Jun 30, 2020 11:01 AM

Farmers pleasantly surprised with wheat yields, but prices low

Posted Jun 30, 2020 11:01 AM

By CRISTINA JANNEY
Hays Post

Farmers have been pleasantly surprised by yields during this year's wheat harvest, but low prices will likely mean another tough year for farmers, the president of Midland Marketing said Monday.

Farmers have reported yields of anywhere from 30 to 60 bushels per acre, Kevin Royer, Midland Marketing president/CEO, said. However, this depended on variety and when the wheat was planted.

Stacy Campbell, Ellis County Extension agricultural agent, reported similar yields of about 40 to 50 bushels per acre.

Campbell reported test weights at about 60 or above, which means most farmers won't be docked at the elevator. Moisture percentages have been about 10 percent to 13 percent, also good for farmers.

The global wheat harvest is projected to be at an all-time high. A surplus on the market coupled with a drop in demand due to COVID-19 is driving down prices, Royer said.

The price of cash wheat was only about $4 per bushel as of Monday, which is weak, Royer said.

Campbell said current prices are not sustainable for farmers over the long term.

"Even at 50 bushels an acre at $4 per bushel, that's $200 an acre," Campbell said, "and many farmers have more than $200 an acre in their crop."

A combine harvests wheat at the Hays city limits last week. Cristina Janney/Hays Post
A combine harvests wheat at the Hays city limits last week. Cristina Janney/Hays Post

Cold weather late in the season did not have as much impact on the wheat as expected, but this also depended on variety and how far along the crops were when the area had a cold snap in April, Royer said.

A dryer year than average year has also not significantly damaged the area's wheat, Royer said. As of Monday morning, Hays had received 9.65 inches of rain year-to-date compared to an average rainfall of 14.54 by the end of June, according the K-State Extension Research Station in Hays.

Warm, dry, breezy weather will likely mean wheat harvest in Ellis County will be complete by the end of the week. Cristina Janney/Hays Post
Warm, dry, breezy weather will likely mean wheat harvest in Ellis County will be complete by the end of the week. Cristina Janney/Hays Post

Rains within the last few weeks have not significantly harmed area wheat, but it has helped fall crops, such as milo, corn and soybeans.

The trade war has affected farmers over the last several years. 

"If we don't have the exports, you don't have the demand, so the pricing is not going to be real good on those either," Royer said of fall crops. 

He said this year might be a tough year all around for farmers.

Farmers have struggled for years to find enough workers to assist in getting the wheat out of the fields and to elevators. However, COVID-19 has not appeared to had a significant effect on harvest, Campbell said.

As of Monday, Campbell said the wheat harvest in Ellis County about 58 percent complete. If hot, dry, breezy weather continues, he said wheat harvest in this area should be complete by the end of the week.