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Southern Plains Harvest Report: Lower Yields, Higher Prices

There’s good news and bad news in the harvest reports coming out of the Southern Plains. Severe drought in Texas and Oklahoma has obviously taken a toll on yields in 2011. The good news is: Prices for some crops are twice what they were in 2010, and harvest is ahead of schedule, says this week’s harvest blogger, Dan Renaud (“the guy with the suspenders”). Renaud is the Case IH combine product specialist responsible for Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. With the company for 31 years, Renaud has spent the last 16 years as a Case IH product specialist, and the last decade focusing solely on combines. Like all Case IH product specialists, Renaud is based in the field, where he can most efficiently support Case IH customers and dealers.

In my territory, Interstate 70 is the dividing line. North of I-70, yields improve dramatically. South of I-70, the drought has had a big impact across Kansas and all the way down through Oklahoma and Texas, where yields are down considerably.

Wheat harvest in our area has been done since July. Yields are about half what they are in normal year. On a positive note, with crop insurance payments and strong commodity prices being nearly twice what they normally are, we’ve been able to hold our own.

For fall-harvested crops, corn harvest in Kansas is 88 percent complete as of October 16, compared to a five-year average of 69 percent.  Partly that’s due to lighter crop conditions, and partly due to low moisture.  Yields are down because there’s not much moisture, but prices are remaining firm.

Soybeans in Kansas are 58 percent harvested as of October 16, vs. a five-year average of 49 percent.  So we’re ahead of the game here too, but that’s due to drier conditions and quicker dry down.  In Western Kansas, beans have been pretty well harvested. Soybean harvest continues on the eastern side of the state.

We did have a little slowdown in harvesting last week, thanks to anywhere from 2-6-inches of moisture in Central and Western Kansas. But we’re definitely not complaining about the rain!

Milo harvest is just getting started.  Some guys are taking green milo, but it’s more difficult to harvest when the plant’s still green and vigorous. Normally that’s a later crop that can wait for a frost.

All in all, this is definitely one of those years when you need a combine that’s flexible – that adapts well to various crop conditions – so you can get all the crop out and not lose grain. This is where you look at the 35-year history of the Case IH Axial-Flow combines and how they’ve always been designed for flexibility. Its ability to adapt easily to various crops and conditions makes the Axial-Flow a grain-saving machine, there’s no question about it.

Of course, that flexibility also leads to a lot of phone calls during harvest. As a Case IH product specialist, I deal daily with phone calls from dealers and customers about machine specs, optional equipment, and machine options to capitalize on a particular crop or field harvest conditions.  We also supply dealers and customers with recommendations on machine settings for specific crop conditions to maximize that combine’s productivity, capacity and grain savings.

When you’re talking to a dealer or customer and offering machinery adjustment recommendations and he says, “That did it! Thank you, bye!” that’s fun. That’s what supporting the customer really means.

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