July 22, 2008
Farmers Cutting ‘Quality’ Wheat Crop
By CHRIS KICK
By CHRIS KICK
WOOSTER -- Most of the area's wheat crop appears to be harvested, and some area farmers have already baled straw from the remaining stubble and planted a follow-up crop, such as soybeans or alfalfa.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that 99 percent of Ohio's winter wheat crop was ripe, identical to last year. Forty-three percent of the winter wheat was harvested last week, compared to 94 percent this time last year.
But mostly-sunny weather the past week has helped local farmers catch up on the harvest.
Will Spreng, an agronomist and field consultant for Loudonville Farmer's Equity, which serves farmers in Wayne, Holmes and Ashland Counties, figured about 75 percent of the local wheat crop had been harvested as of Thursday.
As of Thursday, Spreng figured the mill had received about 50,000 bushels of wheat. He said the quality was mostly good, with moisture percentages between 13-18 percent.
If the moisture is too high, and if the wheat is stored in a metal wagon for too long, the potential for mold is increased, he said. Spreng said if wheat must be stored for long periods of time it should be well aired, by transporting it from one wagon to another, or in some other way causing aeration.
"It doesn't take long for it to heat up in a wagon," said Mark Trenchard, a grain merchandiser for Town & Country Co-Op.
Trenchard figured Town & Country's Smithville location had received about 800,000 bushels of wheat as of mid-last week. He said the mill will probably take in more wheat this year than last year, but was unsure how much more.
This year's Ohio wheat crop was forecasted to be 67 bushels per acre, an increase of 4 bushels over last year.
Most area markets are buying wheat for more than $6 a bushel, among the highest prices in at least the last 40 years. But with the cost of growing wheat on the rise, the margin of profit may not be as high as anticipated.
"We're not gaining anything over the last 40 years," said Clayton Arnholt, who grows wheat south of Wooster.
Arnholt, who also does custom combining, said this year's crop is a good one and figured his own wheat produced 65 bushels an acre, almost what the state forecasted. The market is good, he said, but increases in the cost of diesel fuel and fertilizer have taken away the profit potential for him and most farmers.
Several of the area's feed mills have remained open later into the night than usual, to accommodate the wheat farmers are harvesting. Trenchard said Town & Country of Mansfield has been staying open until 7 p.m., compared to the normal closing time of 4:30 p.m.
He said if wheat must be stored on a wagon or truck after it's harvested, it's important to keep it covered because processors are increasingly concerned about any foreign material, such as bird droppings, which can significantly reduce the intended use of the wheat and its value.
Farmers who don't have the time or equipment for this year's grain harvest still have options for custom harvesting. Arnholt said he is still adding custom acreage for the season. He can be contacted at 330-264-6326.
Reporter Chris Kick can be reached at 330-287-1635 or e-mail [email protected]
Originally published by By CHRIS KICK Staff Writer.
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