As grain enters the bin, price is a concern

Farm Forum

Hot temperatures and recent rainfall have pushed spring wheat harvest ahead of schedule in central areas of the state.

June conditions were mostly dry and arid with a few rainfalls that were scattered throughout the region.

With below average wheat prices, many farmers may hold onto their wheat in hopes that those prices will increase.

Travis Antonsen, producer marketing manager for Wheat Growers, said the hot temperatures are pushing wheat harvests two weeks ahead of the anticipated harvest time.

“Spring harvest kicked into gear at most of our locations. Winter wheat harvest is pretty well done in South Dakota,” Antonsen said.

While the quality of spring wheat has been good so far, Antonsen said yields are all over the board and less than in past years.

“June’s hot temperatures took some of the top off of our spring wheat yield. Whoever got rain in June were pretty decent,” he said.

On the upside, the dry conditions cut down the prevalence of crop-damaging vomitoxin and ergot in this year’s spring wheat.

“This year, everything we’ve seen so far has been really good quality. Protein has been all over the board,” Antonsen said.

Antonsen said the expected yields are 50 to 60 bushels per acre, though it’s too early to know for sure.

The Andover location reported a cash price of $4.35 per bushel for 14 percent protein wheat on July 22, Antonsen said.

And some producers are expected to hold onto their harvested wheat until they can get a better idea of how their fall crops will turn out.

“With the way prices are, I think a lot of guys are content with tucking it away — putting it the bin and see what happens,” Antonsen said.

Terry Brandt, grain manager at North Central Farmers Elevator in Warner, said the few loads of wheat that are coming in will be bagged and stored.

“We’re trying to hold as much of our wheat as possible, so we’re putting it in every nook and cranny we can find. There’s not market for it. We’re going to start putting them in bags and hope for the best. We still have quite a bit of last year’s, so we’re hoping we see a window of opportunity to get rid of it in February or March,” Brandt said.

Brandt said the North Central Farmers Elevator in Bowdle will be bagging up to 1 million bushels of wheat.

Each year there are less customers growing wheat in the area, Brandt said.

“It’s just got less every year. Everyone is corn and soybeans,” he said.

Protein levels are down from what Brandt would like to see but the number of bushels are going well number wise, he said.

Brandt expects soybean and corn crops in the area to be in good shape for harvest.

“Around here it looks pretty good. In the Hoven area, it’s really dry out there,” Brandt said.

Daren Gisi, manager of Wheat Growers in Mansfield and Cresbard, said the Mansfield location has only taken in five loads of spring wheat.

Gisi said producers to the south have started harvesting spring wheat crops earlier than those to the north.

And while producers had luck with bountiful winter wheat yields, the protein quality is much higher in spring wheat.

“(It’s) good quality. Kernels are kind of small. The protein is up there — it’s good-looking wheat,” Gisi said of the spring wheat.

He said yields were at about 61 bushels per acre.

On July 22, Gisi said the Cresbard location had yet to receive a load of spring wheat.

Spring wheat harvest is going along steady at Concord Grain, west of Aberdeen.

General manager Pat Tracy said the facility has a storage capacity of 4.5 million bushels, with the ability to take in 60,000 bushels per hour and load out 80,000 bushels per hour.

“We’re seeing a lot of variance on protein,” Tracy said.

The protein percentages of spring wheat have ranged from 13 to 17, with moisture contents ranging around 13 to 14, Tracy said.

“Prices are not good,” Tracy said, reporting a cash price of $4.26 per bushel for 14 percent protein wheat on July 25.

Tracy said it’s too early to predict expected yields or whether producers will opt to plant less wheat next year.

But Tim Borg, manager of the Wheat Growers Grebner Grain Terminal, said the prices of wheat, soybeans and corn are low overall.

“It’s not the best deal in the world,” Borg said.

Borg said it is unclear whether producers will opt out of planting wheat if the low prices don’t improve.

“It’s hard to say. A lot of them use it for rotation,” Borg said.

Donald Dennert, who farms near Aberdeen, said on July 25 that his wheat was still a week or so away from being harvest ready.

For the last eight years, Dennert said he hasn’t planted as much wheat as he used to due to economical reasons.

“The wheat market has been weak, and corn and soybeans are a little easier rotation,” Dennert said.

Dennert plants to store some of the wheat rather than take it to market.

“The grain markets are interesting to say the least right now,” Dennert said, who primarily grows grains as feed for his livestock.

John Miller, BNSF’s Group Vice President for Agricultural Products said recent demands in exports of grains, particularly yellow corn, have ramped up grain movement.

“The price rise that the markets saw in the month of June helped cause a fairly significant amount of farmers selling that met this rising demand for exports,” Miller said.

We are maintaining good velocity, and we’ve also offered a record number of shuttles in July and August. We have lots of resources across South Dakota. We’ve got the advantage of having a significant amount of new capacity across the railroad that South Dakota benefits from and the whole northern line benefits from. All the capacity that we’ve added in the last three years is coming to bear today and helping to improve the fluidity,” Miller said.

Miller said with recent demand for grain increasing, harvest has essentially started now.

“Because of this early strong demand for corn, as well as beans and wheat, that ramp up in demand for our services, and we’re just going to maintain that level of velocity throughout the harvest. The movement is so strong with the old product,” Miller said.

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