Wheat harvest in Crookston area on the home stretch

Mike Christopherson
Crookston Times

    The wheat harvest in the Crookston area is on the home stretch.

    The Times checked in with rural Crookston farmer Tim Dufault to see how this year’s grain crop compares to last year’s historically disastrous crop that introduced non-growers to the phenomenon known as “falling numbers,” which measure’s wheat’s baking quality. If the quality is poor, the wheat is not suitable for milling so it gets sold as feed wheat, for a much lower price than milling quality.

    Generally speaking, Dufault said, this year’s wheat crop is better than 2019. Falling number is an issue again this year, he added, but it’s not as widespread as last year and appears to be in a smaller band from Crookston to the Mahnomen area. At Jim and Robin Reitmeier’s farm north of the Crookston Municipal Airport, on which they played just under 2,000 acres of wheat this year, there was a small amount of falling numbers. They’re waiting for more samples to be tested, Robin tells the Times.

    “Yields are about average,” Dufault said. “I have heard of some guys with an 80-bushel per acre field and then I have talked with guys with 60-bushel fields.”

    Robin Reitmeier said their fields were “very wet” this year, so the yields are less than hoped for. “Late start, some drown-out,” she added.

    Protein content appears to be down somewhat, Dufault noted, at around 13%. The standard is 14%, Dufault added.

    All in all, he stressed, things could be much worse, especially considering the terrible harvest of 2019.

    “Going into harvest we didn’t know what we were going to find,” Dufault explained. “The crop was planted late. We had too much rain, heat, and humidity. Wheat is a cool-season grass crop. So, considering the weather we have to be happy with this year’s wheat crop.”

Farmers in the area hustled to their fields on a sunny, windy Sunday morning and early afternoon in order to beat the rain that started falling in the middle of the afternoon. Here, grain is harvested at Bruce & Corky Hanson Farms southwest of Crookston on Polk County Highway 9.