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Next Generation Farming

Wheat Yields Pop, But…

Low protein levels are sinking basis.

Harvest finally wrapped up on our farm last week, but this year was no ordinary harvest. Yields on our farm reached over 80 bu/acre for some of our best fields – about double our normal yield. I guess all that troublesome rain finally paid off!

One of our custom harvesters, Chad Brink from Minnesota, had some encouraging words for us, remarking that one field of ours that made 86 bu/acre was the most consistent field he'd ever seen this year with the yield monitor stuck at 86 the entire way through. (If you're looking for a great harvest crew, give Chad a call at (218) 244-6538. We guarantee his work! Not to mention, he's a heck of a guy. Chad is also a rising star in the custom cutting business and even made the local news. You can read about him and his wife, Lisa, in this story in the Hutchinson News.)

Other farmers in our area did just as well or better. While I was in the doctor's office last week to get treated for a horrible case of the stomach flu, my doctor passed along a local rumor that some fields even got over 100 bu/acre. We definitely won't be seeing a year like this anytime soon! With such big yields, our local elevator was filled to the brim and resorted to storing much of it on the ground.

Custom cutters Chad and Lisa Brink of Remer, Minn., on their first harvest.

It doesn't stop there Not only were yields astounding, but test weights were also unbelievable. Test weights on our farm were 62-64 pounds/bu, which compares to a standard bushel of 60 pounds. All that rain we got just days before harvest gave the crop that final jolt of moisture it needed to pack on more pounds.

Some of our wheat was noticeably more yellow in color due to lack of protein.

All the high yields and test weights, though, don't amount to much when protein is so low. Hard red winter wheat normally has a deep, dark red color. This year, the wheat was noticeably more yellow – a tell-tale sign of a lack of protein (see photo). At the elevator in Dighton, protein was in the 11-11.3% range this year. That's not good news if flour mills and exporters are reluctant to buy anything under 12%.

With all this low-protein wheat piling on the ground, our basis has sunk to the abyss. Locally, we are now at -$1.45, compared to our 5-year average of -$0.45.

If we're not already at a new record low, we're getting pretty darn close!

Now I'm scratching my head and wondering if this was the year to come back and start farming.

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