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Thursday, July 11, 2013 12:04 AM


Staff Writer

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DELPHOS — Since the beginning of July, Van Wert, Allen and Putnam counties have seen much higher than average rainfall totals which has made it nearly impossible for farmers to harvest their winter wheat.

Van Wert County OSU-Extension Educator Dr. Curtis Young reports the winter wheat is ready to be harvested and the biggest concern for the farmers is getting into the fields. Running huge equipment into the saturated fields will be a challenge.

“Farmers risk damaging the soils by creating ruts and compacting soils,” Young explained. “Also, because the seed heads are so ripe, the grains are falling out — ground shatter — a condition that will decrease the farmers’ yields.”

In addition, Young said farmers will have to navigate their combines through fields and not smack the kernels out with the reel on the machinery.

Young said the weather forecast for the next few days into the weekend looks to be drier than in the recent past. He anticipates a lot of action (harvesting) this weekend.

“Yields have the potential to be very respectable since the grain matured naturally and filled in properly this year,” he said. “Test weights are holding good as long as there is no cycling of wet/dry weather.”

Another concern for wheat crop is a fungus called Head Scab (vomitoxin), produced by fungi (molds) growing on grain or grain products.

“Vomitoxin is a stable toxin that has ill effects on livestock — predominantly swine — if it is present in feeds,” Young said.

Allen County Farm Service Agency Executive Director David P. Nusbaum reports that there is little wheat off in his county since farmers cannot get into their fields.

“There are concerns for the fungus vomitoxin since it lowers the quality of the grade and in turn, decreases the crop values quite a bit,” Nusbaum stated.

Nusbaum said another important consideration is crop insurance for such instances.

“Farmers should contact their local crop insurance agent,” he said. “They will need a record from the grain elevator to make a claim should they take a loss.”

Putnam County OSU Extension Educator James Hoorman said the county has seen a scattered mix of rainfall totals occurring over 10 of the last 16 days.

“Miller City did not get much rain and Findlay received up to 4 1/2 inches,” Hoorman reported.

He said earlier in the season the nearly perfect conditions for wheat growing (cool temperatures, plenty of moisture, low disease), wheat yields and wheat quality were expected to be outstanding (85-bushel). However, wheat is being lost in the field and the quality is quickly declining. With high humidity and continued rain, wheat is starting to sprout or even drop out of the heads, causing both a decrease in quality and in yield.

“We had potential for good yields but now, wheat crops are sopping wet,” Hoorman stated. “Most grain moisture may be running 20-30 percent and will require heat to dry out.”

Hoorman said that combines operate most efficiently and with less kernel damage when grain moisture is between 13-20 percent. If wheat is harvested much above 14 percent, it needs to be dried relatively quickly to prevent sprouting, molding and subsequent spoilage while in storage.

“Even if they [the farmers] get it off, they will have to dry it down,” Hoorman detailed. “Wheat packs in a bin much denser than corn or beans and the high humidity also adds time to the process.”

The last few growing seasons have taken quite a toll on farmers and their wheat crops.

“Low wheat prices will force more and more farmers to grow corn and beans,” Hoorman said.

A representative for United Equity, Inc., in Delphos reported they have not received any winter wheat yet. They said if any farmers have had the opportunity to harvest wheat, right now they have it in their bin drying out.


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