Harvest Moving Across Kansas

Many Kansas wheat farmers are relieved to have a crop to harvest this year, remaining optimistic and pleasantly surprised with the good-yielding, good-quality crop, even as harvest progresses into areas where fields were impacted by an inconsistent mix of freeze damage, stripe rust pressure, rain and hail.

Harvest delivery is in full swing at Ardent Mills, which unloaded 150 trucks at its facility in Newton on Tuesday, June 11. Harvest is roughly 10 percent complete and Pam Bowles, assistant administrative manager, expects another week of peak harvest.

Farmers delivering wheat to the mill are reporting yields ranging from 40 bushels per acre up to 70 bushels per acre. At the mill, test weights are steady around 62 pounds per bushel and the protein average is 11.3 percent.

“Everyone seems to be in a good mood,” Bowles said. “We are planning for an above-average year this year.”

Troy Smith, who farms near Walton in Harvey County, is also pleasantly surprised with this year’s harvest, having started cutting his KS Zenda earlier this week — on track with normal pace. He attributes using cow manure as his primary fertilizer and heavy moisture over Thanksgiving weekend as keys to this year’s success.

“What made this year so good was the snow that came during the Iowa State/K-State football game, honestly!” he said.

His average yield is 67 bushels per acre with average test weight of 60.8 pounds per bushel and average protein at 13.13 percent.

Also in Harvey County, James Mosiman described this year’s harvest as a “night and day difference” compared to last year, speaking volumes about what good weather, sound farming practices and resilient varieties can produce when everything comes together.

The Mosiman family started harvesting on Thursday, June 6, about a week ahead of schedule. Beyond a delay from an inch of rain over last weekend, they have not encountered many challenges this year. He reported seeing small amounts of stripe rust, a common obstacle for many farmers this year.

Mosiman happily mentioned fields are yielding a promising 60 bushels per acre. Reflecting on the culmination of months of hard work, he summed this year’s harvest up by saying, “It’s just nice to cut a crop.”

In neighboring Reno County, Brandon Frederick is helping his grandfather VJ Blubaugh harvest wheat near Burrton. Storms the week before Memorial Day weekend blew over pivots on their irrigated wheat. On Thursday, June 13, they were cutting in a pocket where one side of the road got an inch of rain, but the other side had nothing more than sprinkle.

The operation grazes a lot of their wheat, which is in crop rotation with sudan. This year, they put out 105 head on the ground for 120 days, ending the grazing season with an average daily gain of 3.0 pounds.

Both grandfather and grandson are thrilled to harvest a crop this year, after having to swath the entirety of their wheat crop last year. Fields planted to WestBred varieties are yielding between 40 and 70 bushels per acre, with test weights of 61-62 pounds per bushel and proteins ranging from 12 to 12.3 percent.

“As much as I love having food for my cows, I love seeing a cash crop come up and go all the way to harvest,” Frederick said.

The harvest crew was hustling to repair combines and keep cutting ahead of forecasted thunderstorms in Barton County, according to Dean Stoskopf, who farms near Hoisington. His first two fields — both planted to PlainsGold Whistler — had yields of 45 and 50 bushels per acre. Moisture is between 11.5 and 14.5 percent with test weights ranging from 59.5 to 61.5 pounds per bushel and protein hitting 11.5 to 14 percent.

Yields are better than expected, but Stoskopf noted he is cutting some of his best fields first and expects yields to go down as harvest progresses. Within fields, he remarked that prolonged drought conditions and freeze damage caused a lot of inconsistency with stands, noting he feels like he’s cutting 60-bushel wheat or five-bushel wheat with nothing in between. Still, he feels optimistic after consecutive years of near-total crop failures and expects to be done cutting within two weeks — hopefully just in time to watch the grandkids show at the county fair the last week of June.

“We have cut more wheat in the last day and a half than we did all last year,” Stoskopf said. “So far we’ve been pleasantly surprised with yields, but fields are highly variable.”

Stay tuned for the next Kansas wheat harvest report on Monday, June 17.

The 2024 Harvest Reports are 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, use #wheatharvest24 on social media. Tag us at @kansaswheat on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to share your harvest story and photos.