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For some, harvest good but not great

6/8/2012

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

CEDAR BLUFF RESERVOIR -- He's not about to cheer, but Eric Moden isn't going to complain much about the quality and quantity of wheat he's been harvesting.

Especially considering the year he's had.

Yields on the wheat he has cut have ranged from 38 to 51 bushels per acre, he said.

"We would have a lot more if we'd had an inch of rain a month ago," he said Thursday while finishing a patch of wheat just west of Cedar Bluff Reservoir along the Smoky Hill River.

Surprisingly, he said, test weights have been good as well, ranging from 58 pounds a bushel up to 63 pounds, well above the benchmark of 60 pounds.

With what little moisture there's been, wheat kernels aren't quite what he's used to seeing.

"They're small, but they're not shriveled," Moden said.

He started this year's wheat harvest in late May.

"That was the first time I ever cut in May," he said.

But a shower last week, amounting to only about 0.2 of an inch, was enough to delay harvest.

As Moden wrapped up the field near the Smoky, he's cut about 750 acres already and was ready to make the hour-long move to uncut wheat just north of WaKeeney.

"I've got a couple friends around town that haven't even started," he said, with moisture levels in some fields still well above what elevators are willing to take without imposing a severe financial penalty.

It's been a strange year, he said, virtually all the result of a lack of moisture.

"We just finished planting milo two days ago," Moden said. "If it doesn't rain soon, 70 (percent) to 80 percent of the milo won't come up."

It's been a difficult spring with the lack of rain.

"We sat for 10 days waiting for rain," he said of delaying planting milo. "We said, 'OK,' and finally put some seed in the ground.

"Every year's different."