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Wheat harvest 2011
Stafford County wheat harvest rolling
wheat harvest 6-13 004
Paula Rixon of St. John cuts a 100-acre tract with a Case IH 2388 combine two miles south of St. John near NE 10th Road and U.S. 281. Paula and Kent Rixon and their son, Joe Rixon, will transport the wheat to the Stafford County Flour Mills in Hudson. - photo by JIM MISUNAS Great Bend Tribune

By Jim Misunas

STAFFORD COUNTY — “Better than expected.”
Early returns on the Stafford County wheat harvest have offered promising test weights and better than predicted harvests.  
“Test weights are good and yields are better than expected,” said Jim Bob Lewton of Kanza Co-op. “Everyone seems pleased with what they’re seeing as opposed to what they were thinking two weeks ago. We’re off to a good start. Test weights were 60 plus and yields ranged between 30 and 40 bushels per acre.”
The Kanza Co-op in Iuka operates five elevators in Stafford County in Stafford, St. John, Dillwyn, Zenith and Antrim.
The majority of the cutting has been done in the Stafford and St. John areas with some work done near Macksville. The harvest slowed Sunday with overnight rain, but 90-degree temperatures created optimum drying conditions.
Glenn Newdigger, Stafford County Extension agent, said most yields have been in the 30 to 40 bushel range with a high in the mid 50s, but yields in the Radium area were lower. The presence of leaf rust is minimal due to lack of moisture and the price of wheat has stayed in the $8 to $9 range.  
“It will be a below average year, but the price of wheat is good,” he said. “Some of the yields have been exceptional to what they expected.”
Newdigger said timing of the harvest will have many cutters progressing during a similar time frame. He said regional wheat harvests have been lower than normal and world-wide demand have boosted the price of wheat.
“Once the harvest gets going, it will keep moving along quite quickly,” he said.
The Kanza elevator in Stafford leads the way with 300,000 bushels of wheat with the first load coming in June 8. The Stafford elevator will bring in 1.3 million bushels of wheat in an average year. More than 110,000 bushels were brought in Saturday.
“Yields have run from 30 bushels up to 55,” said Donnie Pound of the Stafford elevator. They’ve had really good test weights.”  
The Stafford elevator brought in 100,000 bushels with the first load arriving June 9. In a good year, Stafford will bring in more than 750,000 bushels. A spokesperson said farmers’ harvests were better than expected.
The St. John elevator is just getting started with 40,000 bushels, just 10 percent of what would be brought in during an average year.
“Yields are better than what they thought and that’s helping with test weights,” said Ron Schwerdtfeger of the St. John elevator. “The quality is good.”
Moisture content has ranged from 11 to 15;5 percent.
The Pawnee County wheat harvest has just started with 6,000 bushels taken in Saturday in the southern part of the county. Rain slowed the harvest Sunday.
Rodney Wallace, Pawnee County Extension agent, said some farmers expect dry conditions to keep yields down. But hot and dry conditions will also quickly get the wheat ready for harvest in the next week to 10 days. 
Gathering in the wheat will be the Pawnee County Co-op and Golden Valley Inc., the consolidation of Golden Plains Cooperative of Rozel and Sanford, Farmers Coop Grain and Supply of Burdett and Tri-Ag Coop of Sanford.
The southern part of Barton County should be cutting wheat in the next few days while northern sections near Claflin and Hoisington is a little further away. Yields may range from under 10 bushels per acre to 35 to 40.
“We haven’t quite gotten started in Barton County and we’ve still got some wet fields,” said Vic Martin, Barton County ag instructor. “Some of the northern sections look a little better.”