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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Area co-ops doing well in spite of drought

  • The drought of 2012 has taken a heavy toll on Kansas' crop production.
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  • The drought of 2012 has taken a heavy toll on Kansas' crop production.
    The latest numbers from Kansas Agriculture Statistics show corn, milo, soybean and corn production numbers down substantially from 2011 that was also a drought year.
    The drought spreads far beyond Kansas with many states also experiencing some of the worst drought conditions in decades.
    With drought comes dry land crop failure and that means feed supplies for livestock will be drastically reduced so farmers are selling off livestock because the feed grains just aren't available.
    Reduction in livestock numbers tends to lead to higher food prices, said Pratt County Extension Agent Mark Ploger.
    "It's an indication they'll be a shortfall," Ploger said.
    The corn harvest is almost over and dry land corn was so bad that in some areas, some grain elevators, like ADM in Cullison, received no bushels of dry land corn, said Derek Meyer, ADM branch manager in Cullison.
    The Kanza Co-op facilities in and around Pratt did get some dry land corn. Depending on when the corn was planted and where it was located, the dry land corn yield range was all over the place with an estimated 40 bushel per acre in Pratt County with some fields at 80 bushel per acre and some at 150 bushel per acre, said Jim Bob Lewton, Kanza Coop grain merchandiser.
    While he amount of crops is down across the cost of producing those crops continues to rise. The cost of fertilizer, fuel and even the cost of seeds for planting continues to rise, Ploger said.
    The combination of high costs and lower income will make it difficult for farmers to make ends meet.
    Since this area depends on the rural economy, when the farmers are hurting the rest of the community hurts also.
    All this plus Congress' inability to pass a farm bill puts financial pressure on farmers. While some commodity support is still in place it will eventually run out.
    However, farmers are getting some help with high commodity prices. Those prices are allowing farmers to make ends meet for the time being.
    Two years of drought could also impact insurance rates. If this area gets hit with another drought in 2013 it could prompt insurance companies to up the rates to farmers, Ploger said.
    One thing on the farmer's side is commodity prices. With prices on the high side, farmers may be getting less out of the field but the prices are helping make ends meet.
    Another positive for farmers is the number in the area that has irrigated land. Irrigated crops continue to produce well for farmers and bring in good yield numbers.
    Page 2 of 2 - One area that hasn't had much of a drought problem is area grain elevators. With so much acreage under irrigation, the elevators haven't felt much of an impact, Meyer said.
    This year's corn harvest will yield about the same as last year. A large pile of corn lies just east of the elevators as testament to the irrigated harvest in the county.
    The Kanza Co-op is also having a good fall harvest and will probably take in more corn than in 2011, Lewton said.
    The rains in the area helped and produced more dry land corn than expected. Although the area had some pollination issues, the yield was better than 2011.
    While the elevators in this area are doing good, elevators in other parts of the state where farmers don't irrigate as much are feeling the effects of the drought, Lewton said.
    But for the Pratt area, the grain elevators are in good shape and the ever-optimistic farmers are planting wheat and hoping for a better year in 2013, Ploger said.

    Kansas Agriculture Statistics crop yield predictions for 2012 compared to 2011
    Corn
    • 382.2 million bushels is 15 percent lower
    Milo
    • 88 million bushels is 20 percent lower
    Soybeans
    • 70.4 million bushels is 31 percent lower
    Cotton
    • 47,000 bales is 22,000 bales lower
    Potato
    • 41 percent higher
    Kansas has 6,000 acres in potatos in 2012, up about 500 acres from 2011. Forecast yield is 360 cwt per acre, up 80 cwt from 2011.

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