RUNNELS COUNTY – Wheat producers have been racing to get the wheat harvested for the past two weeks, and now the 2017 crop is almost completely cut.

RUNNELS COUNTY – Wheat producers have been racing to get the wheat harvested for the past two weeks, and now the 2017 crop is almost completely cut.

On Monday, Chad Halfmann, of Halfmann Red Angus, was busy harvesting the last of his 300 acres.

Even though producers say the price of wheat is down, yields are up.

‘I’ve seen better yields this year than last year,” Halfmann said, adding that he has been getting between 45 and 60 bushels per acre.

Halfmann said that the harvest is “95 percent complete,” and that is partially due to less wheat planted last year.

According to the Daniel Lange, executive director of the Runnels County Farm Bureau, there was about 90,000 acres planted in 2016 for the 2017 harvest. That is down from 140,000 acres planted in 2015.

“The wheat acres are down this year,” Lange said.

Halfmann said wheat planting is down nationwide.

“It is the least acreage planted across the country since 1909,” Halfmann said.

Kevin Book, manager of Elm Creek Grain in Ballinger, called this year’s crop “average,” and said he is still taking grain.

“We still have wheat on the ground in the northern parts of Runnels County, but for the most part they are done,” Book said.

Currently, wheat is going for just under $4 a bushel.

“We are giving all we can,” Book said. “We’re still in the market and want to buy wheat.”

Meanwhile, the ever-present dilemma continues, with producers racing to harvest wheat, so they can plant cotton. In 2015, there were about 50,000 acres of cotton planted in Runnels County.

Producers have been waiting on rain, before planting the cotton, but as usual, do not want rain to delay the wheat harvest.

Runnels County Extension Agent Garrett Cline agreed that the wheat harvest has not been the best.

Last week, officials from the Texas A & M AgriLife Extension Service in College Station were in the area, taking samples from a test plot in a field near Wingate.

They were harvesting the wheat from the field owned by Bill Belew and retrieving the seed to compare it to seed newly purchased.

“We are trying to determine which is better and produces the best yield,” Cline explained.

Producers say recent rains are helping prepare them to plant cotton. The deadline for cotton planting is two weeks away.