Farmer Focus: Spare a thought for the Kansas growers

If ever there was a year that served as a reminder of why I don’t do any row crops (arable), 2018 had to be it.

The drought finally broke and gave us much-needed relief to grow some fall grazing and get some much-needed water.

However, for our neighbours still trying to farm crops it has been complete misery. Kansas is the number one state in the US for wheat production.

The stuff is almost a weed around here. However, the variety that we produce is hard red winter wheat that ideally is planted in September and early October after beans and corn are harvested.

See also: Drought cost to UK dairy revealed as production catches up

There is just one problem though – there are still acres and acres of soya beans in the fields. Not only are we getting moisture, it has also been much colder than normal and the harvest has been at a standstill for more than a month.

The soya beans are shattering in the field because of the moisture and many are purple because of the drought stress, meaning severe price deductions when product is sold.

At time of writing, the current cash price is $290 (£225) per metric tonne to start – well below the world market. I have several neighbours who have had loads of beans rejected, leaving them with no options at all.

It seems it was easier to sell the Chinese poor soya beans when they had empty containers, which had just off-loaded crappy plastic junk, that were making the return trip.

When you run into a grouchy farmer, the other debate you hear is ‘how late is too late to drill wheat?’ 

It seems the old-timers with few bills to pay are the ones who are just going to sit out of the wheat crop this year. Younger growers are maybe going to try it.

We are now several weeks past the subsidised insurance plant dates so it could really get interesting to watch from the sidelines. 

Meanwhile, I am trying to keep my head down while I feed all their corn crops that we chopped for silage in June when the drought and heat killed the plants as they stood.

Daniel Mushrush is a Farmer Focus writer from Kansas. Read his biography.