August Rain Causes Havoc for Wheat Farmers - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

August Rain Causes Havoc for Wheat Farmers

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BOZEMAN - The rainy August has an enormous impact on Montana's largest industry, agriculture; not only in the Gallatin Valley, but all across the state. Wheat farmers, in particular, are having a difficult time, as this is the time they would normally be harvesting their crop.

"It has certainly delayed us about a week in our harvesting, and now, we are dealing with the issue of what is called falling numbers,” said Matt Flikkema, a Manhattan wheat farmer and president of the Montana Grain Growers Association.

Over two inches of rain that fell over the last few weeks has caused the wheat to germinate early. This significantly decreases the wheat's value.

Flikkema said, "That has to do with the starch content in wheat and as that degrades, that indicates the degradation of the starch content in the wheat kernels."

The moisture in the wheat fields is also delaying farmers getting their crops to the consumer.

"They are going to store it in their own bins until it can be sampled and they find out what they have got and what they can do with it," Flikkema said.

The reduced quality of wheat in Montana will have a direct impact at the bakeries, as well.

Flikkema said, "The bread will not rise appropriately to the standards of the American consuming public who like their bread soft and fluffy."

Wheat farmers are now just getting into the fields and inspecting the extent of the damage.

"We were able to start this afternoon, as long it dries up again, we've got a little breeze and nice warm temperatures we are starting to roll.” Flikkema said.

Flikkema was in the field Wednesday afternoon working, as were a lot of farmers. They are taking advantage of the warm and dry weather we've had this week. He says they just have to wait and see what they can get out of their crop this year.

The industry of agriculture is the largest industry in Montana. The industry generated over $4 billion in the state last year. According to the Montana Department of Agriculture, there are over 28,000 farms and ranches scattered across the state. On a national scale, Montana's farmers and ranchers add $2 billion to the national economy.

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