Area farmers predict poor yields for wheat
By Tim Leeds
Dale Miller said he expects to harvest his winter wheat with a yield of about 10 bushels an acre. He doesn't expect much more for his spring wheat either, although he said a little more rain might raise that yield some.
"We're working on next year already, that's all we can do," said Miller, who farms out of Gildford.
The National Weather Service reported that at 6 a.m. today the Havre airport had received .94 inches of rain in June, compared with the month-to-date average of 1.08 inches. Light rain continued to fall through the morning and showers are predicted through Tuesday. The 6 a.m. report still fell short more than 2 inches of the yearly average, with 2.51 inches in 2001 compared with an average of 5.23 inches
Les Kaercher, who farms west of Havre, said today he also has low expectations. He said he's not sure yet how the winter wheat harvest will turn out.
"It's hurt, I just don't know how bad or where it's going to go," he said.
Kaercher said he still has some hope for the spring wheat, but unless the area gets a good rain, it will probably go downhill this week. And there isn't a lot of rain in the forecast.
Gregg Carlson of the Northern Agricultural Research Center said the situation varies greatly from area to area depending on how much rain it has received and when it received it.
"It's a really localized kind of thing," he said.
Miller, who farms both north and south of Gildford, said it's much drier north of the small community than south of it.
Miller said he traveled west recently, and it looks like much of Liberty, Toole and west Hill counties have mostly been left out of the rain that other parts of the state have been getting lately.
He said that for most of his grain the rain is too late. The stand is pretty well established and the harvest will be minimal. He said he expects no hay to be cut.
More rain might help the spring wheat. The stand is pretty well set, he said, but moisture could help with yield and quality.
Carlson said what happens depends a lot on what the weather is like for the rest of the month. The combination of high temperatures and high wind with the low amounts of rain the last few months has increased the drought problem.
"Now it's cooler and these little shots like this can't bring crops back, but it's buying us a little time."
Kaercher said the rain and cooler weather is helping, but that it's only temporary.
"I'm concerned that when it turns hot we don't have any reserves," he said.
To top off the problems with the crops' yields, he is also concerned about the quality of the crops.
"At this stage I think our quality is going to be bad too," he said.
Carlson is also concerned about that. He said there are some stress problems already showing in some winter wheat crops, and he doesn't have a lot of hope for good protein premiums. But the weather could change that.
"If it's like this all month it could really surprise you," Carlson said.