Kansas wheat growers are speeding through the harvest this year, aided by hot and windy weather drying down the crop in a timely fashion.
Kansas Wheat reported that harvest is progressing north through the state. According to the June 19 USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service crop progress report, 27% of the crop has been harvested, ahead of 11% last year and the five-year-average of 18% at this time. USDA NASS rated the crop’s condition at 27% good to excellent, 33% fair and 40% poor to very poor.
In Cowley County, yields on June 21 were running below the five-year average, according to Kevin Kelly, general manager of Two Rivers Co-op in Arkansas City, Kan. Combines are making quick work of fields, according to Kansas Wheat.
Kelly reported that farmers faced a double-edged sword in regard to moisture. On one side, the moisture they did get dried quickly, so there was reduced disease pressure for the area. However, on the other side, farmers who plan to double-crop soybeans or have corn tasseling in fields are eager for rain to return. According to Kelly, the crop mixture in the county has switched in the past few years to more soybeans than wheat. So, this dry weather means the co-op can hold onto the 2022 wheat harvest a bit longer than it normally would before cleaning out the bins to make way for the fall harvest, according to Kansas Wheat’s report.
It wouldn’t be wheat harvest if there wasn’t hail, and unfortunately the farmers in a 10-mile radius of Co-op Grain & Supply in Bazine, Kan., saw about 5,000 acres hit by two hailstorms in June.
General manager Michael Kempke reported to Kansas Wheat that even with those storms zeroing out some fields, harvest has been better than expected for such a dry year.
“Continuous wheat fields are yielding between 25 to 35 bushels per acre, whereas summer fallow fields are yielding around 45 bushels per acre,” Kempke reported to Kansas Wheat. “Test weights are good at 62 pounds per bushel, and protein is averaging 11.3%.”
Kempke also reported that wheat acres were already down in the area, with more producers rotating into sorghum to meet rapidly increasing international demand.
Notes from the field
Other notes from farmers in the wheat field include:
- This is the year to test the drought tolerance of our public and private wheat varieties: varieties like Hatchett and Zenda from Kansas Wheat Alliance.
- Matching up with what farmers predicted in April and May, extreme drought in western Kansas really hit yields. Reports of 9 to 25 bushels per acre were found in the area, but anything over 20 bushels would be a stretch.
- Crawford County is starting to harvest what little soft red winter wheat there is growing in the state. This wheat will be sold to domestic flour mills in the Kansas City area. Early yield reports are 80 to 100 bushels per acre, with average test weights in the 60.8 pound-per-bushel range., according to Brice Elnicki, general manager and CEO of Producers Co-op Association in Girard.
Kansas Wheat contributed to this article.