TORRINGTON – Crop production in eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska experienced a fairly normal year, with a few high spots and lows along the way.
Jeff Chapman, manager of the Kelley Bean elevator in Torrington, reports the 2017 dry edible bean crop was about average. Yield was average or a little above, with about 40 bushels per acre.
“The early quality was very good,” Chapman said. “But later it rained, and the quality fell to about average.”
The lackluster crop drew a less than welcome price. Supplies out ran demand, resulting in low harvest prices that are holding at about $21 for pintos and Great Northerns. Navies, light reds and black turtles are fetching slightly higher prices, at $27 and $35.
Chapman said the world supply, as well as production levels in the Red River Valley, are greater than normal, helping draw down prices. Part of this is due to increased acreage.
Chapman also said that diseases, blight and white mold, detracted some from local yields and quality. But all things considered, Chapman said it wasn’t a bad year.
Beet crop ‘really good’
Sugar beet producers are breathing a little easier as processing was 56 percent complete as of Dec. 18.
Jerry Darnell, Western Sugar Cooperative Vice President of Agriculture, said he is pleased with results to date, especially with the favorable weather, but there are nearly two months to go, with the campaign expected to run until the end of February.
Latest figures show the local crop is averaging 31.2 tons per acre, with a 17.5 percent sugar content. Reports indicate the sugar beet crop in the Fort Morgan, Colo., area is averaging 35.5 tons per acre, with a 17.25 percent sugar content.
“Harvest ran from Labor Day until Nov. 10, and we had a really good crop,” Darnell said. “The piles are stable, and we expect to complete processing at Torrington and Scottsbluff the last week in February.”
As for alfalfa, Caleb Carter, Extension Educator at the University of Wyoming Extension office in Torrington, said Tuesday that for the most part, hay producers are having a pretty good year.
“They don’t seem to have any trouble marketing their hay,” Carter said. “Especially the higher quality. In fact, there’s a shortage of that. The Colorado dairies are paying high prices.”
Market reports show alfalfa selling at $120 a ton for poor quality, and as high as $200 a ton for the real high quality, he said.
“But there’s a lot of the average quality, too,” Carter said, explaining there was a large supply of that in this area because of the cool, wet weather this spring that affected the early stages of growth. That in turn impacted the second cutting quality to some extent. While an average for this area is about $125 to $130 a ton, top-quality hay was fetching as much as $180 to $200.
Market news sources report that area corn prices as of Dec. 19 ranged from $2.97 to $3.17, and wheat ranged from $3.07 to $4.28, depending on location of the elevators and their demand. A lot of producers sell to area feedlots, with contracts influencing prices. Marketing crops into northern Colorado can sometimes improve prices because of that state’s livestock industry.