Your premier wheat, triticale and rye seed dealer in western Kansas

Ehmke Seed is a family-owned seed company with a long history on the High Plains. Our farm goes back to the pioneer days in 1885 when the Ehmkes emigrated from Germany in search of a brighter future in Lane County, Kansas.

Four generations later in 1986, Vance Ehmke and his wife Louise saw an opportunity to grow their own certified seed wheat for themselves and local farmers. Wanting to try something different, Vance and Louise experimented with growing triticale seed and found it was a huge success with cattlemen and dairies across the High Plains. Now in the fifth generation, the tradition continues.

Ehmke Seed has grown to be one of the premier wheat, triticale and rye seed dealers in western Kansas. The focus at Ehmke Seed continues to be bringing high-quality seed and years of knowledge and expertise to our customers. That’s why nearly all of our seed is grown and sold right here on the Ehmke farm in west-central Kansas. Ehmke Seed grows top-performing wheat varieties for the central and southern plains, as well as world-class triticale and rye varieties for forage growers looking to get more out of their livestock investment.

  • Drought Drags On

    By Vance Ehmke

    For those of us who were hoping our current hard case drought would dry up and blow away, the reality is anything but. Instead, the new 3-month forecast promises more of the same and a lot of it.

    Last fall when talking with Jeff Hutton from the National Weather Service in Dodge City, he speculated that 2022 was starting to look a lot like l956. Of course, anyone who knows anything about Kansas weather over the past 150 years knows that is the one single year you do not want to be like. It was the driest year in Kansas history.

    Like 1956, our current drought didn’t just start last fall. According to our weather records, this drought started two years earlier. In 2020, we recorded 15.68 inches of total precip while in ’21, we received 16.85 inches against an average of roughly 19 inches a year of rain and snowmelt.

    But this year we’re going over the edge. Halfway through the year we’ve received just over 6 inches of total precip when we should have gotten just over 10.  And the crops show it. After a five or 10-mile trip around the farm, you pass field after field of dryland corn and milo that has the slimmest of odds of surviving. Some of those you hope will produce enough ground cover to keep the ground from blowing next spring.

    Still, one thing I’ve learned in this business is that you’ve got to be careful who you whine around—because somebody else always has it worse. Take Garden City, for example. Their official recording station, I’m told, is out at the airport. And so far this year, that spot on the earth has gotten only 1.94 inches of total precip.

    So what about that new forecast? If you like hot and dry, you’ll love it. After a hotter and drier than normal July, NOAA says the next three months of August, September and October will be exactly the same—hot and dry.

    Jeff Hutton thinks much of our current weather pattern is tied to what is now three years of cooling of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Apparently that is a long time and is not a good thing because he adds that some long range hemispheric models are now pushing for the same equatorial Pacific conditions to continue unabated.

    “So, IF much of the current weather pattern is tied to that area, then we could be in store for a long period of dryness going into October.

    “But a new weather pattern establishes every fall and even with the same Pacific conditions, our area could still benefit with just minor shifts in weather systems,” Jeff says. “Still, I’m just not optimistic at this point—which means there is a risk that overall dryness will continue into 2023.”

    However, there is some good news in all of this…….I guess.  Jeff says if 2023 is dry, it probably won’t be as dry as this year. Gee thanks!

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    marit34Drought Drags On
  • Even at $12, Wheat May Lose Money

    By Vance Ehmke

    The good news is we have $12 wheat prices. The bad news is because of low projected yields caused by the on-going drought, many western Kansas wheat fields will do no better than break even.

    Incredible as it may seem, even with the highest price of all time, at least half of the western Kansas wheat fields will actually lose money. And that is because of low yields. In recently released USDA yield projections, many counties like Lane, Scott, Wichita and Greeley will average about 27 bushels per acre.

    As you know, in an average, half of the yields will be higher than 27 bushels per acre while half will be lower than 27. And if you’re in that bottom half, you’ve got a problem because your gross per acre is not going to cover all of your production costs.

    Using K-State’s crop production budgets for southwest Kansas dryland wheat, with a price of $7.67 and a yield of 43 bushels per acre, breakeven gross is $322/acre. So while we have a lot higher price and a much lower yield, our breakeven gross remains the same. Today with $12 wheat and a yield of 27, we’re grossing only $324/acre. Bottom line is we are barely going to break even. Please cancel my order on the new Chevy pickup!

    Things are slightly better if you look at the entirety of western Kansas where yields are projected to average just over 30 bushels per acre. With $12 wheat, High Plains wheat farmers should make between $35 and $40/acre. That assumes, however, yields don’t decline further because of continued lack of rainfall….and that our cost of production stops going up. And believe you me, I’m not betting very big on either one of those things breaking in my favor.

    As you move into central Kansas, the economics look better because many of those counties have projected yields in the mid-40s.

    So at the end of the day, what does all this mean? Looks like the wise old man was right: “There’s a reason why wheat goes to $12……….you ain’t got any!”

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    wheatrancherEven at $12, Wheat May Lose Money

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-Earl Butz, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

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