Purchase photos

Looks are deceiving as wheat crop yields improve

7/4/2013

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

QUINTER -- Members of the Albert Zerr family could smile a bit as they watched a patch of wheat not far from Castle Rock being harvested.

They weren't so lucky on other fields being harvested.

"Below average," said Kirk Zerr, whose field of golden wheat was being cut by a trio of massive combines. "Everything we're doing is 25 bushels off what we did last year."

Last year, despite the eventual severity of the drought, the Zerrs produced an average of 65 bushels per acre. This year, it's been closer to 25 to 30 bushels per acre.

"No rain this year," Kirk Zerr said as he turned and looked at a growing field of milo. "We need rain for milo."

Out in the new combine -- a 2010 Case that's at least new for the Zerr family -- son Jeff was marveling at what was coming in to the bin.

"It doesn't look very good," he said. "But it seems to be yielding a lot more than you think."

Wheat cut by Jeff Zerr was averaging approximately 38 bushels per acre.

"Just look at it," he said, "it looks like 30."

The monitor inside the combine, however, soon started showing yields of more than 50 bushels an acre from an otherwise short stand of wheat.

Kirk Zerr fretted about how close to the ground they had to cut to get all of the grain.

Typically, he'd like to leave a lot more stubble in the field to shade the ground.

"It's definitely not going to be a great wheat year," he said. "I guess we can't complain. It could be worse. We could have no wheat."