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Next Generation Farming

Wheat Harvest Early and Unpredictable

Wheat Harvest Early and Unpredictable
Wheat harvest has been the earliest and most unpredictable in memory

Harvest 2012 has been nothing short of bizarre. Normally, harvest in our region of west-central Kansas starts around June 20. But this year, we cut our first field on May 28 following a very mild winter, the second hottest March on record, and having virtually no precipitation in May (historically our wettest month of the year).

Results also haven't been impressive. Yields have been all over the board with lows in the single digits and highs reaching almost 60 bu/acre – even within the same field.

Wheat harvest has been the earliest and most unpredictable in memory.

And, thanks to the unevenness in maturity this year, big swings in moisture levels have thrown a wrench into harvest. If wheat is too wet – above 12% moisture – problems occur later in the season with mold and insects in the grain bin. For most wheat hauled to the elevator, this is rarely a problem since elevators have the ability to blend. But since we store mostly on-farm with each variety segregated in individual grain bins to be cleaned and sold as seed, blending on-farm isn't an option. Cutting only dry wheat minimizes that problem. As a result of cutting only sub-12% wheat to keep moisture down in the bin, harvest has come in fits and starts.

That's also made this the longest harvest in memory. Already in our second week of harvesting, we're well beyond the 7-10 days it normally takes to bring the crop in. With green streaks still in some fields, we still have at least another week to go. 

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