Harvest in western Kansas
Tuesday, July 7
Gem is a small town of 60 people, but the farmers in the area do "big" things. When harvest barely began, the elevator took in 85,000 bushels of wheat. On a good day, the elevator takes in 110,000 bushels to 115,000 bushels of wheat. Gem elevator manager John Strecker hopes to take in 800,000 to 900,000 bushels of wheat this year.
John and his wife, Marietta, have been managing the elevator for 18 years and have seen both good and bad crops bless this area. When asked when the area received the best crop, he replied with 1999. The wheat crop yielded between 50 and 60 bushels per acre and the elevator received 5 to 6 million bushels of grain.
This year, the crop is even better. But, since this area grows more milo and dry land corn, there is less wheat crop. As far as yields, this year is the best year he has had overall. The yields are ranging from 50 to 70 bushels per acre on summer fallow crop. Strecker said that the area received moisture in the fall and spring including two good rains in both April and March. The rain blessed both the fall and the summer fallow crop.
Strecker added that the cool nights allow farmers to raise good crops in the area--especially corn. This year, the crop is so good that there have not been any dockages at the elevator.
"We have good farmers in this area," said Strecker. "They do things right and follow the book. When crops need spraying, they do it. If we get rain, we get a good crop out here."
I can't say I disagree with him; the first quarter of wheat that Hoffman Harvesting cut averaged around 64 bushels per acre with test weights of 58 to 62.
That doesn't mean that there hasn't been a bad crop year here. This area receives an average of 20 inches of rain annually. Strecker remembers 1995 to be the driest year. He said the area received 7 to 10 inches of rain. It was very dry, which prevented the crop from reaching its maximum potential.
When Strecker began managing the Gem elevator, it was a wooden elevator and had not been used for 5 to 6 years. Apparently, the elevator had two tornados that took away the elevator and prompted the past owners to not rebuild. Today, this successful elevator is part of eight other elevators Strecker manages, and holds up to 900,000 bushels of wheat each year.
Rain has definitely not been an issue this year. Last night we got rained out again. With just a little work left to do at this stop, our crew is destined to be split up for a couple of days. Charles moved to Goodland, Kan., yesterday and more of our crew will move to our next stop.
Thursday, July 9
Hoffman Harvesting wrapped up harvest in Colby, Kan., around dinnertime last night and we moved part of our equipment to Brewster, Kan., to harvest. This afternoon, we finished up in the Brewster area and moved to Kanarado. The wheat in Kanarado is a little wet this afternoon, so we are unsure when or if we will be able to harvest.
For the past two days, we have been split up. One of our combines is in Goodland, Kan. The wheat in the Goodland area is yielding between 70 to 80 bushels per acre. The test weights are in the 60s. The wheat is all-around good in western Kansas.
Monday, July 13
Harvest in Goodland has been wonderful. Farmers in the area are thankful to receive the right amount of precipitation at the right times. Locals said it was dry, but right when the wheat was planted and rain was really needed--it rained. The area had a dry winter but received a good germinating rain as the wheat was heading out. With the perfect amount of rainfall, the areas crop is yielding between the 60 to 85 bushels per acre. Rain has been the only downfall to the harvest this season. For the past three days, rain has prevented us from harvesting until around 6 to 7 p.m. The moisture has also made for early nights. The combination of the excellent crop and the moisture has made progress slow. We are almost finished and need to be because our next stop in Limon, Colo. is almost ready.
Jada Bulgin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.