Expert: Wheat farmers report abundant yield

CNJ staff photo: Gabriel Monte Lennis Dunn empties grain out of his combine. He said the grain will be sold to AGP Grain Marketing, a buyer they have dealt with for years. “We’re kind of a loyal bunch,” he said.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Hoyt Pattison, 77, disappeared with some tools inside his combine. The machine broke down Friday as he was harvesting his wheat field.

With 1,200 acres of winter wheat to harvest, he and his son-in-law, Lennis Dunn, 51, are trying to finish before Mother Nature decides to throw some hail their way.

This year’s harvest is taking a little longer than usual, Dunn said. But that’s a good thing.

“It’s taking longer because it’s a better crop,” he said.

Wheat farmers are reaping the benefits of a combination of good weather and an above-average market price.

New Mexico State University crop physiologist Sangu Angadi said Curry County farmers reported averaging 25 to 50 bushels an acre.

“(This) is very unusual for this area,” he said. “Normally 10 to 20 bushels (an acre) is a good year, I think.”

Angadi said most farmers have harvested 75 percent of their crop.

Pattison’s wheat fields have been producing three times its yearly average, Dunn said.

“Our average yield, depending on the field … is running from 20 to 50 bushels an acre on dry land,” Pattison said.

He said last year’s yields averaged about six bushels an acre.

NMSU agronomy specialist Mark Marsalis said timely rains and cooler temperatures helped reduce factors that can stress the development of wheat in the summer.

Pattison, who has been farming since 1954, said he knew he was going to have a good crop months before the harvest.

“Spring rains are what make the crop extra good,” he said.

The price of wheat is the highest it has been in more than 30 years, Pattison said. As of the close of market Friday at the Kansas City (Mo.) Board of Trade, the future price for wheat was $6.02 a bushel.

Pattison said he deals with AGP Grain Marketing, which pays $5.44 a bushel.

“We haven’t had price like this since ’75,” he said.

Dunn said the last time they had a good crop, it sold for about half of what the price is now.

With about 600 acres of land left to harvest, Pattison said he was halfway through this year’s wheat harvest.

“I’m hoping we’ll be done in a couple of weeks, if we don’t have too many (equipment) breakdowns,” he said.