Ag industry members: Wheat harvest best in years

Argen Duncan

The grain harvest of wheat this year is the best in years due to more precipitation than usual, members of the agriculture industry are saying.

At Portales grain elevator J.D. Heiskell and Company, Plant Manager Eldon Merrick said 90 to 95 percent of the wheat grown for grain in his area had been harvested. Wheat for silage or hay was harvested earlier in the year.

“Wheat quality has been good; yields have been higher than average,” he said of the grain his company has taken.

Most farmers brought in 20 bushels an acre or more of dryland wheat, Merrick said, compared to four to five bushels an acre last year.

“Last year was a pretty dismal year for wheat farmers,” he said.

Merrick hadn’t heard how much wheat irrigated farms were producing, but expected their yields would be around 45 bushels an acre.

Paul Stout, who farms near Grady and Broadview, attributed the abundant harvest to more winter snow than usual and follow-up spring rains.

Stout, also president of the New Mexico Wheat Growers Association, said this wheat harvest is his first good one in about five years.

“I think for the most part, it was an exceptional year for most producers, a well-above-average year,” he said.

Merrick estimated dryland wheat harvests like this year’s happen about every 10 years. In a normal harvest, he said, 10-15 bushels an acre is good.

In Roosevelt County, Extension agent Patrick Kircher said the people he talked to had harvests better than normal, but about 10 bushels an acre less than their visual appraisals had suggested.

On the down side, Kircher said wheat prices have gone down. Jones said that situation is typical around harvest.

Curry County Extension agent Stan Jones said the wheat harvest is taking longer this year. Most years, Jones said, farmers finish by July 4, but he expected they would still be harvesting after the holiday.