‘You got to at least get it off the field and get what you can’

KELOLAND.com Original

SULLY COUNTY, S.D. (KELO)– Getting in the field for harvest is an exciting time for farmers, but this year, yields are down significantly due to the drought.  

Winter wheat harvest started late Sunday afternoon for Onida farmer Dave Pitlick. 

“It’s nothing like last year, for sure,” Pitlick said. 

The Protein is high, test weight is down just a little bit, Pitlick said, but it was still worth harvesting. 

“It’s good enough to pay the combining bill, it’s not good enough to make all the payments on everything, but you got to at least get it off the field and get what you can,” Pitlick said. 

Having a higher protein should make the wheat crop worth $1.50 to $2.00 per bushel higher, Jim Carter, the combine driver said. High protein wheat is in higher demand for companies that are making things such as bread. 

If they get a timely rain, test weight for the winter wheat will go down, Pitlick said, as well as the wheat quality, but rain would benefit the fall crops more than what he would lose with his wheat crop. 

It is producing a little over a third of what the winter wheat made last year, he said, last year was a good year for wheat production. 

On the field that Pitlick showed KELOLAND News, it was making 30 bushels per acre. Last year, on this field he had spring wheat that produced 70 bushels per acre, which is a little higher than average. 

This field is 240 acres and will take the crew a couple days to harvest, Carter said. 

This is pretty close to the normal time that they would be harvesting winter wheat, but it depends on the year. Farmers in the area are just starting to harvest, Carter said. 

On the field that Pitlick showed KELOLAND News, it was making 30 bushels per acre. Last year, on this field he had spring wheat that produced 70 bushels per acre, which is a little higher than average. 

Drought affected every aspect of wheat production this year, Pitlick said. 

“It was too dry and then it was too hot when it was pollinating,” he said. 

On Tuesday, Carter said if it didn’t rain that night, they would be in trouble. 

“And they’re really only talking a hit and miss half inch for the next three or four days, all it’s going to do probably is shower and mess up the harvesting,” he said. 

The drought is hurting farmers in the area badly, Carter said.

“It’s not a good deal. Hopefully, the government will help pitch in and help them a little bit,” Carter said. 

The spring wheat this year looks terrible, Pitlick said. If he can get it through the combine head, he will still try to harvest it, but he will have the insurance company look at it and go from there.  

“It’s looked terrible for quite a while and it’s going to end up terrible,” he said. 

Carter said any spring wheat he’s harvested has not really had a yield.  

“There is a few here and there that look pretty good, but overall most of them are shot,” Carter said. 

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