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Idaho wheat: late, yields down, but quality good

Meridian—Grain broker and producer Richard Durrant of Meridian says the 2019 wheat crop is at least 10 behind last year’s fall harvest.

The Idaho Wheat Commission also reports that the fall wheat harvest is much later than the 2018 season, 10 days later to be exact and that yields are down 10-percent.

“I finally started,” said Durrant, a producer, and owner of Big D Ranch. Durrant stores and markets wheat on his ranch south of Meridian.

“I think quality looks good. Early this summer I thought quantity was going to be up, so it's a little disheartening to see Idaho yields down from the Wheat Commission report, but I’m also hearing it from our producers out there,” said Durrant.

Last week the Commission reported that harvest was underway in areas around Lewiston, Glenns Ferry and south of Boise. So far, Idaho farmers have harvested more than 4 million bushels, with good quality, protein levels, and good test weights.

“I knew the wet spring and cold weather would knock us down, said Durrant. “We always hope that ours is going to be a bit better than the average, but it’s not the case so far.”

Idaho had one of the coldest, wettest springs on record in 2019 and that slowed planting and affected growth.

“I thought the rain was going to help our yields, we got by with less irrigation and stilling was good, but it was the cold mornings that are affecting the quantity, I suppose,” said Durrant.

The hottest days of the summer have finally arrived. Durrant says the heat has helped and says they were getting caught up, just as harvest gets underway.

Durrant says more wheat was planted in SW Idaho this year and he’s trucking wheat out as fast as he can to make room for storage and a bigger harvest.

“We’ve been averaging 40-50-thousand bushel a day trucking out and historically ours ends up in Portland and Pasco. I think we will be sitting okay as far as storage and capacity,” added Durrant.

The Wheat Commission reports they are not seeing issues with low falling numbers, falling numbers is a test that measures sprout damage. Numbers from this year's crop is at acceptable levels, above 300.

The commission adds that test weights are good, test weight is a quality indicator measuring the average weight of cereal in pounds per bushel. and they’ve been good, in the 60 range. Protein levels are right around 10-percent, which is the ideal range.

“We’ve had perfect weather from June till now, no disease or bad storms, this has been a very dry summer, no storms at all, we just hope we can get it all in without a cloud burst,” said Durrant.

Gem County producers have started harvest, some Magic Valley producers have started, but the Eastern part of the state is even later, according to Commission reports.