Story Robyn Scherer, M.Agr.
Photos Colorado Wheat

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July 15, 2013
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Wheat harvest


For area farmers, July is the time to harvest wheat. All across the state, dryland and irrigated farmers are putting in long days and endless hours on the tractor, gathering up the grains.

According to the USDA NASS July 8 crop progress report, Colorado Field Office, “Virtually all standing winter wheat was turning color with 45 percent ripe and 16 percent harvested thus far. Overall, condition ratings for winter wheat held steady last week with most still rated very poor to poor.”

The report showed wheat harvest is behind where it was last year, with 96 percent harvested at this time last year. However, it’s not far behind the average at 37 percent for the five-year average.

“Harvest is wrapping up in southeastern Colorado and is mostly in full swing along the Front Range and near Burlington, Yuma and Haxtun. Farmers continue to have issues in some of the driest areas of the state with fields that still have green heads because of the freezes in April. So despite overall dry conditions, harvest is very slow in some areas,” said Glenda Mostek, Communications and Marketing Director for Colorado Wheat.

In Otis things were just wrapping up, and CHS in Otis estimated it was around 90 percent complete.

“Moisture content averaged 11 percent, test weight averaged 59 percent, protein averaged 13.5 percent, and yields averaged about 18 bushels per acre county-wide,” she said.

Yuma is another area where harvest is nearing completion, with an estimated 75 percent harvested in the area. “Moisture content is averaging around 11 to 12 percent, test weight is 59.5 percent, protein has been 13 percent (they are paying a protein premium on 12 percent and higher) and yields were about 20 bushels per acre,” she said.

In Burlington, harvest was reported at less than 50 percent complete, and test weights were averaging 60.3 pounds per bushel with a moisture content of 11.9 percent, and a protein percentage of 15.1.

“Burlington area farmers are also seeing wetter areas in their fields with some green heads,” said

Mostek. According to Mostek, “Cargil-Cheyenne Wells said harvest is still progressing slowly because of green spots in the fields. Loads were starting to come in from north of Cheyenne Wells and from Burlington.

Amelia Cope estimated that harvest was 50 to 60 percent complete for the area but would continue for another two weeks. She also said there is a lot of sand in the wheat, as farmers have to set their headers low to cut the short stems.”

She continued, “Moisture content at Cargill-Cheyenne Wells was 8 to 12 percent, test weights were 56 to 58 pounds per bushel, with a few loads up to 60 pounds per bushel, protein was high at 13 to 15 percent, and yields continuing to be disappointing, with irrigated wheat yielding 15 to 25 bushels per acre and dryland wheat yielding six to eight bushels per acre. She is seeing a lot of farmers driving their own trucks in because they are only running one truck, as it takes more than one field to fill a semi.

Custom harvesters have been calling the elevator looking for work, since they are wrapped up in Kansas and the crop is not yet ready in the Dakotas.”

Other areas of the state are seeing better test weights. “The Burlington branch of the Stratton Coop is seeing good test weights of 59 pounds per bushel with an average of 13 percent protein. The harvest is about 40 percent complete for their area. Reported yields are between 10 and 20 bushels per acre. They expect to receive about 30 percent of a normal harvest,” she said.

Roggen was seeing an average crop for this year. “Keith DeVoe at the Roggen Farmers Elevator Association said that harvest was about 25 percent complete for the area. Average moisture content is 10 percent, test weight averaged 58 pounds per bushel, protein averaged 12 percent, and yields had been around 25 bushels per acre,” Mostek stated.

Cargill in Byers took their first shipment in on June 29, and it is estimated that harvest is one-third complete in that area. “They anticipate receiving about 80 percent of an average crop. Test weights started out very low but have improved to the mid-50s. Protein was high, in the 12.5 to 13 percent range. Yields were reported to be 15 to 20 bushels per acre,” explained Mostek.

Growers in Haxtun are hoping for an average crop, according to Scott Kirkwood at Grainland. Average moisture content is 11.5 percent, test weight is averaging 58.7 percent and average protein is 12 percent.

He had heard yields in the area ranging from 10 bushels per acre on continuous crop wheat to highs of 40 bushels per acre. They estimate harvest at 30 to 35 percent complete for the area.

Brent Oestman at the Flagler Coop said harvest is about 10 percent complete for that area. They are seeing some higher moisture contents with fields that look ripe but then test at 16 percent moisture.

Moisture content average is 12 to 13 percent. Test weights have generally been good, averaging 59 to 60pounds per bushel. Protein content is 12 percent, and yields are in the teens and 20-bushel per acre range. He estimates they will receive about 30 percent of an average crop in the area.

In Johnston, wheat harvest was just starting. “WestPlains, LLC at Johnstown reported that harvest is just getting rolling for their area, and is less than ten percent complete. They anticipate an average crop for the area. Moisture content so far has averaged 11 percent, test weight 58 pounds per bushel, protein 13 percent, and yields have been around 30 bushels per acre,” she said.

Colorado winter wheat production in 2013 is projected at only 49,500,000 bushels, down 33 percent from 73,780,000 bushels produced last year, and down 31 percent from the 10-year average crop of 71,978,000 bushels.

According to Colorado Wheat, the estimate for the 2013 Colorado winter wheat crop is based upon only 1,500,000 acres being harvested (which is the lowest harvested acres since 1965) with an average yield of 33.0 bushels per acre. This compares with 2,170,000 acres harvested last year and the 10-year average of 2,122,000 acres harvested and an average yield of 34 bushels per acre last year and the 10-year average yield of 33.4 bushels per acre.

An estimated 2,200,000 acres were planted last fall for harvest in 2013, compared with 2,350,000 acres planted for harvest in 2012 and the 10-year average of 2,395,000 acres planted for harvest.

Other crops are also continuing to progress. “By week’s end, 7 percent of the barley crop was turning color, behind 24 percent last year and 16 percent on average. Spring wheat developed ahead of average, with 91 percent of the crop headed and 8 percent turning color,” the crop progress report stated.

It continued, “Virtually all dry beans were emerged by week’s end while two percent were flowered. Sunflowers were up to 90 percent planted, up from 77 percent the previous week. Three percent of the corn crop was in the silking stage, behind eight percent last year and the average of six percent. The sorghum crop ended the week at 82 percent emerged and two percent headed.”

Pasture and range conditions continue to struggle, with 72 percent rated very poor to poor, one percent higher than the previous week. The five-year average is 37 percent. “The first and second cuttings of alfalfa were 90 percent and 13 percent complete, respectively,” the report stated.

The state did experience some moisture last week. “Colorado experienced isolated thunderstorms and rain showers last week, increasing moisture supplies and improving crop conditions in localized areas. Elsewhere, dry weather was prevalent, causing crop conditions and irrigation supplies to deteriorate. Reporters maintained that non-irrigated crops in some areas, particularly hay and small grains, are at high risk of abandonment. Statewide, on average, farmers were allowed 6.5 days in the field for operations,” the crop progress report showed. ❖




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The Fence Post Updated Oct 17, 2013 09:57AM Published Aug 7, 2013 01:24PM Copyright 2013 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.