Winter wheat harvest begins on better note than planting, growing season | MyWindsorNow.com
Samantha Fox
sfox@greeleytribune.com

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Winter wheat harvest begins on better note than planting, growing season

Marc Arnusch had low expectations before the winter wheat harvest started.

There wasn't a real reason to be overly optimistic, though, with a dry fall, spotty growth in the spring and commodity prices still suffering.

He started to harvest Saturday, and so far, things are looking up for Weld County's top crop.

WEATHER

The fall was unseasonably warm and dry, but farmers have to plant within a certain time, and if they want to insure their crops, they can't wait too long, either.

All farmers could do was plant and hope the moisture came along.

It did, eventually, but it wasn't until May when Jerry Cooksey, a Roggen producer, started to see things turn around for his wheat crop.

"We had that rain on the 17th of May, about two or three days there, and we had from 2-4 inches everywhere and that pretty much made our crop. It was looking pretty rough before that," Cooksey said.

Cooksey started his harvest on July 5. After some of the crop didn't even sprout until February, he thought it would be later. The recent heat put the harvest start back on track.

Arnusch waited until Saturday to start his harvest. It wasn't until then that he knew how his crops fared. The spring saw varied growth with some spots doing well and others struggling.

"It wasn't until we got the combine deep into the field, or really until we had a few fields under our belt, did we have a sense of relief," Arnusch said.

COMMODITY PRICES

Arnusch planted dryland and irrigated wheat. He planted about 100 acres of the dryland, which is on par, and 400 acres of the irrigated wheat. The 400 acres are about half of what he normally plants for irrigated wheat.

"The wheat market is a really tough environment today and it's given us every indication — at least it did last fall — to reduce our planting," Arnusch said.

With the commodity prices last year, plus a new partnership in the area, he decided to offset the missing 400 acres with corn silage instead. Plus he still has wheat stored from this past season.

Wheat prices from the Roggen Farmers Elevator had wheat at $4.37 on Tuesday, representing a positive trend.

It's still short of the averages from 2010-14, when the price only dipped below $6 per bushel twice and peaked at $9.13 on July 16, 2012, according to Macro Trends.

But it's well above the lowest dip in September 2014, when Macro Trends had the price of wheat at $3.34 per bushel.

Cooksey attributed part of the rebound to the drought in Montana and the Dakotas, but he said the price isn't back to where it should be.

"We're still below the 10-year average, but it looks better than it did a couple months ago," Cooksey said.

Winter wheat harvest progress in Colorado

July 9, 2016 — 29 percent

July 2, 2017 — 13 percent

July 9, 2017 — 47 percent

Source: USDA Crop Progress Report

Local wheat prices for July 11 (per bushel)

USDA in Denver — $4.78

USDA in Bennett — $4.43

USDA in Byers — $4.43

Cargill in Byers — $4.42

Roggen Farmers Elevator — $4.37

Source: Colorado Wheat