High yields expected despite cool temps in Colo. | TheFencePost.com

High yields expected despite cool temps in Colo.

Brad Erker, executive director for Colorado Wheat, anticipates that harvest will be a week later in the southern portion of the state, and two weeks late in the north.
Photo by Ryan Kanode

The Colorado Wheat Tour, a corner-to-corner look at replicated test plots, has come to an end. The tour began Monday, June 17, moving from Walsh at the Baca County Plainsman Research Center to Stulp Farms in Prowers County near Lamar, and Burl Scherler Farms in Kiowa County near Brandon.

The second day began at Michael Hinkhouse Farms in Kit Carson County near Burlington and moved to Steve Beedy Farms in Lincoln County near Genoa, barely beating a storm out of the field. Monday began in Orchard at Wickstrom Farms in Morgan County and then visited Cooksey Farms near Roggen in Weld County. Tuesday’s Haxtun stop included Steve Boerner Farms, an irrigated farm in Phillips County. Also included were Carlson Farms in Sedgwick County near Julesburg, and Andrews Brothers Farms in Yuma County near Yuma. The tour concluded Wednesday with a morning stop in Akron at the Akron U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service Station.

Scott Haley, the wheat breeder at Colorado State University offered walk-throughs of each of the 20 trial varieties. With the unusually cool and wet weather, there were some diseases present in some trial plots not typically noted. According to Brad Erker, executive director of Colorado Wheat, some stripe rust was present in many of the trials, some had been sprayed and some were elected not to be sprayed. Erker said cool, wet weather allows that disease to spike but he remains optimistic with warmer weather in the forecast.

“For the most part, we have great plots out there,” Erker said. “There was one location that had a little hail but there are some really good plots out there. Some with very high yields and some with more medium yields. Some had some diseases that were showing up that allowed us to gain some insight on diseases. Our fingers are crossed that we can get all those plots to completion and get that data in.”

Harvest, he said, is about one week behind normal in southern parts of the state, and two weeks behind north of Interstate 70.

A number of factors, some of them outside of wheat production, are weighing on the markets as harvest approaches. Good crops are expected in Russia, the Ukraine, the EU, and Argentina, major competitors with U.S. producers. Erker said about 50 percent of U.S. wheat and about 80 percent of Colorado’s wheat is exported.

“The biggest bullish factor probably on the price is the corn crop out in the Midwest,” he said. “The biggest factor isn’t a wheat issue, it’s a corn issue. Depending on what the corn crop does with all the late-planted crop they had, how well it does this summer and pollinates, and whether it gets enough heat units, does it finish before it gets frozen and all of those things are going to play a big factor in it.”

He said harvest troubles in Oklahoma and Kansas will also likely play a role but, outside portions of those states, there is a great deal of good wheat in Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota.

“There’s a lot of production out there and if all of that production gets in the bin, it’s going to be hard for the price to go up too much,” he said.

The tour also included a wheat report from Jerry Johnson of CSU Crops Testing, seed certification and plant variety protection information from Rick Novak, CSU director of seed programs.

Colorado Wheat is comprised of the Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee, the Colorado Wheat Research Foundation, and the Colorado Association of Wheat Growers. ❖

— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at rgabel@thefencepost.com or (970) 392-4410.