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High fuel, operating costs impact farmers as wheat harvest kicks off in south-central Kansas

KINGMAN COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) – The 2022 Kansas wheat harvest is underway and combines are starting to roll across the state. With a prolonged drought and added expense to operating costs, Eyewitness News spoke with a Kingman County farmer who said this year’s crop was different from years past.

High pump prices make this harvest season one of the most expensive in recent memory.

“Diesel and petrol prices have exploded, fertilizer prices have tripled. It’s going to be tough to get there,” Kingman County farmer Tom Sterneker said after . “Right now our wheat seems to be producing half or maybe not quite half of what it has been doing in previous years.

Other operating costs weigh heavily on farmers. Sterneker uses Roundup to kill grass after harvesting wheat. Last year, Roundup was $14 a gallon. This year, a gallon rings for about $48 per gallon.

Wheat producers like Sterneker said they were frustrated with yield rates this year. Sterneker said he averaged 50 to 55 bushels per acre last year. This year he expects about 30 bushels per acre due to the drought. He said farmers like him invest a lot of work during the harvest season and they are unhappy not to get the full return on that investment.

“There’s a lot of hard work and, you know, not being able to reap all the benefits, you know, it’s frustrating,” Sterneker said.

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