Wheat, barley farmers say they need less rain


GREELEY, Colo. (AP) — Northern Colorado’s wheat and barley farmers say they need hot, dry weather over the next few weeks to protect their harvest.

Farmers tell the Greeley Tribune they anticipate an average yield. But they say recent afternoon storms in the area are giving their crops "water stains," which can indicate mold. Farmers won’t know how their crops have done in the wet weather until they receive germination tests.

"What we need now is hot, dry, breezy weather," Bill Markham of M&M Farms near Berthoud said after test cutting in his fields Thursday afternoon but stopping early due to the amount of moisture still on the crop. "The only way we’re going to make any progress is if we get the rain to stay out of here."

Bob Hamblen of the Colorado State University Boulder County Extension Office says this year’s yield should be in the lower average range, which is 85 bushels per acre to about 110. Hamblen says the rain has been good in some ways but that wheat and barley crops have had enough.

"The rain has certainly been good in some ways, but there’s no doubt there’s been enough at this point," Hamblen said. "We certainly have potential for a decent crop, but we need quite a bit of cooperation from the weather."

In addition to the concerns of discoloration and mold from too much moisture, Hamblen also said weed growth could become a problem, especially if the weeds peak higher than the barley heads. Swathing to rid the fields of weeds would prolong the harvest process even more so, leaving the barley at risk for further damage.

About 75 farmers along the Front Range raise barley for MillerCoors, covering about 10,000 acres. Tom Richardson, regional manager for MillerCoors’ Northern Colorado Region, said the rain situation exists across the area.

"As of now, it’s looking to be a typical harvest," said Richardson, who’s worked for Coors for 12 years. "Everyone is just hoping to see the weather dry up."

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