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View From the Cab
Thursday, September 20, 2018 7:28AM CDT
By Katie Dehlinger
DTN Farm Business Editor

MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) -- Soybean harvest is closing in, and that means busy times on the farms of Kyle Krier and Genny Haun.

Krier, who farms in central Kansas, is putting up the latest hay and grass cuttings and visiting crop insurance customers when he can.

"We're just kind of biding our time right now and getting caught up on spraying, getting caught up on hay before the craziness ensues," he said.

In western Ohio where Genny Haun farms, wet weather has slowed progress on waterway and field-tiling projects but has helped recently flown-on cover crops.

The two young farmers have been reporting on field conditions and farm life this year as part of DTN's View From the Cab series. Here's what's happening in their parts of the farming world.

KYLE KRIER -- CLAFLIN, KANSAS

Krier finished the fourth cutting of alfalfa on Monday night and is working on getting sorghum sudangrass and the second cutting of grass hay put up before it possibly rains later this week.

He said it's very unusual to get a second grass cutting, let alone a second cutting that's larger than the first, but that's the case this year. The wet growing season also means they'll get a fifth cutting of alfalfa.

"Our cuttings have been very close to the same nearly every cutting. You get almost the same tons each cutting, and our quality every cutting goes up. It's nice to have that problem," he said.

Another nice problem to have is strong demand. Krier says hay is selling well, and a lot of it's heading to eastern Kansas and western Missouri, where it was really dry this year. That has the added benefit of lessening his area's abundant supplies.

"We are definitely staring at the barrel of harvest here coming pretty quick," he said.

He estimates soybean harvest is about a week and a half to two weeks away. It's also getting close to time to begin planting wheat, but he said they'll wait until at least next week to limit potential problems with Hessian flies and because they don't plan on doing any grazing.

He expects the wheat crop to get off to a good start this year with good moisture in the forecast and a full soil profile. Farmers are also in the midst of signing up for crop insurance, and while most farmers are sticking with the same coverage levels, a few are buying up.

"I think guys are looking at it, at this point in time, as more of a pricing opportunity than anything, as opposed to trying to increase coverage more so because they think something is going to go wrong," he said. While June Kansas City wheat futures prices generally declined in the Aug. 15 to Sept. 14 discovery period, the $5.74-per-bushel reference price for 2019 crop insurance is 87 cents higher than last year and the highest since 2014.

Krier said half the farmers he's visited with plan to stick to their rotation, while the other half told him they're going to plant wheat "fence row to fence row." There just aren't many good alternatives with soybean and sorghum prices bearing the brunt of the trade dispute with China.

Another large wheat crop could compound storage problems at local elevators. Most of them are so full with this year's wheat, they're planning on piling corn and milo on the ground.

"At this point in time, nobody has begun to go down this road yet, but there is definitely talk of the potential where elevators may force you to sell across the scale if you want to bring your crops in," he said.

GENNY HAUN -- KENTON, OHIO

In western Ohio, soybean harvest is still a week to 10 days away, but wet weather has made it tough to complete other projects.

"We continue to struggle with cooperative weather to finish up waterway and field-tiling projects," she said. "It's a double-edged sword -- wanting rain to finish out crops and start cover crops and wanting a break to dry out enough to move dirt!"

They flew on 1,200 acres of cover crops last week, mostly cereal rye and rapeseed. She said some of what was flown on is starting to emerge, but could use a little more rain to establish a good stand. The forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-80s and lots of sunshine, so it could be a better week for moving dirt.

Haun said the crew plans to visit Ohio State University's Farm Science Review on Wednesday. The three-day show usually attracts more than 140,000 visitors and 600 exhibitors each year. She said they can't see the whole show in one day -- exhibits span 80 acres while demonstrations take place on another 600 -- so they've prepared a list of vendors they want to visit.

"Having managed the company booth for several years with a previous employer, I enjoy being able to visit the show without working it," she said. "It's a great opportunity to catch up with many contacts I've made over the years."

When they get back to the farm, it's time for the final countdown to harvest. While they've already prepared the machinery and equipment, she said there's always something that could come up. Haun said her husband, Matt, will also be busy collecting orders for custom applications to be run with their new John Deere spreader.

Once harvest gets started, they'll try to cut all of their soybeans first. She said some of the corn may be ready sooner than some soybean varieties, and they're prepared to switch one of their two combines over if they have to, even though it's not ideal.

Once the crops come off, they plan to drill cover crops on another 2,000 or so acres. Then, their attention shifts to next year. Haun said they haven't done much marketing on their 2019 crops, breaking with some of their usual patterns.

"As all farmers are, we are closely watching markets and trends and following big issues stateside and across the world to determine our plan of action," she said. "We have already begun thinking ahead to next season in terms of what seed technology we want to embrace and formulate a plan on what soybean varieties and corn hybrids will fit best within our operation."

Katie Dehlinger can be reached at Katie.dehlinger@dtn.com.

You can also follow her on Twitter @KatieD_DTN

(SK/CZ)

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