Slow Start to Harvest

Wheat harvest in Kansas is starting off slow, with some farmers test cutting in south central Kansas as early as June 7. The outlook of rain in the forecast really got combines rolling on June 13, but storms moved through the area again Tuesday evening and sent farmers out of the fields. Rainfall amounts ranged from .70″ in Hutchinson to over 2″ in Newton.

Martin Kerschen, a Garden Plain area wheat farmer, reported that he received an inch of rain late last week, but he has no complaints. He has harvested about 15,000 bushels so far, and yields are ranging from 30 to 45 bushels per acre on continuous wheat fields.

“We’ve received only 6″ of rain on this wheat, with 3 ½″ coming in the last month and salvaging a dismal crop,” he said, crediting excellent genetics for its drought tolerance. Before the rain, he started harvesting a double crop field of wheat after corn, and it was averaging only about 15 bushels per acre.

Corey Meal of MKC’s Castleton location reported that they took in their first load on June 9. While it’s very early in harvest, so far test weights are averaging 61 pounds and protein 11.5%. Moisture is still high, with Tuesday’s wheat at 14-15% moisture.

Meal expects the location will see fewer bushels this year, only 60 to 75% of last year. While a few fields in the area have been baled for straw, the lower bushels are primarily due to lower yields this year caused by the ongoing drought. He said he’s seen fields in the area with some weed pressure coming in.

Chris Stevens of Farmers Coop Grain Assn in Conway Springs reported they took in their first load on June 7, but they’re only 5-8% complete so far.

“Harvest just can’t get going,” he said, reporting that they’ve received hit and miss showers over the last week. Stevens expects to take in only half of the bushels they normally receive, saying yields in the area aren’t good and will probably average about half of last year’s yields.

One potential bright spot is that the test weights are decent, above 60 pounds per bushel so far, and he thought yields may end up being a bit better than farmers expected before they received some early summer rains.

He says harvest will wrap up in about 14 days once it gets started. Forecasts for next week are calling for hot and dry weather, but they called for that this week and it ended up raining several days. Stevens said weeds are coming into the fields.

For farmers who are seeing weed pressure, there are a few options available. Farmers should contact their local extension office or agronomist for herbicide choices. In addition, Sarah Lancaster, KSU Weed Management Specialist, authored an article on pre-harvest weed control in wheat. It’s avaliable at