Texas in the Ocean    

Hello to all our customers and friends,

Well, we finally received some much needed rain or in some cases rain and snow. This was a very general moisture event covering most of the state of Kansas. Was it early enough to save the wheat crop or were the cold snaps and dry soil conditions a one two knockout punch?  I’ve observed quite a variation in fields of wheat in my recent travels. Some fields look very small but viable while the next field appears brown and dead. I was pleasantly surprised a few weeks ago when the wind howled hard for a couple of days and I didn’t see wheat fields blowing dirt. We were so dry and yet back in March and April of 2004 we had dirt filling the ditches east of Beloit. I guess we can credit some of this better air quality to the no-till farming practices and cover crops. The wheat crop is behind in development as by now it should be able to hide a pheasant and currently you could spot a rooster 50 yards away in a wheat field. The recent moisture was helpful but not plentiful, we will need more very soon especially with the forecasted high temperatures. The wheat market gave us a shot last month at an improved outlook by rallying $1.00/bu. from the low at the start of the year and jumped $.60/bu. in 10 days the first of March only to plummet $.70/bu. again in the last 10 days. Corn and beans had the same price trends giving hedging/marketing opportunities for the brave and confident. Recent market cattle have softened to the tune of over $100 per head. They may come back or who knows with President Trump’s potential for trade wars, everything may crash for a while in agriculture.

In my travels my attention has been drawn to the junk blown about on the roadways. The wind several weeks ago has turned many fields and roadsides into trash dumps. In previous newsletters I’ve discussed the lightweight grocery sacks being ingested by cattle and plugging their rumen outlet, stopping passage of feedstuffs through the intestinal tract and starving the animal to death. My title this month of “Texas in the Ocean” is in reference to the gyres in the oceans that collect the trash. The north pacific has an island of floating junk, mostly plastic and Styrofoam, larger in surface area than the state of Texas. This is only one of a half dozen or more gyres and the predictions are that in another 25 years there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. My round about point is that the amount of net wrap, plastic twine, grocery sacks, trash sacks and the like ending up on our rural road ditches are just as alarming and preventable. We can be a little more responsible with these convenience items before they need to be outlawed. Thirty-two countries around the world have banned lightweight plastic bags and some have placed a special tax on heavier plastics. How are the counties going to mow the roadsides with big balls of netwrap laying there that will ball up the mowers?

Until next month,

Myron Wolken, Vice President - Loans