The first few trucks of wheat arrived at the Stafford County Flour Mills elevator in Macksville this week, a sign that harvest may soon begin at full speed in the Golden Belt.
“Just a handful of trucks,” said Branch Manager Erin Woolf. But she expects harvest to be going strong by Friday, “if we don’t get any weather.”
Woolf said a few farmers have brought in coffee-can samples and moisture content ranged from 13.5% to over 16% but averaged around 14.3%. Test weights were 60-61 pounds per bushel.
Derek Foote at Hudson said Macksville was the only elevator at Stafford County Flour Mills that had received wheat this week. “The rain (Friday and Saturday) kind of stopped it,” he said.
Tractors were spotted cutting northeast of Great Bend on Monday and a Pawnee County farmer had hope to be cutting wheat Tuesday. However, the Pawnee County Co-op hadn’t seen any wheat.
At the Great Bend Coop, Operations Manager Dennis Neeland said they have only seen a couple thousand bushels thus far. With spotty cutting now, farmers are saying they will be harvesting come this weekend, weather permitting.
And it has been the weather that has been the story, Neeland said. “To say it’s wet out there is an understatement.”
All the recent rains and flooding may have done a number on the wheat, he said, adding they may have killed off much of the crop.
Monday was day one for the 2019 Kansas Wheat Harvest Reports.
Harvest got off to a slow, labored start in south-central Kansas over the weekend. The normal excitement and anticipation for wheat harvest can hardly be found in the area, as farmers who are normally finished by late June hop into their combines to face the muddy, dreary conditions for the first time this year. Farmers, who are not typically folks who complain about rain, need some hot, dry weather to really get combines rolling.
According to USDA/NASS for the week ending June 23, winter wheat condition rated 4% very poor, 12 poor, 28 fair, 43 good and 13 excellent. Winter wheat coloring was 92%, behind 97 last year. Mature was 47%, well behind 82 last year. Harvested was 5%, well behind 48 last year and 36 for the five-year average.
Mike Snell, manager of the Farmers Coop Equity Co. in Medicine Lodge, reported that his location took in its first load on the 18th, but have only had three dry days since for harvesting. His area, which would have normally finished their harvest this week, is only around five to ten percent harvested. The area received more rain over the weekend which halted progress. It’s too early in the harvest to get a good feel for yields, but test weights (until this week) were hanging at about 62 pounds per bushel. Snell estimates the most recent rains may lower that average by about a pound.
Scott Van Allen, a farmer near Clearwater, reported very similar conditions in his area. So far his family, which is normally completely done with harvest at this point, has only harvested around 250 acres. He estimates that with perfect harvesting conditions, he would need around ten days to wrap up. The one field the Van Allens completed yielded in the mid 40 bushels per acre, and he was pleasantly surprised with test weights ranging from 59-61.5 pounds per bushel.
“Everyone’s got bills to pay, and we have neighbors who are still trying to get milo and soybeans in. The jobs are starting to stack up around here,” said Van Allen. “We were fortunate to escape most of the hail over the weekend, but the longer our wheat sits out there, the more vulnerable it is to Mother Nature’s mood swings.”
The 2019 Harvest Report is provided by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association. To follow along with harvest updates on Twitter, use #wheatharvest19.
Additional reporting by Dale Hogg, Great Bend Tribune.