Kansas Wheat Harvest Progressing

Wheat harvest has been marching on for nearly two weeks in Cowley County, with numerous interruptions from rain, reported Kevin Kelly, general manager of Two Rivers Coop in Arkansas City. Harvest started in the area around June 7 and quality appears to be good with proteins in the 14 percent range.

Kelly said test weights are starting to decline slightly, due to most producers cutting their best fields first, but are still averaging 59 to 60 pounds per bushel. Overall, harvest results are dependent upon when the crop was planted — earlier-planted wheat has not fared as well as later-planted fields. While it was dry for a long period after the first of the year, the area did catch a few rains when the crop was filling, contributing to better-than-expected quality.

The co-op expects to take in about half the wheat of a five-year-average for wheat harvest, and harvest in the area is about 20 percent complete. Kelly said most of that will be processed domestically at U.S. flour mills, due to the need for bushels and a strong U.S. dollar that disincentivizes exports.

Just three counties to the west in Barber County, farmers are sending in quite a few samples, but moisture remains at 15 to 16 percent, according to Sarah Dodge, grain merchandiser with Farmers Coop Equity Co., in Isabel and Medicine Lodge. Producers are hoping this week’s hot and windy weather will mean harvest will be in full swing soon.

While the Medicine Lodge area did receive close to an inch from every storm system that has come through in the last few weeks, the rain is too little, too late to help the wheat crop in the area. Farmers are now seeing weeds that have popped up in the fields. Spotty hail damage added insult to injury for some.

“A little damage goes a long way in this poor crop,” Dodge said.

Dodge reported the 10-year-average for the co-op’s intake is a little over three million bushels. Last year wasn’t even half and this year if the co-op sees one million bushels, it would be a welcome surprise. Still, some producers are hopeful for some decent fields left standing, with the best expected to average 35 to 50 bushels per acre. Most of that wheat is likely headed up to flour mills near Kansas City, but Dodge is holding out for quality data before contracting.

Spotty, scattered rains late in the season is also the drumbeat across Wilson County in southeast Kansas. Nicole Small, who farms near Neodesha, said the first measurable rain came in May, when parts of the area got up to 5.8 inches of rain, while farms just eight miles away are still rated in D4 (exceptional) drought.

Small and her family expect to cut 800 of the 1,000 acres they planted to wheat this year, noting that the wheat was planted into milo stalks and partially grazed due to a shortage of forage. Those who have received moisture are battling seeps in the field with standing water and green sucker heads that make harvest a slog.

They have cut 200 acres so far with results all over the board. Yields for their fields are around 45 bushels per acre with acceptable test weights, while some neighbors are reporting upwards of 60 bushels per acre and others much lower.

Variability will continue to be a theme for the 2023 Kansas wheat crop as harvest continues to expand out from the southern central and southeastern portions of the state.

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 Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share your harvest story and photos.