Alva Review-Courier -

Despite torrential rains, fightin' the mud and delays, the 2019 wheat harvest was good in this area


Sights like this were all too familiar in this 2019 wheat harvest in the Newsgram reading area. After record-setting rainfalls, fields were wet beyond words. One farmer reported pulling his custom-harvester crew out three times in one field on a certain day. A Caterpillar or dozer type vehicle was required to get vehicles out of that same field twice the same day. That was the story all over the area this harvest. It was time-consuming and costly as many pieces of equipment were damaged as farmers worked to get the buried vehicles out of the soggy ground.

To a farmer there is hardly a better feeling than having your wheat cut and it did well; and you have fall crops planted in ground that has ample moisture. You thank God. And of course with 100 degree days in July and upcoming August, you pray to God to let some rain fall on your crops although you just finished fighting mud during harvest from record-setting rainfall – and now it's dry.

It's a continuous cycle. Farmers operate at the will of Mother Nature and the markets to determine the worth of their crops and livestock – ultimately their families' livelihood. You may ask why would anyone do that? If you know lifelong farmers, you know their love of the land and what they do. Many say it's in their blood. So, farmers and ranchers continue to work daily from sunrise to often beyond sunset to provide a cheap food supply for the world. It's what they do.

Most everyone in the Newsgram reading area is thankful at the results of the 2019 wheat harvest.

Despite monsoon amounts of rain and rain delays; and fighting the mud, yields were good.

Not that it's great, but the price of wheat today, Tuesday, July 23, is $4.12/bushel. Right after harvest, the price often drops to below $4.

The following is what some area elevator operators had to say about the 2019 wheat harvest:

"From a yield perspective, it was very good," Alva Farmer's Cooperative General Manager Ronnie Truelock said of the 2019 wheat harvest in the Alva area.

"I had a number of producers tell me it was the best crop they ever had," Truelock said with reports in the 50-70 bushel/acre range. "Of course some crops were not as good. The excessive moisture we got didn't hurt as much as the winds, hail and the rain with wind that knocked some of the crop down."

With record rainfalls that postponed harvest, Truelock said, "This year is the worst I have ever been around for mud. Combines and spray rigs got stuck. The mud got everything."

Truelock said "lots of acres" are being planted with other crops like sesame and soybeans. He said right now those crops "have a better return than wheat." He added that many producers are planting sorghum also. "We have fall crops in the ground that have a tremendous start."

Speaking for the Alva Farmer's Cooperative, Truelock said, "We had a very good year, This was a good one for us and the producers." He said they paid some protein premiums to customers. Truelock said this bountiful harvest was welcome "especially after the drought last year."

Despite rain and wind laying down lots of wheat at Burlington it turned out to be a pretty good harvest. Speaking for Burlington's Co-op, employee Meredith Harden said Burlington's elevators took in 1.5 million bushels of wheat. She said that far surpassed last year when a drought seriously hurt the intake, well under a million bushels. Harden recalled the 2016 bumper crop when Burlington's elevators took in over 2 million bushels.

Harden said harvest is all wrapped up for another year – even the guys cutting out mud holes are finished. She said mud was the biggest problem this harvest.

Debbie Stoner of the Cherokee Co-op said they took in over 1.3 million bushels at their elevators this harvest. Cherokee's average intake is 1.2 million so 2019 is a good year for them. Stoner said that by far the biggest obstacle this year was mud holes.

Chuck Carson, Dacoma Co-op agronomist, said it was a good year with Dacoma's Co-op taking in over 1.3 million bushels of wheat. He heard of average yields in the 50 bushels/acre range. He said test weights were down some – mainly in the high 50s (not reaching the low to mid 60s which is ideal). Protein levels were good.

"Wet weather, everyone getting stuck, and moisture making a late start in the mornings" were the biggest obstacles Carson listed for the Dacoma area harvest. "All in all it was good harvest – better than last year."

Steve Inslee, manager of the O.K. Grain Cooperative in Kiowa, said he is "comfortable with the bushels taken in" at their elevators in Kiowa, Hardtner and Hazelton. He listed average yields of 35-38 with some in the mid-50s range and "everything in between."

"This is about as late of a harvest as I've been in for this area," Inslee said.

Here it is getting to be late July and "Some guys are still out their fightin' the mud," Inslee said. Remarkable the wheat's test weights in the Kiowa area stood up and maintained in the 60.2 range, Inslee said. They've had average protein levels.

Machinery getting stuck in the mud was a daily occurrence. Inslee said there was lots of torn up equipment from being stuck that added major expense for many farmers and cutters this harvest.

"We've got a lot of fall crops in that were planted late (due to harvest being so late)," Inslee said. The possibility of an early freeze and the late crops concern him.


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