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Crops

Summer moisture results in excellent dryland wheat yields

Written by Christy Hemken
Southeast Wyoming – According to those involved with wheat production in the southeast corner of Wyoming, this year’s crop was exceptional, if not the best yields ever.
    “The 2009 harvest is much above average, as far as we know in Laramie County,” says Keith Kennedy of the Wyoming Wheat Commission. “It’s above the state average by a fair amount, with some exceptional yields.”
    Scott Zimmerman of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, who lives in Pine Bluffs, says, “This may be the best dryland wheat harvest ever in regard to yield. Most producers that didn’t have hail damage had a phenomenal crop.”
    “Some of the area producers had the best crop they’ve ever had, while some were about average to a little above,” says Matt Hahn of Pine Bluffs Feed and Grain in Pine Bluffs. “Of course, we’ve been so long without even an average crop that anything seemed really good. It’s been 15 years since we’ve had a good crop.”
    Hahn says the really good yields ranged from 65 to 90 bushels per acre on dryland, down to 35 to 45 bushels per acre on the low end.
    All yield ranges were affected by hail damage, which is typical for the area. Irrigated wheat produced a normal crop.
    “Some really good moisture,” says Kennedy. “All it takes is good, timely moisture to grow a good crop. Some of the yields in Laramie County could be once-in-a-lifetime, depending on how things shape out.”
    “The moisture came at the perfect times, and many areas of southeast Wyoming have had more than their annual average precipitation during the months of June and July alone, and that’s what really helped the wheat yields,” says Zimmerman.
    Although moisture can cause problems if it comes at the wrong times, he says it came before the grain was ripe, avoiding disease and most harvest problems.
    Despite the high yields, Zimmerman comments that won’t necessarily translate into a good income year because of the way wheat prices have fallen over the last two months.
    Kennedy agrees, saying the market is down quite a bit from where it’s been over the past year, but he notes it’s pretty good compared to the last four or five, although fertilizer and fuel are up significantly from five years ago.
    “The price has gone down considerably from what it was last year,” says Hahn. “Even though the yields were down last year, they received the same amount of money as they are this year.”
    Concerning the market’s future, he says a lot of people speculate it will find the bottom, but Hahn thinks it will gradually drift lower because of the world market. He says some producers are upset by the low prices, and have refused to sell. “That will only create problems as we carry more wheat into next year. We have to get cleaned out of it,” he says.
    Concerning the 2010 crop, Zimmerman says the extra moisture in the soil profile will help immensely in the production of another good crop. “In most cases the soil profile is close to full, and the 2010 crop, which is being planted right now, will have an excellent start for hopefully a good crop next year.”
    Hahn agrees, saying, “The next crop should have a pretty good moisture profile to plant into.”
    Christy Hemken is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..