The state’s speedy wheat harvest is coming to a close.
Rainfall across Kansas delayed harvest in some areas, but wheat cutting is ahead of schedule compared to past years. Winter wheat harvested was at 92 percent as of last week, ahead of last year’s 90 percent and the five-year average 85 percent, according to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service crop condition report.
The Colby, Kansas area had one of its fastest harvests this year, Cornerstone Ag Manager Eric Sperber said in a release. Harvest is estimated at 80 to 90 percent complete in the area.
Western Kansas wheat not only suffered from drought stress and frost damage this year but also frequent hail.
"We have had five hail events since June 19, and fields that were missed from the previous storms got hit this time,” Sperber said. “Overall, the crop has good quality. Unfortunately, we lost fields due to the hail storms."
He said the area lost anywhere from 750,000 to one million bushels of wheat this harvest. Some fields yielded nothing, while others were in the mid-70s. The average yield for the area, and much of the state, was between 30 and 40 bushels per acre.
A large hail storm also hit Scott, Ness and Lane counties in May, destroying entire fields. Yields in Lane County have ranged from 10 to 50 bushels per acre.
Rainfall delayed harvest in Edwards County, but the area finished up harvest last week. According to John Lightcap, general manager of Offerle Coop Grain Supply Co., yields for continuous crop fields averaged around 20 bushels per acre. In fallow, fields averaged around 45 to 50 bushels per acre.
Rain also caused weed growth in Edwards County. According to Lightcap, many farmers sprayed, keeping them out of fields longer.
"Prior to the rain, our test weights were averaging around 60 to 62 pounds per bushel," Lightcap said. "After the rain, test weights dropped a little to 57 to 58 pounds per bushel, and proteins came in around 12 to 15 percent."
Pratt County finished up harvest June 30, and the rain provided a small amount of help, according to Jim Hern, manager of Skyland Grain, LLC.
He reported yields to be about 35 bushels per acre, test weights averaging in a range of 62 to 65 pounds per bushel, and proteins anywhere from 10.5 to 12.5 percent.
"Compared to the past two years, which were phenomenal, it was a below average or right at the average year for us," Hern said. "The rain was a lifesaver for the fields in the area. It was almost too late, but we're glad that we got it."
Harvest is finishing up in Scott County and Finney County, where yields were hanging right around the 20- to 40-bushel mark. Protein tests at the beginning of harvest were around 12 percent.
"In comparison to previous years, right now yields are lower and quality is right on track," Chris Wagner, vice president of grain at Garden City Co-op, said in a release.