Harvest time again in Finney County

6/24/2014

It's wheat harvest time in Finney County. Those words have probably been spoken in this area since about the time Kansas became a state. It has been said God created this part of Kansas to grow wheat and 2014 definitely shows that is true. Kansas almost always is the No. 1 producing state for wheat, but 2014 could be one of the rare years another state has more production. Total production in Kansas this year should be around 260 million bushels of wheat. Lack of rain across the state was the main reason it was thought this year would be the lowest production in about 20 years.

It's wheat harvest time in Finney County. Those words have probably been spoken in this area since about the time Kansas became a state. It has been said God created this part of Kansas to grow wheat and 2014 definitely shows that is true. Kansas almost always is the No. 1 producing state for wheat, but 2014 could be one of the rare years another state has more production. Total production in Kansas this year should be around 260 million bushels of wheat. Lack of rain across the state was the main reason it was thought this year would be the lowest production in about 20 years.

Before we look at Finney County specifically, let's look at something more important than how much wheat is produced, namely safety. Wheat producers work long hours and have large, dangerous equipment. Please be careful, be aware, be alert and use good judgment. We do not want to hear about a tragedy like the one that happened last fall. A combine hit a hole, the front glass in the cab fell out and a 5-year-old girl fell into the whirling header. One of my daughters knows the family and one of my granddaughters is the same age as the little girl. My granddaughter used to love to ride on equipment, but will never ride again until she is old enough to drive it herself.

Wheat harvest started in Finney County this year on June 16 with little hope for much of a harvest from dryland acres. Around 5 inches of rain (or less) from planting to harvest, does not bode well for wheat. Surprising and amazingly, most fields are producing more wheat than anticipated with very high-quality wheat reported. Test weights are high, mostly 60 to 62 and even higher than that has been reported.

There is a big difference in wheat yields across the county. In general terms, producers in the eastern part will do better than those in the west. Conventional tillage farmers in the east are getting around 15 to 25 bushels to the acre. Some fields on the western side are down to four bushels, but often up to 12 bushels per acre. Reports of one combine cutting 125 acres can easily happen with wheat only yielding 10 bushels per acre. The western part of Finney County had nearly 25 percent abandoned acres, especially counting acres getting insurance checks.

Everyone knew irrigated wheat has looked great and could be very high producing. Most of the irrigated wheat, which is around 10 percent of the 150,000 acres of wheat in Finney County, will not be cut until around July 1. Combines will be running slower with irrigated wheat and trucks will be making trips to town at a good rate. Irrigated wheat in Finney County will yield from 40 bushels for fields that didn't add much water to more than 80 bushels per acre for fields that were watered quite a bit and did not have any late freeze damage.

Four years of drought do not make for very good growing conditions. But 2014 will go down as a pleasant surprise. I concur with an expert who told me this year's total production in Finney County is only a third of a normal crop, but probably 20 percent better than last year. I think Finney County wheat producers will harvest more than 3 million bushels of wheat and it might get to 3.3 million if irrigated wheat surprises like dryland.

Producers love to talk about production, but successful producers know that marketing is what really separates the wheat from the chaff. Looking at the KC Wheat July contract for 2014, we see prices in the neighborhood of $6.20 per bushel on Feb. 1, $8.40 on May 1 and $7.20 currently. Wheat producers here in southwest Kansas thought the increase in wheat price from February to May made sense, but question the current price because the wheat growing here continued to deteriorate. The good market increase had more to do with the situation in Ukraine than the poor growing conditions in the hard red winter wheat growing area of the U.S.

Wheat is definitely a global crop. Around the world there are about 10 significant areas that grow wheat in amounts similar to the U.S. and are direct competitors. Worldwide the supply of wheat is adequate or higher. Surprisingly for our area to comprehend, the price might slightly improve because of wet conditions in other parts of the U.S. Likely, the near-term market will remain in the range where it is with slight changes in price and, I am afraid, more lower than higher.

Remember the Market Wheat Show for the Finney County Fair. About one gallon of wheat and a completed entry card is required to make an entry. Most elevators in the county have the cards or they are available at the Finney County Extension Office. The premiums at the Finney County Fair are worthwhile and the best sample from Finney County is guaranteed at least $50 at the Kansas State Fair.

If you have any questions about wheat harvest or need other information, call David Coltrain, Finney County Extension agent, at 272-3670 or email coltrain@ksu.edu.

Vitamins advice

Before taking a daily vitamin or dietary supplement, you might want to think about what you're really consuming, says a Kansas State University human nutritionist.

"Supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration like other drugs are regulated, which is something I think a lot of people don't realize," said Brian Lindshield, assistant professor of human nutrition.

Lindshield researches supplements to see if the ingredients listed on the label actually match what is found in the bottle. His recent research found that prostate supplements, which may reduce the risk of prostate cancer, are usually true to the label.

"Our research found that the prostate supplements that listed the ingredients on the bottle were the ones that generally contained those ingredients," Lindshield said.

"You should probably avoid buying the cheapest supplement available because if the manufacturer is cutting corners to get the price really cheap, they probably are not going through the same amount of standard that the manufacturers of more expensive products are," Lindshield said.

Another tip: Don't expect supplements to make up for a bad diet.

"Vitamins and minerals will prevent deficiency, but it's not going to make up for a lot of the chronic disease risks that come with an unhealthy diet," Lindshield said.

$-t-r-e-t-c-h your food dollar

A skillet meal is a main dish combination, which implies it contains a protein as well as other food components. We often plan our meals around a meat or protein because it is often the most costly and takes the most time to prepare.

There are many choices of protein — chicken, turkey, beef, pork, seafood, beans, lentils or eggs. Popular choices for the grain or starchy portion might be bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, tortillas, beans, cornbread, barley or oatmeal. Other flavors, sauces, toppings and vegetables are added to make the skillet meal moist and flavorful. A recipe can easily be varied by just substituting a different protein or grain.

If you have any questions or any other concerns, visit Léhisa de Fornoza at the Kansas State Research Extension, Finney County office, 501 S. Ninth St., or call 272-3670.

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