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March of the Combines

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Wheat harvest continues across Ellsworth County

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    ALAN RUSCH/Ellsworth County Independent-Reporter Wheat started trickling into Ellsworth County elevators this past week. Inset, the new elevator silo at Black Wolf.

It’s not the kind of harvest where farmers move from field to field, stripping heads of wheat until only stubble is left.

This is the kind of harvest where farmers pick and choose the fields that are ready because many of them have spots still drying out from this spring’s string of storms.

With the arrival of hot, dry days — typical harvest weather — combines started their annual trek this past week across Ellsworth County.

Dwight Elmore, general manager and president of the Ellsworth Coop, said farmers have been greeted with inconsistency in yields and quality.

In areas with hail damage, fields have yielded as little as four bushels an acre. The storm was especially intense in the Black Wolf area and came literally days before harvest.

“Everything just clicked for other people and they’re getting 80 bushels per acre,” Elmore said.

He said Tuesday morning that the Ellsworth Coop has already handled about half the wheat that was delivered to the company’s six locations in 2018.

“I’m looking for us to take in more wheat than last year,” he said.

Yields account for some of that — Elmore described last year’s crop as “below normal” — however, the coop also is drawing more customers from a wider area.

“We’re bringing more people to the Ellsworth Coop to do business,” he said.

At 6:45 p.m. Thursday, June 27, the first load of wheat was delivered by Arrin Haase to the coop’s new 360,000-bushel grain elevator silo at Black Wolf

The new leg — the second at Black Wolf — was finished in May.

“We needed more storage space at Black Wolf,” Elmore said. “Normally, we have to ship out over 340,000 bushels during wheat harvest just to keep that facility open. This new storage bin will get people in and out quicker.”

He said the elevator leg allows employees to unload 18,000 bushels of wheat an hour.

The cash price of wheat Monday afternoon at Ellsworth was $4.09 a bushel — 22 cents less than a week earlier.

Elmore said demand from flour mills is weak because of a less-than-acceptable protein content. That means demand will depend upon export sales and corn markets. If cash corn prices are strong, livestock producers could switch to wheat to feed their animals.