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Producers look to good crops ... for storage

RURAL GLEN ULLIN, N.D. -- These hot blue-sky days of August are made in heaven for air-conditioning salesmen and grain farmers. The salesmen hustle the showroom floor, while some producers in the Glen Ullin and Mott, N.D., area are out combining ...

RURAL GLEN ULLIN, N.D. - These hot blue-sky days of August are made in heaven for air-conditioning salesmen and grain farmers.

The salesmen hustle the showroom floor, while some producers in the Glen Ullin and Mott, N.D., area are out combining in a pitch perfect combination of dry heat.

They love this year’s wheat crop. What they don’t love is how much it’s worth.

Mark Glasser jumped off his combine parked in a golden hillside not far from Lake Tschida early this week.

“The crop’s really good, but the prices are absolutely horrible,” he said. “It’s very depressing. I don’t see any break-even right now.”

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This particular spring wheat field was last year’s corn ground, so the yield isn’t premium, but still pushing 45 to 50 bushels an acre.

Glasser said a per-bushel price of just over $3 won’t get him into the market any time soon, so he’ll store his wheat in those heavy-duty white storage bags that have popped up all over farm country.

“A lot of this is going to go into plastic,” Glasser said.

He said he loves the work, but the mental stress can get to him.

“It really makes a difference when you know you can make some money and when you’re not,” Glasser said.

South of Lake Tschida, in country referred to as “norda Burt,” Ronnie Reich and his son, Randy Reich, were out on an equipment move from field to field.

“It’s a beautiful crop,” says Randy Reich, who at 24 is perhaps more willing to call it like he sees it than the typical farmer shrug of “not too bad.”

But even his 60-year-old dad agrees.

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“It is really nice, above average,” he said, describing a winter wheat of good quality and good yield at 60 to 70 bushels an acre.

It’s been one of those great crop years, he said, quoting a friend and neighbor’s observation: “I thought last year’s crop was the best until this year.”

Producers were able to get in early - late March through April - and the rains came plentifully and timely.

“Everything just fell into place. If we get 12 hot days, we’ll be done,” Ronnie Reich said.

Prices aren’t especially lucrative right now, and Randy Reich said it’s a chill after five years of good times. Depending on the protein, the local Southwest Grain Cooperative was posting from $2.17 to $5.47 a bushel Wednesday.

After harvesting big crops in past years, the Reichs poured on the fertilizer this year, plus a second round of fungicide on the wheat because of all the rain, so the crop input costs were right up there, too.

About 15 miles to the northwest, Dean Friedt, of rural Mott, consulted with a custom crew cutting his canola before heading back to his leased combine in a wheat field further up the road. The canola is running about 2,000 pounds an acre, the spring wheat between 60 and 70 bushels an acre and winter wheat is pushing 90 bushels an acre, outstanding numbers all around.

“It’s a good crop and now, we’ll just wait for a better price,” said Friedt, who figures most farmers will hold their crop in plastic or bins.

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Some will take out federal crop commodity loans of $2.89 a bushel at low interest, pay bills and repay the loan with higher priced wheat.

“Nobody wants to sell - they’re hoping the price goes up and figure to sit on it for awhile,” Friedt said.

Like all modern producers, Friedt’s as wired to technology as he is to the weather forecast.

“If we get those 90 to 100 degrees, that’s perfect combining weather,” he said.

For the guy selling cold air, it's just dandy, too.


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Dean Friedt from rural Mott, N.D., reports a good crop, and he will wait for a better price. LAUREN DONOVAN/Bismarck Tribune

Related Topics: CROPSCORN
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