Harvest Behind Last Year’s Pace

The Kansas wheat harvest is 21 percent complete, well behind 54 percent last year and 38 percent for the five-year average, according to the official statistics provided by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service crop progress report for the week ending June 25, 2023. Maturity was rated at 58 percent, also behind 84 percent last year and the 77 percent five-year average.

Winter wheat conditions were rated at 53 percent very poor to poor, 31 percent fair and 16 percent good to excellent.

After several delays, Kansas farmers are finally seeing harvest weather. With this week’s hot temperatures, harvest is ramping up.

In Rice County in south-central Kansas, Brian Sieker has been cutting a sparse wheat crop a few miles west of Chase.

“I am pretty fortunate we even have wheat to cut this year,” Sieker said.

In the fall, the wheat was off to what looked like a great start, but as the year progressed, snows and rain events seemed a thing of the past, and the wheat used up any residual moisture. Now, with harvest in full swing around the area, some neighbors did not even bother to bring out their combines, opting to abandon their wheat and move on to a different crop.

For Sieker, yields have ranged as high as mid-thirties down into the teens. Moisture was normal at 11 percent and the test weights in some of his nearby fields were doing fairly well at 60 pounds per bushel.

“You go further west, they have it worse,” Sieker said. “We are just thankful to have some fields worth cutting.”

On top of the usual hustle and bustle of wheat harvest, it has been extra busy with Sieker switching between a combine cab with a swather cab depending on the current state of dew points and humidity as he also produces alfalfa hay, corn, soybeans and sorghum.

Eastern Kansas farmers who escaped the extreme drought conditions are seeing different yield results. In Montgomery County, sixth-generation farmer Jesse Muller started cutting his hard red winter wheat on June 13 but also had delays due to rain. Farming the land that has been in his family for multiple generations makes farming significantly more meaningful for Muller. This year’s crop, unlike other parts of the state, has Muller needing to calibrate his combine more often.

Muller is seeing a wide variety of yields across his fields, ranging anywhere from 20 bushels per acre in some spots up above 70 to 80 bushels per acre in others. Test weights are averaging above 60 pounds per bushel in his fields, which were planted to a Kansas Wheat Alliance variety with excellent head scab tolerance.

“Yields are better than expected on most fields, especially following corn due to the excess nitrogen from last year,” Muller said, explaining that his family was lucky to be in the pocket that received rains when they needed them.

“We’re seeing a wide array of variability, with some bright spots and some expected frustrations of lower-than-average yields, and some disastrous yields,” said Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin. “Overall, reported yields range from ten to 70 bushels per acre, with the averages in the 30s from what I’ve seen. I’ve also heard a lot of reports of proteins above 12%.”

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The 2023 Harvest Report is brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, Kansas Grain and Feed Association and the Kansas Cooperative Council. To follow along with harvest updates on Twitter, use #wheatharvest23. Tag us at @kansaswheat on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to share your harvest story and photos.