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Wheat passes halfway point

This is day 7 of the Kansas Wheat Harvest Reports, brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, Kansas Grain and Feed Association and the Kansas Cooperative Council.

According to the June 23 USDA/NASS Kansas Crop Progress and Condition Report, winter wheat harvested was 53%, well ahead of 17% last year and 25% for the five-year average. Winter wheat mature was 94%, well ahead of 53% last year and 65% average. Kansas winter wheat condition rated 8% very poor, 15% poor, 35% fair, 36% good and 6% excellent.

Wheat harvest is just getting started in northwest Kansas, while south central areas are wrapping things up after last week’s rains.

The central parts of Kansas — from Dodge City to Great Bend to Hutchinson and beyond — were hit hard with the drought this spring. 

After missing rain during most of the growing season, John Hildebrand of Stafford reports rain finally came a couple weeks ago – after the wheat was ripe, which delayed the beginning of harvest. The Hildebrands were able to start harvest on June 13 and were in the home stretch on the afternoon of June 24. 

Overall, it was a hard year, due to lack of moisture and weed pressure.

“We have weed pressure in our area,” Hildebrand said. “Thin stands and rain before harvest is the perfect recipe for weeds to come through.” 

Hildebrand reports yields to be about the same as last year, which was also below average. Test weights range from 56 pounds per bushel to 59 pounds per bushel. 

In Rice County, near Chase, Doug Keesling says this year’s crop is three times better than last year; however, last year’s yields were only in the single digits.

“In general, this wasn’t a perfect crop, but this was the best crop we’ve been able to harvest in the past three years,” Keesling said, “We need to be thankful for the blessings that we have, and this year we were able to get a decent harvest.” Two-thirds of his acres last year were abandoned due to drought.

Keesling farms in both Rice and Barton counties and his best-performing wheat variety, Bob Dole, yielded an average of 25 bushels per acre, had a test weight of 57 pounds per bushel and had an average of 13.5% protein this year. 

Keesling started cutting his wheat on June 7 and only has a mud spot left before he wraps up. While wrapping up wheat harvest, he still has some catching up to do with his double crop sorghum and soybeans. 

“We are able to plant a lot faster than we’re able to spray our double crop,” he said. “The wind storms we had last week and the strong winds lately have put a pause on us spraying; otherwise, we’d be done double-cropping.” 

Mike Jordan of Beloit in Mitchell County got his combines rolling on June 14 and is about halfway done with harvest. He reported a wide range of yields that will probably result in an overall average harvest for the year. After a year of sparse rain in his area, Jordan was pleasantly surprised as he started cutting.

“The wheat is better than it looks, which is a tribute to the genetics,” Jordan said, “When we finally got the rain this spring, we got the bushels there.” 

He is hoping for an average of 50 bushels per acre with conditions of fields on both ends of the spectrum. Some of the lower-yielding fields had a delayed start and did not come up until January; luckily there was some late rain that rescued those fields. He reported proteins ranging from 12 percent to 15 percent and test weights around 61 pounds per bushel. Jordan said his star variety was Westbred’s WB 4401.

Variability continues to be the theme of this year’s wheat harvest across the state. Keep watch for the next Kansas Wheat harvest report on Tuesday, June 25, 2024.

By Julia Debes for Kansas Wheat. To follow along with harvest updates, use #wheatharvest24 on social media. Tag us at @kansaswheat on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share your harvest story and photos.