Farmers focus on planting, harvesting
By MIKE CORN
GOVE -- There's always plenty to talk about at the community table at the County Seat cafe in Gove.
The federal government's shutdown and reopening has been one of those topics.
But it hasn't been an overriding concern. The high levels of nitrates in baled feed is higher on the list of priorities for many. Or the prospect for snow Friday, which caused little concern.
It was a similar situation a few miles east of Gove recently, where the task at hand was getting a 40-feet-wide drill filled with fertilizer and seed wheat.
Leon Kuntz wondered when his government check covering annual cash payments for land enrolled in the popular Conservation Reserve Program would be coming.
Kuntz, a resident of Tulsa, Okla., only has 145 acres in the program, enrolled at $45 an acre.
His check should total $6,525, but it hadn't arrived at the time, one in a series of victims of the congressional impasse leading to the shutdown.
Darrell Kaiser didn't pay any attention to the loss of government payments yet.
"Too busy to realize it," he said as he waited for the drill to fill with seed wheat.
Kaiser and fellow farmer Lincoln Tucker, whose field they were working in, were more concerned about getting wheat in the ground and milo and corn out of the field.
Area milo crops especially have been a concern because much of it is falling over.
"It's getting worse by the day," Kaiser said.
Both Tucker and Kaiser are hopeful conditions will improve.
Wheat yields for Tucker were marginal, producing only about 25 to 30 bushels per acre.
Corn production this fall varies from 20 to 60 bushels per acre.
"This is the most fouled up year in 50 years," farmer Patrick Porter of Oakley said as he headed out to plant wheat.
Rains didn't arrive in time to save his milo crop.
But he'll have to cut it because crop adjusters weren't willing to write it off.
"If it makes five" bushels to the acre, Porter said, "I'll be surprised."
It's an embarrassing crop, he said.
"If my dad was alive, he'd send me to college," Porter said of finding another profession.
All that comes on top of a poor wheat crop.
"The best we had was about 30," bushels per acre, he said. "The rest, 8 to 10."
He's taking hope, however.
"We are planting wheat in good conditions," he said.