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      Panhandle wheat harvest in full swing

      After a tough start, this year's wheat crop could be better than most expected.

      "Dry fall, very dry winter, lates freezes, insects, a lot of things we're going wrong with this crop," said Dr. Brent Bean, The AgriLife Extension Agronomist for the Texas Panhandle.

      "More recently, in the last six weeks we've had cooler temperatures coupled with some rain and that's helped," said Bean.

      Around half of all the wheat in the Texas Panhandle is dry land, with no irrigation. The farmers who produce this crop depend on mother nature to provide the right conditions for a good crop.

      "Everything that we planted early enough that had a good start at the beginning of the fall has held on, caught some moisture here lately to make a descent crop I think," said Brittan Gruhlkey, a 3rd generation wheat farmer.

      "It's looking better than I thought it would, considering the winter we've had, it wasn't extremely great for the wheat in the area," said Gruhlkey.

      From the beginning of June up until the fourth of July, Panhandle wheat farmers will be busy harvesting. The process starts back in September and a lot of work and patience finally comes to fruition when they get to harvest. Of course harvest time means a bit of a boost in the Panhandle economy.

      "It's every farmers pay day in this area if they're growing wheat, so it's hard not to be excited," said Gruhlkey.

      "We've been fortunate and blessed in the Panhandle that even though it's not going to be a great crop, it's going to be a good crop, which means farmers are going to have some money in their pockets and they're going to be able to spend money in the towns, in Amarillo, and hopefully everybody is going to benefit a little from the wheat crop," said Bean.

      Wheat prices are sitting pretty good right now, the demand is good also, and those two things combined may help contribute to a good harvest for local farmers.

      It's hard to say what this year's crop will look like opposed to years past, but the harvesting will be over around the fourth of July, giving agronomists a chance to look back and evaluate this year's crop in the Panhandle.

      For now though, farmers are glad to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

      "It's exciting because it's pay day, so it doesn't matter if you got wheat in the field or not, we're excited to cut it," said Gruhlkey.