Weather changes do not keep wheat from moving in Marion County, it just moves in different ways. Hot, dry conditions inspired an early start to wheat harvest Memorial Day weekend, but several rainy days followed last week, shutting combines down in the fields but not trucks hauling grain out from elevators around the county.
Cari Tippin, scale house worker at Cooperative Grain & Supply in Hillsboro, said on Friday that activity at the weigh station really slowed down when rain fell in the area.
“We switch to shipping grain out instead of taking it in when it rains,” Tippin said. “Farmers still come in to check grain samples, but it is pretty slow compared to last Tuesday.”
Supervisor of the Hillsboro elevator Tracy Bihlmaier said the co-op took in 128,642 bushels of wheat on May 29. Grain Coordinator Dick Tippin confirmed that 224 trucks came in dropping 574 bushels per load.
“We plan to take in more wheat this year than last,” Bihlmaier said. “We are looking at putting in 800,000 bushels.”
Tippin said the increase of wheat was due to more acres planted and higher quality kernels at harvest.
“The yield is better this year,” he said. “So far we are looking at 45 to 70 bushels per acre average. Last year we put in around 34 to 45, so we’ve got some good quality wheat coming in this year.”
Rainy conditions the following three days last week slowed grain intake at the facility to a trickle, with less than five trucks bringing in 16,062 bushels on Friday.
“We had one local guy cutting and he brought in three or four trucks on Thursday, but that was about it,” Cari Tippin said.
She and co-worker Amy Tippin kept busy at the weigh station however, weighing and monitoring trucks leaving the facility and taking grain to Wichita.
Some drivers like Dane Koehn of Stover, Mo., came from out-of-state to meet the trucking needs of the facility.
Koehn, a five-year veteran grain hauler, said he could take as many as five loads per day from Hillsboro to Wichita.
Nelson Penner from near Hesston came through the Hillsboro facility on Friday, newly hired by Team Marketing Alliance this year, and learning the routine of the weigh station.
“I go where they need me,” Penner said. “If there is a farmer out in the field that needs to get grain to town, TMA contacts me and I go get it. If the elevator is getting full, then TMA sends me there to haul grain out to Wichita.”
TMA serves farmers in the south central area, coordinating efforts through several facilities, including those owned by Cooperative Grain and Supply and Mid-Kansas Cooperative Association.
“TMA takes care of the marketing side of grain,” Dick Tippin said. “We own the facilities to store the grain, but they own the actual grain.”
Cari Tippin said that on good harvest days the co-op tried to keep the trucks hauling grain out to a minimum so farmers wouldn’t have to wait in line to weigh in, but on rainy days, as many trucks as possible were called in to take out grain and make room for more wheat to come in.
Perry Gutsch, Agri-Producers manager at Lincolnville said he was seeing good test weights at his facility.
“What little has come in so far looks real good,” he said. “Before the rain we were testing around 60 to 64 pounds per bushel. It came down some after the rains, but not enough to have me concerned.”
Gutsch said there had not been reports of grain damaged due to hail in the Lincolnville area last week that he knew of, and it looked like combines would be in the fields again as soon as Monday afternoon and Tuesday.
“We have some farmers coming in to empty their trucks,” Gutsch said. “Everyone is getting ready to go full swing this week.”