Drought takes its tolls on wheat crops

By Chelle Delaney

The hard red winter wheat that Quay and neighboring counties are known for growing has been one of the slimmest crops since the 1950s, said Johnny Beevers, manager of the Melrose Grain and Elevator Co., Inc.

“Last year, which was a good year, we had 40 million pounds. This year we’ve got about 2.5 million pounds,” he said.

Meanwhile, farmers’ second crop, milo, should be planted between now and July. And if the drought doesn’t ease up, “That’s going to be a goose egg, too,” Beevers said.

Grain prices are higher. “And they need to be,” he said. Wheat prices have not kept up with inflation and the rising costs of equipment, and fuel, he added.

On Thursday, Melrose was paying $4.47 per bushel. That’s a good price for the farmers, but as Beevers pointed out: “It’s not good if you don’t have any wheat to sell.”

At ConAgra’s Peavey Co. in Clovis, there have been fewer farmers bringing in wheat, said merchandiser Ben Mergen.
The average yield is about 10 bushels compared to
last year when it was about 25 bushels per acre.
Although the price per bushel has picked up this year over last year, Mergen said.

Based on the Kansas City Board of Trade, at the close of business on Thursday, prices reached a high of $4.58 and closed at at low of $4.54. Last year, the high was $3.36 and the low was $3.20.

Because of the slim wheat crop, those who gotten any yield have kept their crops for seed, hopeful for a better and wetter winter, or they’ve just grazed out their fields.