Corn crop, wheat forecast improved

12/17/2013

Dry land corn still struggling in area's drought conditions.

Dry land corn still struggling in area's drought conditions.

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

Overall, this year's corn harvest was a big improvement over last year.

"We took 83 percent of our five-year average," Ken Jameson, vice president of the grain division at the Garden City Co-op, said.

Jameson said last year's corn harvest was 68 percent of the Co-op's five-year average.

"So this year was definitely better than last year," he said. "We've been so up and down, the five-year average has been changing quite a bit with the drought conditions."

Jameson said the current five-year average is 10 million bushels.

He also said test weight, which averages 56 pounds per bushel, was up this year.

"The big key there is the test weight of the grain, and overall, it was good for the whole company. Our average test weight was 59.55," he said.

Jameson said the average yield ranged between 195 and 200 bushels per acre, but there was a lot of variance depending on moisture.

"If Mother Nature would cooperate, a lot of these guys with decent wells will cut 230, 240 (bushels), but there's other guys with smaller wells, 190 makes them very happy," he said. "The yields were all over the place. You could really tell if someone had issues with an irrigation motor or a sprinkler. I mean, we heard of irrigated yields from 120 to 245."

Jameson said 95 percent of the corn crop over the past couple of years has been from irrigated land.

"The last two years, there hasn't been much dry land corn, particularly around Garden. There's some guys up in our northern district, north of Dighton, that raise some, but there again, the yields are way, way down from what they had been three years ago," he said.

Jameson said the final fall crop report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service should be released Jan. 10.

"So that will have the final corn number, final soybean number and the final milo number, and they'll also have in that report what they say got planted to winter wheat," he said.

Greg Stone, former Kansas Corn commissioner who farms south of Garden City, said his corn harvest was better than it has been for the last two years.

"We had a better summer — a little rain in July and August and it was dramatically different then 2010 and 2011," Stone said. "I would say the corn south of Garden City, overall, was 40 percent better than the last two years. The late season moisture in July and August made a significant difference."

Jameson said overall, planted wheat acreage also is higher this year.

"There were guys this fall, after they got done cutting their circles of corn, went back in with wheat, so we do know acreage is going to be up," Jameson said.

Stone said the late season moisture is one of three ingredients needed for a good winter wheat harvest.

"You need good top profile moisture to kick it off, and then we need some snow and with pretty good spring moisture, you can usually raise a pretty good crop," he said. "We're probably about one-third of what we need to get to the finish line."

Jameson said that despite better moisture totals over the summer, there always is a need for more.

"A couple of weeks ago at our annual meeting, the major comment was, 'we really need some more moisture.' The top soil is really drying out again," Jameson said. "Anyone living out here, they're always going to tell you we need more moisture."

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