Wednesday evening, people could see the familiar dust cloud of a harvester cutting wheat near the Great Bend Municipal Airport on West Barton County Road. It was a welcome sight after a brief but windy rainstorm blew through Tuesday night, threatening hail. More chance of rain was in the forecast for Thursday night.
Great Bend Co-op grain merchandiser Matt Penka said Thursday that things got started Wednesday night, and should be in full swing by Sunday or Monday. He expects to see plenty of activity at Great Bend as well as the co-op’s other locations through the weekend.
Andrew Fullerton, merchandising manager at Bartlett Grain, also started to see their first trucks Wednesday. So far, yields are in line or slightly above the state average. Once harvest is in full swing, he anticipates unloading 35 to 40 trucks an hour.
Bartlett is focused on exporting as much grain out of this area as they can, and Fullerton has been pleased with the number of trains they are loading out.
“Area farmers and grain handling customers can count on getting their trucks unloaded quick and getting a very competitive price for the local market,” Fullerton said. “We will be unloading from 7 a.m. to midnight.”
Field by field
Barton County Extension Ag Agent Alicia Boor said cutting hasn’t quite started in the northern tier of the county, but should by the weekend. She hadn’t heard any test weights but said, so far, things are looking okay.
“Barton County was a little hit and miss,” she said. “Some parts of the county experienced a little freeze, some hail, and of course the tornado last month. It’s really been field by field. It’s definitely not like last year.”
In parts of western Kansas where blizzards and hail occurred in late winter, some farmers will not have a wheat harvest. While those losses have had a slight effect on prices, the USDA projections of a half-year of wheat being carried over from last year are keeping price per bushel from seeing any significant upward movement.
USDA last week forecast an average Kansas wheat yield of 44 bushels, which would be down from last year’s 57. Statewide production was forecast at 303.6 million on 6.9 million acres, compared with 467.4 million bushels from 8.2 million acres in 2016.