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Price, drought drive high wheat production in area

Rick Turner grew 120 acres of winter wheat, including a six-acre field west of Orrick along 210 Highway. Turner had already harvested the wheat, but returned to shred the stubble so a cover crop he planted could grow freely. (Photo by David Knopf/Richmond News)

Rick Turner grew 120 acres of winter wheat, including a six-acre field west of Orrick along 210 Highway. Turner had already harvested the wheat, but returned to shred the stubble so a cover crop he planted could grow freely. (Photo by David Knopf/Richmond News)

By David Knopf/Richmond News

Rick Turner had already harvested a golden patch of winter wheat on his six-acre, triangle-shaped field west of Orrick.

He was back there last week, shredding the stubble so the red clover he’d planted to enrich the soil could grow freely.

“The ground’s just kind of poor so we put something on it” to add nutrients before the field is planted again, Turner said.

In all, he harvested around 120 acres of winter wheat, part of a local and statewide trend prompted by last year’s drought, higher prices and a longer planting season.

“I just planted last fall because it was dry and the price was pretty high,” he said “For the season it was pretty fair.”

Turner and his father, Jim Barger, have an agreement with neighbor Norman Dorton to plant, treat and harvest Dorton’s acreage. Since a serious automobile accident a few years ago, Dorton said he’s no longer to handle the physical strain of the work himself.

Although Turner’s six-acre field produced wheat in the 40-bushel-an-acre range, he said Dorton’s land up the road topped out at 58 to 60 bushels. Turner had a simple explanation for the difference. Fishing River left its banks earlier this year and spilled over onto Turner’s small tract.

“The river had been up and in it a bit, so it wasn’t as good,” he said.

Wheat traditionally performs better in dry weather than either corn or beans, one of the reasons farmers plant it after a drought year.

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