Wheat harvest started in spots around Great Bend about ten days ago, been interrupted by rains, and slowed by high humidities. As of Thursday, the reports are pretty much what was expected with a few pleasant surprises. There was a fair amount of wheat south of Great Bend and in other areas baled, chopped, or killed off. Of the wheat being cut reports range from the teens to a lot of twentyish bushels per acre to sporadic reports of 35 and even 40 bushels per acre in select areas. Test weight reports are plus or minus 60 pounds per bushel with many reports in the 58 to 59 pound range. This isn’t surprising after the recent rains but is still acceptable as quality grade.
One problem encountered with cutting is the abundance of summer annual weeds growing rapidly with recent rains and thin stands. Some producers had skipped herbicides because of the uncertainty of the crop and that has further exacerbated weed problems. It’s not that they are dramatically hampering harvest but they slow threshing and can add foreign matter and higher grain moistures. For certain fields, mud holes are a problem but a welcome one to deal with. So to finish off the wheat harvest, farmers need dry weather and will make rapid progress when they can get into the field. The harvest is pretty much what was expected for the area without the pleasant surprises found last year. Quality is adequate and should remain so if rains don’t cause the crop to deteriorate. Now, where are we in terms of the drought?
The weekly drought monitor map released June 19 (current through June 17) shows some easing of the drought. More of the area has improved to the Severe Drought category but much of western Stafford and Barton remain in the Extreme Drought category. In English, the rains have certainly helped but continued rains are needed not just to replenish soil and subsoil moisture but to continue crop development and finish the crop. Compared to the last two years, especially two years ago, corn and soybeans look good although a bit behind in development and sorghum that has emerged looks great but young. What is most heartening to many area producers is the improved conditions of pastures although it will take time and careful grazing management for pastures to fully recover.