Purchase photos

Farmers finding no surprises

6/24/2013

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

LIEBENTHAL -- Farmers found exactly what they were expecting when combines started entering fields in area counties.

Now they have proof the drought, and in some cases hail, took its toll -- dramatic in some instances -- on the wheat.

West of Schoenchen, Jayme Zimmerman was piloting his Case combine through a field.

He wasn't surprised at the low yields.

"This is 50 percent hailed out," he said.

His field was in the path of a storm that carried with it plenty of hail, in Zimmerman's case nickel-sized hail, pushed along by crop-damaging winds.

But he picked up 1.5 inches of rain from the storm.

"It's not as bad over here," he said of the conditions near the road, "but you get down a ways, it just mowed it."

He reluctantly put a number on how it was producing.

"This right here, with the hail and everything, 15," Zimmerman said of the number of bushels per acre the field was yielding. "Probably 10 to 15."

Summer-fallowed fields, those allowed to lay idle and soak up moisture, are faring better, he said.

"The continuous didn't fare so well," he said.

That's what Leland Schaffer was seeing as well, as Zimmerman Harvesting out of Schoenchen finished up one field and then made a dusty, wind-blow trek to the next.

"I don't know the yield," Schaffer said, but he was pleased the wheat had test weights slightly more than the benchmark of 60 pounds per bushel. "It wasn't very good."

He's hoping the overall average from the nearly 500 acres he still has to cut will come in at approximately 20 bushels per acre.

He wasn't expecting a lot from the 30-acre field northwest of Liebenthal.

"This wheat has never been rained on from the time we planted until it headed and filled," Schaffer said. "So you can't expect much."

The only rain, he explained, came just before the wheat went into the ground -- rain that helped get the wheat up and growing.

After the wheat headed out, he said, there were "three little rains."

"There might have been one little rain on it last fall after it came up," Schaffer said of how dry conditions have been in the Liebenthal area.

Still, he considers himself lucky there's anything to cut.

"I think years ago it would not do anything, but we farm a lot different," Schaffer said. "There's a dry area right through here. And it has been the last three years."