Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mountains: Kansas Style

On trips to Colorado, this native flatlander Kansan is always searching the horizon for the first glimpse of the mountains. Even as a child, I remember the anticipation, searching for the shadowy hint of the peaks against the sky.

This fall, as we've driven into Stafford, my farmer has been scanning the scenery, too, watching to see the piles of milo and corn develop into their own farm-country version of mountains. They may not be Pike's Peak. But they are pretty impressive nonetheless.
We haven't raised milo for the past three years, but we have watched the milo mountains grow this fall at both the Stafford and Zenith locations of the Kanza Co-op. (It was a great year for milo, so, as Murphy's Law would have it, we didn't raise any.)
As of October 26, the Kanza Cooperative, where we haul our grain, had corn receipts of 8.2 million bushels and milo stores of 1.2 million bushels. Kanza Co-op has 10 locations in South Central Kansas.
There at two on-the-ground milo piles at both Stafford and Zenith, two of Kanza's branches. To me, they look a little like one of those sand art projects, but we'd need a mighty big jar to contain them.

Milo is having a bit of a revival as a fall crop in Kansas. Last year, Kansas farmers sold milo (AKA grain sorghum) to China. In fact, in 2014, more than 85 percent of the U.S.’s sorghum was shipped to China.
Last month, Kansas welcomed six grain buyers from South America. They went to several Kansas locations to see how milo is turned into livestock feed, fuel for vehicles and food for human consumption. The six buyers from Colombia and Peru toured milo country from Texas to western and central Kansas.
Portable unloading auger at the Stafford branch of the co-op
In Kansas alone, 3.15 million acres were planted to milo, up 17 percent from 2014, according to the October report from the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service. Kansas production is forecast at 258 million bushels, up 29 percent from last year. Additionally, sorghum has caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Energy, which, earlier this year, announced providing $30 million in funding for research on better varieties of sorghum – such as for drought tolerance and better biofuels.
Bunker filled with corn, Stafford branch, Kanza Co-op
In addition to the milo piles, the Kanza Co-op has bunkers filled with corn at four of its locations. (Our County Line dryland corn was a bust, but irrigated corn in this region did well this year.)
Three of the four piles of grain at the Stafford branch of the co-op
It's even more unusual to have piles of grain on the ground at the Zenith branch, where we take the majority of our grain.
But there are two milo piles there, too, and we see a few fields still left to harvest in our area. 
After harvest, the piles will likely be trucked away, leaving us with our flat landscape once again.


  1. Wow we do not see this around here probably out west though. Beautiful. Hug B

    1. We usually have corn bunkers, but we don't always have so much milo on the ground.