US. Wheat harvest may set record


Farmers are always hopeful that a bad crop year will be followed by a good harvest the following year.

Last year’s wheat crop had problems in northwestern Ohio, with poor quality because of wet conditions. This year’s wheat harvest featured high yields and “excellent” quality, pleasing farmers and agriculture officials.

It may be a record-setting harvest in Hancock County, too.

Soft red winter wheat grown in the area is used for cakes, pastries, flat breads and crackers.

Ohio is the leading producer of soft red winter wheat, and northwestern Ohio is the “bread basket” for the state’s winter wheat production.

“A conservative estimate of average yield is in the high 70s” in bushels per acre, said Ed Lentz, Ohio State University Extension educator for agriculture and natural resources. But it could be higher, he said, because there are reports of many “high yield” fields, some reportedly over 100 bushels per acre.

“There’s a pretty good chance we may set a new county high (for yields),” Lentz said.

Early on, there was potential for a good crop, he said, because of timely planting at the end of September last year. Showers in November assisted the plants, and cold temperatures didn’t arrive until Jan. 1.

Winter was not severe, as January and February had little water, or snow cover, then a warm March helped the wheat growth before a wet April assisted. There was little stress on the plant this year, except in areas where standing water affected the growth.

There also was little disease, with some “variety specific” fields having “stripe rust.” The disease typically produces yellow or orange blister-like lesions that are arranged in stripes. The disease is most common on leaves but can affect other portions of the plant.

Fungicide was sprayed on those fields early.

Overall, area wheat was better quality than last year, Lentz said. It was harvested a week or two ahead of the normal harvest, which typically starts around July 4.

Once started, the harvest went quickly with most fields done in a week.

Last year, Cecil Boes, a Cass Township farmer, said he had the longest wheat harvest he had experienced in 45 years because of wet conditions. He called it a “nightmare” harvest.

He had much better results this year.

“It was an excellent wheat harvest,” he said. “Some of the best wheat we’ve had in years. Moisture content average was about 16 percent and test weight was between 60-63 pounds per bushel.”

Wheat bushels are discounted by grain elevators if there is over 13.5 percent moisture content and under 58 pounds test weight.

Boes said he saw no disease or crop damage this year.

He said last year’s harvested wheat is still being used for cattle feed because of its poor quality.

He harvested about 500 acres of wheat this year. He is still baling straw, which is good quality and “lots of it,” Boes said.

Area grain elevators reported a good wheat harvest, too.

Robin Roth, office manager/grain accountant at Heritage Cooperative, Arlington, said it was a “really good wheat harvest” without plant disease or damage. She said the average test weight was 58 pounds per bushel and average moisture content was 15.2 percent.

Yields in southern Hancock and northern Hardin counties ranged from 79 to more than 100 bushels per acre, Roth said.

“Things seemed to run smoothly for this area,” she said. “We started on June 30 and had most of it done by July 3.”

Farmers were pleased with yields and quality, she said.

Mitch Welty, grain manager at Legacy Cooperative, said, “Overall, a very good wheat harvest.”

Test weight at Legacy ranged from 54 to 63 pounds per bushel and moisture content ranged from 11.5 to 16 percent, he said.

“Overall, the wheat has been very clean with the dockage being well under 1 percent,” he said. “We have only had a couple of rain events, which never produced the sprout issues that we saw in last year’s crop. The weather during … flowering was ideal.”

“This year we did not see any vomotoxin,” he said. Also known as Deoxynivalenol (DON), the mycotoxin may be produced in wheat infected by head blight or head scab, which has been a problem during the past three to five years.

Yields in the northern and eastern portions of Hancock County were above average, with 70 to 100 bushels per acre reported, Welty said.

The crop’s cash price has not kept pace.

On July 5, the first business day after the holiday, the cash price was $4.57. In 2015, the July 6 price was $5.70 per bushel; July 7, 2014 was $5.95 per bushel; and July 5, 2013 was $6.46.

The wheat acreage in Hancock County has held steady in recent years after a decline from past years. County farmers used to plant more than 40,000 acres of wheat annually. But there were 23,000 acres planted and 22,000 harvested in 2015; 23,500 acres planted and 21,800 harvested in 2014; and 27,700 planted and 26,700 harvested in 2013.


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