Wheat harvest is underway in Barton and Pawnee counties with reports of average bushels being harvested.
In Pawnee County, according to the Pawnee County Coop, they are seeing 30-plus bushels per acre, which is about average for the county.
“We are seeing some decent wheat despite the bad weather we have had,” chief financial officer for the Pawnee County Coop Kim Barnes said Tuesday. “We are halfway through harvest here in Pawnee County. We have farmers just about done with harvest, some midway through and some who have not started yet.”
Great Bend is also seeing about average wheat this harvest, according to the Great Bend Coop. Some farmers are encountering wet wheat, which is causing some issues and slowing the process down.
“We are seeing average wheat so far in Barton County,” Great Bend Coop General Manager Frank Riedl said. “There is some wet wheat still out in the county which is problematic for some farmers.”
This year’s wheat harvest so far has seen 30 to 40 bushels per acre with test weights being around 58 to 61 pounds per bushel. Protein is also good, he said.
“We are reaching the midway point in harvest in Barton County,” Riedl said. “It should be in full swing today (Tuesday) as long as the weather holds out.”
Wheat harvest around the state
USDA NASS released the Kansas Crop Progress report on Monday afternoon which estimated that harvest was 23 percent complete at the end of June 17. This is an increase both in comparison to last year (19 percent) and the five-year average of 11 percent.
Winter wheat condition rated 15 percent very poor, 31 poor, 36 fair, 16 good, and 2 excellent. Winter wheat coloring was 94 percent, equal to last year, and ahead of 88 for the five-year average. Mature was 64 percent, ahead of 57 last year.
Jay Armstrong, a farmer from Atchison County, reported that he finished his harvest on Monday. Armstrong’s farm average for his wheat harvest was 61 bushels per acre with a test weight of 59 pounds per bushel.
“We did have small kernels this year which made it difficult to set the combine,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong said that he was especially impressed with the Kansas Wheat Alliance variety Zenda.
“It stood well when we had some pounding rains that actually green snapped corn that was planted around the fields,” said Armstrong.
Wheat harvest doesn’t just stop for farmers when the last swath of a field is cut; marketing decisions are also an important factor weighing on farmers’ minds as their combine header rolls on.
“Our basis here was at five cents per bushel,” reported Armstrong. “I can’t remember when I saw a basis that narrow at harvest.”
Jenny Goering, a farmer in McPherson County, reported that her family operation wrapped up the first leg of their harvest on Saturday. While their ground close to home is harvested, Goering would be heading to western Kansas on Tuesday to start harvesting acreage in Kearny County.
Late season frosts did some damage to Goering’s McPherson County acres.
“Those frosts hurt our crop really badly, especially after it had just barely survived with the drought,” Goering said. “There were a few days in April that just really hurt those yields.”
Those yields ranged 30-32 bushels per acre, a decrease from recent years. Test weights ranged from 60-62 pounds per bushel.
“We’re glad that it’s over, but we’re gearing up to head west,” Goering said. “Now that we’re done here, we would definitely welcome a rain at our Central Kansas farm.”
Craig Bennett, general manager of the Farmers Coop in Abbyville, reported that his location saw their first load of wheat on June 8. At this point, Bennett said, their harvest is nearing 95 percent completion.
“It’s gone pretty fast,” said Bennett. “We had a few sprinkles this afternoon, but that hasn’t slowed them down any.”
Yields for the area are better than expected for many of Bennett’s farmers, but still lower than recent years. Test weights are about 60 pounds per bushel and proteins are running 12 percent and above.
April freezes also affected acres, and yields, near Abbyville this year.
“Late frosts really hurt some of the varieties out there, but some of them held up pretty well, all things considered,” Bennett said.
Combines are rolling quickly along the plains as farmers prepare for rains that may stall their harvest progress. Many areas in south central and eastern Kansas have harvested their final acres, but the race against rain is well under way in western, central and north central portions of the state. While this precipitation is welcome for those who have fall crops, it’s too little, too late for the 2018 Kansas whe at crop.
Jennifer Princ, manager of the Midway Coop Association in Luray, reported that they received their first load on June 14 and are currently around 30 percent complete with the area’s harvest. This year’s yields are averaging around 35-40 bushels per acre, but Princ has heard reports of yields as low as 20 and as high as 67. Princ estimates the final average yield will be well below the area’s normal yield average of 45-50 bushels per acre.
While yields have fallen, Princ said that the average test weight is 61 pounds per bushel. Proteins are averaging 12.4 percent, 1.2 percent higher than 2017.
Lack of moisture isn’t the only thing holding back this year’s crop. Princ said her farmers are reporting quite a few white heads in fields caused by several late freezes. In addition, while ripe wheat is being harvested quickly, there is a bit of green wheat still out in the field.
“There’s still quite a bit of green wheat in some of the fields out there,” said Princ. “If we don’t get the rain that was predicted this week, we’ll probably have some guys who have to stall and wait for their wheat to dry down. It all just varies with variety and plant date.”
Randy Acker, manager of the Meade Coop Elevator in Meade, reports that the area is around 90 percent harvested. If they don’t receive rain, they will wrap up in about two or three days. His location took in its first load on June 9.
“This year will be a short harvest in duration and a short harvest in receipts,” reported Acker. “We didn’t catch enough rain to raise a wheat crop but I am surprised by the quality.”
The Meade Coop Elevator is averaging about 60 pounds per bushel in test weight. While there was no substantial disease pressure in the area, weeds in fields may quickly become a serious issue for farmers who aren’t finished harvesting.
“If it rains, some acres may have to be abandoned because of the excessive weed growth,” said Acker. “Some things you can control, but weather isn’t one of them.”
Terry Mohl, location manager of United Prairie Ag in Hugoton, reported the area is about 50 percent harvested. Mohl said he thinks this year’s yields will be considerably less than average - not great, but better than expected. He expects that when the last bushel has been brought into his location, they will have taken in about half the total bushels they would in an average year. The wheat is averaging 60 pounds per bushel for test weight, and protein is averaging close to 12. Mohl also showed concern for the lack of precipitation in the area.
“We went half a year without any measurable precipitation,” said Mohl. “We have 10 days of harvest left if we don’t get any weather, but the clouds are building up now. It won’t do us any good for our wheat, but the rest of our crops could sure use a drink.”
The 2018 Harvest Report is brought to you 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 #wheatharvest18.