bushels of wheat and 100 years of the state fair
Amy Bickel
Thursday, 25 July 2013 07:54

@KSAgJournalist From The Field

The 25th billionth bushel of wheat in a century of Kansas wheat production was harvested earlier this month on a farm in northwest Kansas.

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Learning at the Hamilton County Fair
Michele Boy
Tuesday, 23 July 2013 09:41

 

My almost 2 year old daughter and I participated in our first 4H experience.  To appreciate this, I need to give you some background on me. I was raised by my father in a city.  I learned to staple where you would sew. If a tired needed changed, my dad told me to wear a short skirt. Self sufficient I was not. But I was taught to work hard, study, and learn new things.

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The Faces of Harvest: Lance Russell, Hays
Bill Spiegel
Wednesday, 10 July 2013 16:13
By Bill SpiegelKansas Wheat

Lance Russell knew from age 3 that farming was all he wanted to do. Everything about farming was fascinating: all the machinery, the wonder of growing crops and especially, wheat harvest.

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The Faces of Harvest: The Strohl Family, Cunningham
Bill Spiegel
Monday, 08 July 2013 16:00

Each year, more than 20,000 Kansas wheat farmers take dramatic risks to grow the wheat that feeds the world. We hope you enjoy learning more about these farmers through our series, the “Faces of Harvest.”

At an early age, Frank Strohl knew that farming was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. For the last two decades, he’s farmed and raised cattle, treating the land with care in order to leave it better for the next generation.

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Baccus: Better immigration laws will help farms
Steve Baccus
Monday, 08 July 2013 08:08

After tackling the farm bill, Congress will now begin work on immigration. This can’t happen soon enough.

It is past time our failed immigration and guest-worker program is fixed.

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Poor wheat harvest ends with hope for the fall
Michele Boy
Wednesday, 03 July 2013 15:45

As the long 14 to 16 hour days of the wheat harvest continue on, the weariness sets in. 

Usually the excitement of cutting good wheat can give us a boost, but not today.  A few of our fields here in Hamilton County looked quite promising, however grain is shriveled and it has a low test weight. Five bushels per acre is still $5,000..  So we will cut it anyway. 

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Work heightens in field, but yield comes up short
Michele Boy
Thursday, 27 June 2013 12:35
Syracuse, June 25 - Normally during harvest, semis and straight trucks line Highway 27 waiting to weigh and unload.

Hired truckers, farmers and custom cutters would step out of their rigs to visit as they waited to get through. Phones would ring from combines, telling them to hurry back because the next load was ready to go.
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Short wheat, too much heat aren't a real treat
Michele Boy
Thursday, 27 June 2013 12:27

Sunday June 23rd 4 p.m. - Hamilton County's wheat harvest is underway at least for our family. One of our 1985 John Deere 8820 combines and our 1991 Chevy tandem truck start their work. It is one of our best fields. And while an average year in the northwest part of the county has our dryland wheat standing 2 to 3 feet tall, this dirt blowing, drought ridden year, has caused the wheat to stand 12 inches tall. The wheat is very short and has trouble feeding into the machine. Yet we are hoping for a surprising 15 bushels per acre.

This particular 160 acres has been no-tilled for the past five years. Last year to kill the kochia, we (and by we I mean not me) walked with shovels through the field to kill the weed by hand. The hard work may be paying off. With just a few inches of rain, 15 bushel wheat says a lot. We will see what it brings.

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Despite hail, rain boosts spirits
Michele Boy
Monday, 24 June 2013 08:44
We received 1.80 inches of rain on our parched and thirsty land the night before Father's Day. That makes a total of 4 inches since Jan. 1. Within 30 seconds of the first drops, the National Weather Service is on the phone asking how big the hail is.
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Triticale shines under stress
Vance Ehmke
Tuesday, 18 June 2013 08:33

Wheat and More ... or Less

I’ve always had a healthy respect for triticale. It is one tough little crop. And after looking at our triticale plots this year, I’m just flat astounded at how well triticale did under not only severe drought but also severe winter conditions.

Read more...
 
Farm Bill
John Montgomery
Tuesday, 18 June 2013 08:21
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas was right when he criticized the new farm bill that passed his chamber last week for price supports that benefit primarily Southern crops such as peanuts and rice. He voted against the bill.
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A poor harvest
Michele Boy
Monday, 17 June 2013 09:17

From the eyes of a western Kansas farmer’s wife

Every June in Hamilton County, farmers are gearing up for wheat harvest. Combines are serviced, checked and greased. Wives make out their grocery lists and haul carts full of items at the grocery store. Children help prepare meals, drive pickups and grain carts to the field. 

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Wheat harvest soon to roll through Kansas
Bill Spiegel
Thursday, 13 June 2013 11:44

By this time last year, the Kansas wheat harvest had already progressed northward to the Nebraska border and was at least 65% finished.

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Fluffy cattle Internet sensation
Amy Bickel
Wednesday, 05 June 2013 08:00

Urban folk, it seems, have just discovered the beauty of cattle.

An Iowa farm family is being bombarded by the latest social media craze - their cattle are, after all, "adorable."

Read more...
 
Grant Co crop tour: Drought digs in for year three in SW Kansas
Amy Bickel
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 16:08

Drought-stricken wheat crop also hit by freeze, meaning a devastating year for Kansas wheat farmers

The Kansas state song might have you presume that it's great that the skies are always sunny.

But in southwest Kansas, where the only clouds on most days are billowing dust from the Kansas wind, a few rain clouds would be a welcome sight.

I ventured to Grant County last week - kicking up dust as I walked through a stark field of winter wheat. The view at my feet was was a sparse and stunted crop because of the lack of rainfall. Stands were barely a foot high. Farmer Anthony Stevenson, my tour guide, grabbed his shovel trying to dig deep into the earth to find even a hint a moisture. All he produced was dry soil.

While we are finally getting some rain here in Hutchinson and in the eastern half of Kansas - the situation is a 180 in the western half. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows this section of the state in an extreme to exceptional drought -- the highest ranks by the agency. 

Stevenson estimates his dryland will make less than 10 bushel an acre. But the Grant County farmer had a double whammy this year. His irrigated wheat was hit by freeze. He figures at the most he'll make just 18 bushels an acre on that crop.

These are just one of the scars on this swath of Kansas prairie where rain comes tightfisted. Ponds are dry, irrigation wells aren't pumping to capacity. The Ogallala Aquifer, it seems, is shrinking faster as more instigators rely on it as their only source of water.

 

In the past year, dust has blown off Stevenson's neighbors fields and lined the edges of his own wheat fields just like snow. 

“The only problem is, it doesn’t melt,” he said.

Like any farmer, he stays optimistic. You have to be positive when there are so many things you can't control.

Like the weather.

But it's getting harder as Stevenson and others in the area embark on year three of a drought. 

 

“My dad would always say it will rain when you really, really need it,

” he said. “But I really, really needed rain for a long, long time." 

 

 
 

 

 

 
Why US Farmers Should Take “Pride” in Reforming Food Aid
Jim French
Monday, 27 May 2013 19:00

It feels good to be productive. As a Kansas farmer and rancher, I like the fact that I help transform air, water, and minerals into wheat and meat that can help sustain people. And as an agricultural advocate for Oxfam America, being productive means supporting sisters and brothers around the world to farm as I do and help feed their neighbors.

Read more...
 
No-till Is No Guarantee of Profitability
Vance Ehmke
Monday, 06 May 2013 09:26

Wheat And More ... Or Less

 

Some no-till enthusiasts might like you to believe that if you convert to no-till, you’ll float right to the top of the profit class. Well, it really doesn’t work that way.

Read more...
 
Wheat Tour Day 3
Aaron Harries
Thursday, 02 May 2013 15:35

Final results tabulated for annual tour as participants endure odd weather; 18 percent of state wheat crop to be abandoned 

Aaron Harries, Kansas Wheat’s Director of Marketing, reports from the Kansas City Board of Trade in Kansas City, Missouri:

The results are in, and the 2013 Winter Wheat Tour participants have pegged the Kansas wheat crop at 313.8 million bushels, well below last year's actual total of 360 million bushels. And the five year average of 341 million bushels.

Read more...
 
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