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Archive for Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Douglas County farmers optimistic for next year

A farmer works in a corn field recently just north of Lawrence. Untimely moisture, combined with intense heat in early August, dimmed hopes for a bountiful harvest.

A farmer works in a corn field recently just north of Lawrence. Untimely moisture, combined with intense heat in early August, dimmed hopes for a bountiful harvest.

October 5, 2010

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Yields may be down after an early rise in expectations for a bumper crop of corn throughout the Lawrence area, but don’t expect to hear much grumbling.

Not too much, anyway.

“Without question, it’s disappointing on corn,” said Matthew Vajnar, grain merchandiser for Ottawa Co-op Association, which has grain elevators in Lawrence and a dozen other area communities. “It’s one of the worst corn crops in the last 10 years. I can’t remember a worse one. It’s not good for the ag community.

“But this weather, it allows people to get field work in for next year’s plantings of row crops.”

Such search-for-it optimism grows after producers endured what Vajnar describes as a “perfect storm”: early and otherwise untimely moisture, combined with intense heat in early August, to shrivel prospects for a bountiful corn harvest.

Co-op elevators have brought in only 4 million bushels thus far, with up to 75 percent of the area’s corn fields harvested, Vajnar said. That’s after 7 million bushels came in last year, as wet weather pushed some cutting into February.

Now farmers simply are moving on.

“We’re always glad to get one hurdle accomplished,” said Pat Ross, a partner for Nunemaker-Ross Farms Inc., which finished harvesting its 1,500 acres of corn this weekend north of and along the Kansas River. “The weather’s fantastic. It’s so much nicer than it was a year ago, conditionwise.”

Corn coming into co-op elevators averages 85 bushels per acre, Vajnar said, down from last year’s average of 120 to 125 bushels an acre.

In the last week to 10 days, he said, the co-op was paying $4.75 per bushel, and Monday’s price stood at $4.19 per bushel — both up from the historical price of about $3 per bushel.

Ross remains hopeful.

But not too much, anyway.

“A lot of people have been saying we’ll hit five or six dollars” per bushel, Ross said. “Maybe we will. Time will tell.”

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