Nebraska millet harvest hurt by rains

Millet harvest is getting long and drawn out. Harvest has been intermittent between the recent rains, which is extending the crop's harvest. A survey of area elevators has millet harvest 50 - 60 percent complete in the panhandle. Yields are better than a year, ranging from the mid teens to upwards of 55 bushels an acre.

In a interview with KNEB/Rural Radio Network, Scoular Grain Company Grain merchandiser Logan Snyder says early on in harvest the quality of the crop was excellent.

Before this week's rain, 2013 was set to be one of the biggest year's for millet production in Nebraska. This year more farmers planted millet because of the crop's low water use and drought hardiness. In the southern panhandle, Sndyer says acres were up by as much as 25 percent.

After Sidney received 4 inches of rain Monday, Snyder is concerned about the quality of the crop left in the field. A lot of the crop won't be harvested due to quality concerns with sprouting and discoloration. Snyder says 10-15 percent abandonment would be a conservative estimate.

While millet production looks be better than last year, the state's millet production looks to be lower than average. Millet is predominately used for bird seed and for human consumption, so end users are very particular about the quality of the crop. Elevators will continue to seek alternative markets for the damaged crop.

Demand for millet has weakened with a boost in millet acres. The market forces are coming from outside the region. Snyder says a lot of South Dakota farmers are selling the crop directly over the scales and with the lack of (storage) space in that area, prices are very low. If there weren't as many farmers selling the prices would move higher. Snyder believes if the local market were to increase by $1 per hundred weight, then Snyder propel more selling the panhandle region.

After record prices a year ago, farmers may want to hold out for better prices. Snyder is recommending farmers put the crop into long - term storage and wait out this over-supplied market.

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