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One bright spot in a tough 2020 season

By Staff | Aug 29, 2020

Sue Sitter/PCT A semi unloads grain at Rugby Farmers Union Elevator.

Area farmers and ranchers hope good preliminary numbers for this year’s harvest will be one bright spot in a tough 2020 season.

David Holzwarth of the Rugby Farmers’ Union Elevator said good yields are “kind of our hope. The later grain looks like it’s going to yield a little bit more than the early stuff did.”

“Right now, the wheat crop seems to be a little higher in protein,” Holzwarth said. “Around the Rugby area, it seems like we’re getting yields into the 45 to 50 bushels per acre area. Hopefully, the later crops will come in around 55 to 60 (bushels per acre).”

Holzwarth added, “Prices are still, as everyone knows, well depressed yet. There’s some hope on the horizon that maybe we can find some new demand, or as with everything, we’re oversupplying today.”

Holzwarth estimated about 40 percent of the harvest has come in to the elevator so far. “Most of it is going into the bins (due to depressed prices),” Holzwarth noted. “It’ll be interesting to see what happens at the end.”

“There are some 20s to 75 (bushels per acre) figures for some areas that got some rain in the northwest part of the state or northwest of our territory,” Holzwarth said.

“We’re just starting to get into the later cutting,” Holzwarth noted. “We haven’t seen a lot of wheat just because of the prices. They’re depressed. But what we’re seeing so far has been high protein and decent quality stuff,” he said of the hard red spring wheat coming into the grain elevator.

“Soybeans obviously look good if we can just catch some rains here,” Holzwarth added. “That’s a later crop, so it didn’t quite take the stress of June, when we didn’t have any rain.”

“These last rains here in July really helped out to top off these beans,” Holzwarth said. “Beans are good and tall, it looks like for the most part. But, we can definitely use some more rain for the beans and corn that are in the area. Dry beans are doing pretty well,” he added. “We’re hearing some things that’ll be pretty decent for them.”

Both Holzwarth and former agriculture instructor Larry Sitter said the dryer June weather wasn’t good news for this year’s hay crop. Some farmers experienced delays in planting and other activity due to an early blizzard last fall, which left crops unharvested in fields until spring.

“Where I live, it’s mostly ranching,” said Sitter, who retired from teaching ag classes at TGU and Rugby High Schools.

“There aren’t any crops until you get farther away. It’s pretty sandy here, so if you open up too much ground, the wind blows it away,” he said of the land near his small farm in McHenry County.

Sitter said crops in his county include “wheat, corn, sunflowers and a little farther away, some people raise safflower and barley, some rye and soybeans.”

“I haven’t heard a lot (about the harvest), but I’ve seen corn that looks like it’s doing pretty well. Soybeans are still green,” he said.

Sitter said he farms near land owned by his cousins, who are combining on their land south and west of Granville. “They’ve just started on the third field I can see,” Sitter said

“I have pasture and hay land, Sitter said, however, he spends most of his time in retirement with what he called “my wife’s 30-year honey-do list.”

“I didn’t get a lot of things done when I was teaching because I was on a 12-month contract and I did more with other people’s kids than I did with my own,” Sitter said.

“So, what my wife wanted me to do a lot of times, I never got done. So, I’ve got to catch up,” he added with a laugh.

“The hay crop is thin,” Sitter noted. “It didn’t get rain when they should’ve so the hay crop has been pretty sparse for the most part. You don’t get as many bales or tonnage per acre as in the past, so that’s not good.”

Sitter said ranchers “got some hay, but a lot of them aren’t going to have the amount of bales they need for the amount of livestock they have now. You go to the grocery store and you pay a lot for meat, but the ranchers aren’t getting that money,” he added.

Sitter said ranchers and farmers still have concerns about their harvest. “They have to worry about that white combine coming through before they finish their harvest hail.”

“There’s been some hail, but I haven’t heard about any crop damage around here,” he said. “In Iowa, they had that big storm that flattened the corn crops.”

Weather forecasts for Pierce County called for a slight chance of thunderstorms last week, but farmers stayed busy in their fields, making the most of the sunshine.

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