As farmers and ranchers are entering three of the most important months of the year it serves as a reminder of five points that are top of mind.
First, as we finished the Labor Day weekend, we know that High Plains wheat producers are getting ready to plant their 2024 crop. It comes at a time when many producers, particularly in the southern Plains, had poor yields. Kansas alone only produced about 208 million bushels on 6.5 million acres, which is about 85% of the total in 2022 and far removed from the near record-total of 364 million bushels in 2021.
In a prolonged drought there was some relief beginning in late May and continuing to late July. Rainfall helped improve yields in far western Kansas and aided production in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska when the crop matures much later.
Drought conditions have improved in most High Plains regions but the heat has been persistent and certainly could have an impact on next year’s yields.
Second, cattle prices have remained remarkably high as consumers continue to want beef in their diets buoying the industry and encouraging cow-calf producers to rebuild their herds. Because it takes several years to turn a calf into an animal that can be harvested, ranchers will need to continue to monitor pasture and rangeland conditions.
Third, corn, soybean and sorghum yields will go from estimation stage to the yield monitor stage. Farmers and grain traders will watch closely to see if the high heat in the past month will significantly impact yields of those three important crops many High Plains producers grow. Naomi Blohm, a monthly columnist for High Plains Journal, noted the recent weather whims are going to test the patience of producers as they seek yields that will be profitable.
Fourth, labor will continue to be important as farmers, ranchers, and their suppliers grapple with the need for skilled labor. As copy editor Jennifer Theurer wrote in this week’s cover story, for the entire food chain to work it takes many facets of labor to get a crop in the ground and harvested and livestock cared for. The agricultural industry requires specialized labor to successfully get food from the farm into the marketplace.
Fifth, we need to make sure that safety of family, friends and co-workers are atop our to-do list. With all activities associated with ag production in the next several months—from planting wheat, harvesting spring-planted crops, hauling cattle closer to home—there are many opportunities for hazards to occur. With daylight hours getting shorter it also puts pressure on managers and equipment operators to make sure they are getting adequate rest and breaks.
Please take care of yourself as the fall season needs everyone to stay healthy.
Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].