Area producers are reporting from 130 to 250 bushels per acre of corn, and Seward County Extension agentMike Hanson said harvest could be complete as early as this weekend. Courtesy photo
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
Dry conditions continue to persist across Southwest Kansas. Temperatures have cooled off slightly with the arrival of fall, with morning lows dipping into the 30s and 40S, but afternoon highs continue to reach 80s and 90s, with a recent high of 97 reported in Garden City.
Despite this, local and state agricultural officials have reported the majority of this year’s corn crop has been harvested, and Seward County Extension agent Mike Hanson believes local farmers could be done with cutting as early as this weekend.
“I went out in the county, and I think I counted seven corn circles left,” he said. “It’s just about done about a month earlier than last year. The heat that we had at the end of July, all of August, September sure had a lot to do with it.”
Hanson said corn yields vary in the area from about 130 to 250 bushels per acre, but most of the crops have produced 180 to 190 bushel corn, which he noted was slightly below average.
“I guess we’re fortunate to get what we got because of the heat we had,” he said.
Producers in the Sunflower State are harvesting other crops as well, including milo, which Hanson said usually doesn’t begin until early October, but half of the crops have already been cut in Southwest Kansas.
“A lot of times, you’ve got to wait for a freeze to kill it and let it dry down,” he said. “Everything seems like this year compared to others, we’re at least two to three weeks ahead. Milo harvest is probably a month ahead of what we see.”
Up to this point, the quality of corn harvested in the area seems to be good, according to Hanson.
“Take a trip around Southwest Kansas, and you see a lot of mountains and piles on the ground,” he said.
In August, officials with the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service forecasted a record corn crop for the state, with production as high as 629.2 million bushels, surpassing the 2009 record crop of 598.3 million bushels. Kansas growers planted 4.7 million acres of corn this year, the highest acreage for corn in the state since 1936.
“Corn acreage is up,” Hanson said. “A lot of corn was apparently left in the elevators from last year plus the new crop. Wheat’s been in the elevators, and they haven’t got it out. That’s one of the reasons you’re seeing quite a bit of corn on the ground.”
Hanson said much of the corn produced is used at ethanol plants and for cattle and hog feed.
“If the ethanol industry remains profitable, they’re going to use a lot of corn between the ones they’ve got here and Garden City,” he said.
Hanson said despite the record numbers, Kansas has a corn deficit.
“We’ve got to bring in a lot of it from Iowa and Nebraska to feed our cattle and supply the ethanol plant,” he said. “We use more than what we can produce.”
Hanson said the price of corn is a decent one at this point in time.
“I think a lot of people contracted some corn last year,” he said. “Just the availability of having the market here is a big part of it.”
Hanson said wheat remains the king crop in Kansas.
“We grow more than any other state,” he said. “You get up in Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, they’re the big production for corn. They’re all dryland because of the rainfall amounts they get.”
A price quote on corn from Liberal’s Equity Exchange showed Thursday producers could get $4.58 per bushel from the grain. Hanson said prices for the grain climbed somewhat this summer.
“We saw the last part of August, first half of September prices climb really quick – almost $1 a bushel,” he said. “It has come off some since then.”
Statewide, Hanson said the price of corn was at $4.35 on Monday, and that fell significantly from the $4.96 price tag about a week and a half ago. As of Thursday, Hanson said Sublette officials reported $4.65 a bushel corn.
National ag leaders have reported Russian wheat production may plunge by as much as 33 percent this year after the most severe drought in 50 years harmed crops. Output could fall by as much as 20 million tons, and exports could plunge by as much as 78 percent.
On Sept. 10, the USDA projected Russia would produce 42.5 million tons of wheat and export 3.5 million tons. Hanson said this could force prices up, and some marketing officials say producers could be looking at $10 a bushel wheat in the U.S.
“Right now, we’re under $6,” he said. “I think if you see that $10 wheat price, you’re going to see corn, soybeans, milo, everything follow it. I don’t think we’re going to see $8, $9 corn.”
A few producers in Kansas have started harvesting cotton, and Hanson said local crops are some of the best he has ever seen.
“We might get that out before Christmas this year,” he said.
About 24 percent of the state’s milo crop has been harvested, and Hanson said farmers are reporting some outstanding yields on dryland grain milo this year.
“I think a lot of it had to do with when they planted the seed,” he said. “It filled out a lot better than the later planted stuff.”