The Kansas wheat harvest is officially over halfway done, well ahead of the normal harvest pace, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service in the weekly Crop Progress and Condition report. USDA noted that 59 percent of the wheat crop was harvested as of June 26, compared to 37 percent last year and 40 percent for the five-year average. Statewide, the agency rated the wheat crop’s condition at 29 percent good to excellent, 32 percent fair and 29 percent poor to very poor.
Farmers around Salina attempted to get back into the field on Monday after Saline County received two inches of rain in the middle of last week. Jared Burch, a merchandiser with Hannebaum Grain, Inc., said area yields are not as great as last year, but test weights are staying steady at 59 to 60 pounds per bushel.
Burch noted the area received enough rain to get by with a decent crop, but not enough to call this year’s harvest a success. Protein is the name of the game as he talks with elevators and farmers from across the state as the crop rolls in. He said he is still watching and waiting for good harvest data from the northwest and southwest corners of the state where the harvest is still slowly progressing.
Speaking of the southwest, harvest was under a small rain delay in Finney County on Monday after not receiving adequate moisture for most of the growing season. Michael Wisner, vice president of grain for the Garden City Co-op, reported mixed results across the coop’s draw area, which extends south to Ulysses and then about 100 miles north to the Dighton/Shields area.
In the southern portion of the draw area, some farmers replanted fields to milo and others went ahead and cut fields yielding as low as five bushels an acre. Further north, where farmers received slightly more rainfall, yields are up to 40 to 50 bushels per acre. Proteins are also highly variable across the area, driven by farming practices, levels of inputs and the previous crop. Wisner expects the protein average for the elevator to come in around 12 percent.
Even with the variations, Wisner noted test weights have been “crazy high,” averaging 62 to 63 pounds per bushel and as high as 65 pounds per bushel. He attributed the heavy test weights to the weather pattern a month back that dropped a little rain and stayed overcast and cool for multiple days – all of which allowed kernels to fill.
With 80 percent of harvest complete, Wisner reported no issues with mycotoxins. He expects the area to wrap up harvest by the Fourth of July, earlier and more disappointing than normal.
Russell County will likely still be cutting after the holiday, although Jennifer Princ, manager of the Midway Coop Association, hopes area producers will be back in the field and knocking out a lot of acres this week. The Luray area in Russell County saw a large hailstorm last week that dumped four to five inches of rain in a short time. The hail was localized near town, but several fields had 20 to 40 percent hail damage.
Before the rain, Princ said she didn’t see a test weight below 60 pounds per bushel, mostly 61 to 65 pounds per bushel. But after the storms last week, test weights have fallen to 57 to 59.5 pounds per bushel.
Princ reported yields are averaging between 40 and 60 bushels per acre, with a few farmers reporting yields above 70 bushels per acre. Proteins are above average, but there is a range of good protein and low protein in the area.
“Yields, for the most part, are better than expected,” Princ said. “We were pretty dry for quite a while and farmers are pleasantly surprised with how it’s turning out.”
Chris Tanner, who farms in Norton County, is also happy with his harvest so far. He started cutting last Wednesday and with the help of his crew and his dad pitching in, he anticipates they will wrap up by next week and maybe two weeks left in the area.
“I’m about 25 percent done,” said Tanner. “My area got cranked up and really going yesterday, so everyone is in full swing starting today.”
Overall, Tanner thinks the conditions of the grain are good. Yields have varied for Tanner depending on where he was harvesting. His continuous crop yields are ranging from 20 to 30 bushels per acre and summer fallow ranging from 60 to 75 bushels per acre. Test weights have been ranging from 61 to 65 pounds per bushel with proteins averaging around 13 percent. A majority of his wheat crop is the Grainfield variety, with some Bob Dole planted as well.
Compared to last year, Tanner noted they were in the field two weeks earlier. Yields this year are around 20 percent less than last year, driven by drought conditions throughout the growing season. Looking forward, his concerns mirror the rest of the state – watching increased fuel prices, input availability and an early harvest.