Many farmers are still reporting good yields as harvest hits the halfway mark in Kansas.

In Hamilton County, Melanie Eddy reported that her family’s harvest has had a stuttering start thanks to rain over the past week. However, she said that her family still has more than a week of cutting left, provided that they get the dry weather to do it.

Yields have averaged around 70 bushels an acre, a total that has been unheard of in the area for the last several years.

“I think we had one year where we averaged 12 bushels an acre, thanks to the drought,” said Eddy. “I’m sure that if you added up the last five years’ worth of averages, you wouldn’t even hit 70 bushels an acre.”

Near Beloit, farmer Michael Jordan said the early spring outlook for the wheat was grim. However, that changed thanks to timely rains.

“We weren’t really expecting much of a crop at all,” said Jordan. “We only had about one inch of precipitation from the beginning of the year to the end of April, so we were sure it was a goner. Then we got 15 inches of rain in five weeks, so now it’s not too shabby, even with some hail damage.”

Jordan said that one field was averaging 71 bushels an acre, even with 20 percent hail damage.

Ken Wood, a farmer from Chapman whose farm was hit by a tornado in May, reported that the fields he has been able to harvest have been better than average.

“The real story down here is that harvest was very slow going this year,” said Wood. “A lot of the wheat was knocked over flat on the ground, and there was even some green-looking wheat, so we’ve had to chew through it all.”

Cutting near the areas affected by the tornado has been a challenge over the last few days since dodging debris is not one of the many strengths of combines.

“We weren’t able to harvest some areas of fields just because there were too many large pieces of debris; it just wasn’t worth it,” said Wood. “The area in the vortex of the tornado looked like it had already been harvested by a stripper header; the heads had just ripped off.”

In its weekly report released Monday, the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service stated the state’s wheat harvest is 58 percent complete, well ahead of the five-year average of 50 percent.

According to the statistics service, southeast Kansas has cut 91 percent of its wheat and south-central is at 74 percent. Southwestern farmers are at 50 percent and central Kansas has cut 78 percent.

Harvest is just beginning in northwest Kansas.

Regarding the wheat still awaiting the combine, KASS rated it as 64 percent good to excellent. Another 28 percent is in fair condition, and 8 percent is poor to very poor.

Jason Ochs, a farmer from Syracuse, said his harvest this year is “way better” than the last few. He reported that he is seeing an average of 50 bushels an acre consistently in fields, and that test weights have held at around 63-64 pounds per bushel.

“I started farming full time in 2011 and the last five years probably averaged out to 15 bushels an acre,” said Ochs. “It’s nice to have my first ‘big harvest.’ I’m also excited that we’ll actually have residue for cover this year, which will help the future crops that we’ll have.”

Gary Gantz from D.E. Bondurant Grain Co. in Ness City reported that the area is seeing an average yield that is pushing 50 bushels per acre. Test weights are averaging above 60 pounds per bushel, and protein content is a little more than 11 percent. He estimates that the area is around 90 percent harvested.

“Our last good crop was in 2011,” said Gantz. “I think this is going to be double of what we have had the last few years.”

- Source: Kansas Wheat