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Montana Ag Network: Winter wheat harvest underway for Montana farmers

Posted at 8:57 AM, Aug 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-19 10:57:27-04

Harvest is underway for Montana farmers, albeit at a slower pace compared to last year for barley, wheat, and pulse crop growers.

Denise Conover is a farmer from Broadview and a member of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee. She said overall it has been a good year for raising wheat, at least in south-central Montana.

“We've had tremendous yields and we're very pleased with the quality and we're just trucking along," Conover said. “We've cut anywhere from 70 to 90 bushels to the acre, which is pretty much unheard of in this part of the world. But like I said, I think with all the moisture, the timely rains, the cool temperatures, this spring is why it's a little bit later. But we'll take it because we love it.”

She said even 10, 15, 20 years ago, having a crop like this year's was kind of unheard in Montana, especially on dry land.

“I think with new technology and the no-till and the fertilization, people are getting smart. They're using their smart phones and they're really farming this ground to the better," Conover said.

Charlie Bumgarner farms near Great Falls and is also a member of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee. He said wheat yields looked good early.

“Actually, we started off very well. I mean, we had great stands,” said Bumgarner. “We have a lot of potential. And actually, up until we started cutting, we thought we had a big one coming. But we had a late frost and it's really bothered our yields this year.”

He said moisture has been the biggest battle when it comes to cutting and hauling the crop.

“We had good moisture early,” said Bumgarner. “We had that heat that came along and kind of got some things ripened up and then we had about a week of good cutting and now we've kind of had some moisture come and it slowed us down a bit. So, we would like to see some more heat, but middle August is not always that way.”

It’s almost been like the never-ending crop harvest season. Bumgarner said they went from haying right into harvesting.

The latest Montana Crop Progress Report states 50 percent of the winter wheat has been harvested in Montana compared to last year’s 64 percent. The five-year average is 80 percent.