By Pam Smith
DTN Progressive Farmer Crops Technology Editor
DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- The heat is on and those with field activities to accomplish have been extremely grateful for air-conditioned cabs this week.
"It's been like a blast furnace here," said Kyle Krier, of Claflin, Kansas. "Triple-digit temps and 30-mile-per-hour winds. Did I mention it's been hot? Being outside has been slightly less than enjoyable."
The stinging heat was taking a toll on central Kansas crops, too. Dryland corn was starting to look a bit tough, Krier noted. Dryland soybeans were also starting to shrivel. Milo, planted slightly later, was hanging tough.
The 1.3 to 1.5 inches of rainfall that fell on Krier's fields this week were more than welcome -- those drops were critically timed.
Genny Haun was also seeking a bit of shade when we checked in with her on Monday, but she gave a general thumbs up to overall crop conditions in the Kenton, Ohio, area. Haun and Krier report in each week from their respective states as part of DTN's View From the Cab series.
Here's what has been happening in their parts of the farm world this week:
KYLE KRIER -- CLAFLIN, KANSAS
Krier couldn't be gluten-free if he tried (nor does he want to be). The Kansas farmer has been knee deep in wheat harvest all week. As for the number of sandwiches he's downed during long hours in the combine cab -- well, surely all that bread should help the sagging wheat market, he opined.
Krier expected to finish up his harvest by the end of the week. "Some fields were a bit off what we expected, but we also had some positive surprises yield-wise," he said.
Overall, he estimated yields were coming in 10% to 30% above expectations for his farm. In May, the Wheat Quality Council's winter wheat tour made a stop in one of Krier's fields. They set yield potential at 46.5 bushels per acre (bpa) at that time in that field. While he hasn't done the final yield tallies, he thought it would yield about 9 bpa better than the tour estimate.
His region of central Kansas has been more fortunate weather-wise than some other parts of the state, but even where he farms, the wheat crop has been through many ups-and-downs this growing season. His "surprising" yields are testimony to the resiliency of the crop.
"We are definitely seeing some varietal differences this year with regard to yield," he noted. "But timing of planting seems to be the biggest factor in yield. We got a big fall rain and fields planted too soon after that rain struggled."
He said those early-planted fields didn't tiller as well and thinks there was some sidewall compaction from carts following behind the air seeder. "We had a little hairpinning on some of our continuous wheat because we didn't let the straw dry out enough. Looking back, I wish we would have had about 48 hours of patience. Had we waited to seed, a couple of those fields might have made another 5 to 15 bushel per acre," he said.
It was all hands on deck this week. Both combines were rolling. Straw was being baled. One grain cart was zipping back and forth, and three truck drivers were helping keep the grain flowing to local elevators.
"To be honest, we could use a couple extra people, but we are getting it done," he said.
Wheat protein has been strong -- 12% to 15.5%. That's considerably higher than the 10% to 12% in a more typical wheat year.
"That's good, except they aren't paying premiums on it because everyone has protein this year. It would be a good year to have some grain bins," he said.
With the wheat taken care of, Krier can turn attention back to hay. Second cutting alfalfa should start early next week.
GENNY HAUN -- KENTON, OHIO
The corn is fed and happy on Layman Farms, Kenton, Ohio. Nitrogen sidedressing finished this week.
Genny and her husband, Matt, and two children recently took a short working vacation that took them across parts of Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. It was a good chance to go some crop gazing and comparisons.
"It was evident that the crops were further along than ours as we headed west. However, I think ours look just as good, despite being a tad bit smaller.
"I hope I don't jinx us by saying this, but our crops in this area are off to a really good start," she added. "We have some late-planted stuff that needs a little rain to give it a boost, but overall we're feeling good."
Genny's father, Jan Layman, and Matt were checking out a tiling/repair project they've been hired to do this week. Now that farm operations have slowed down slightly, they can turn to some construction projects that have been on hold.
Maybe it was the heat, but energy issues of all sorts were on Genny's mind this week. Wind turbine farms, a solar farm and the replacement of a natural-gas pipeline are ongoing projects in her immediate area.
Although these projects aren't happening directly on the farm, the family also has a tiling and excavation business.
Haun is the current vice president of the Hardin County (Ohio) Farm Bureau Board of Trustees and will be installed as president next term. "As a board, we take a hard look at alternative energy and all the aspects of protecting landowners," she said. "The issues can get quite complicated."
Postemergence weed control spraying is next on the priority list of farm chores for the coming week. Haun said warm weather and high winds often require that sprayers be parked to wait for better conditions. Since their soybeans are still small and they've had enough rain to activate residuals, there's still time to get those post applications done. But finding enough good spray days is always challenging, she agreed.
Ever busy, Haun and other family members will help her sister, Holly Layman Cannode, this weekend. Holly's custom baking and chocolates business, The Sweet Note, is expanding to storefront called The Sweet Note Cafe.
The new venture is making a debut during a food truck festival in Kenton this weekend. "I'm quite content to be an elf this weekend," Haun said. "I'll be wrapping caramel apples and boxing pie and whatever job needs done."
Pamela Smith can be reached at Pamela.firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN
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