For the week of Sept. 25, 2017

A corn crop for the ages

By John Schlageck, Kansas Farm Bureau

One hundred forty-bushel dryland corn in Norton County?

Impossible. Won't ever happen. Can't be done.

Any Kansas grain farmer will never say for sure what a crop will make until it's been harvested, stored away and the figures finished. Still, on Sept. 15, three generations of the Van Patten family believe they have an opportunity to cut some 140-bushel-per-acre corn.

David Van Patten has farmed since the 1950s. He says in his 80-plus years in Norton County, he’s never seen such an ideal summer to grow corn, or any other crop in northwestern Kansas.

Twelve inches of rain during July and August helped produce this abundant crop. Temperatures in the 80s during this period cemented the deal.

“You know, it’s one of those so-called weather phenomenons,” the elder Van Patten says. “It may take another 85 or 100 years to grow such a crop. No one knows for sure but one thing’s for certain, we’ll enjoy this harvest.”

Tony Van Patten, David’s son, says this year’s corn crop was planted in milo stubble. This may have also benefited the growth of this fall’s crop.

“With this year’s rainfall coming like it did, the corn crop never stressed,” Tony says. “It’s still green throughout the field and it’s the middle of September. No rolled up leaves anywhere.”

A beautiful sight indeed – across thousands of acres in northwestern Kansas during the fall of 2017, the corn looks exceptional. Ears range from good-sized to big, farmers say. Most of the corn stalks sport double ears as well.

The Van Pattens figure they’ll start corn harvest in mid-October – weather willing.

Soybean harvest has already started.

As for his family’s soybean crop, it looks good as well.

“I hope we’ll average 40-bushels-per-acre,” Tony says. “Some fields may make 50-bushel. Others may be closer to 30-bushel.”

 Looking out across his fields of corn and beans, Tony waxes poetically.

 “You take what’s given you in this country,” he says. “Some years what you receive is better than others.”

 Like their neighbors and friends across Kansas, these farmers take risks that test their mettle. They face each harvest with the hope of a bountiful crop. They make their peace with the Almighty and keep that same peace with their fellow man.

 Have a safe and abundant harvest.

John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.