The 2019 wheat harvest should be ready to go in Ellis County by week's end, as fields bake out under 90-degree sunshine and a warm southern breeze.
That's according to Todd Stolz, central area sales manager for Hays-based Midland Marketing.
"We're about a week behind due to the rain," Stolz said. "We'll be good to go by Friday."
On average, harvest starts in Ellis County around June 18. This season's harvest has been delayed by a far wetter than average May.
"We're usually right in the middle of things this time of June," Cottonwood Extension District agriculture agent Stacy Campbell said. "We've had enough rain to slow things down to the point where we're still waiting to get started."
Area residents did report a brief rain shower Tuesday morning, Campbell said.
"We had one lady from Antonino come into the office late in the morning saying there'd been a shower south of there mid-morning. It was very brief.
"But it's finally hot out, and the wind is blowing pretty good, and it's going to be like this for the next few days, so we've perfect conditions for the crop to ripen and fields to dry."
As a whole, the Kansas wheat harvest is off to a slow, difficult start across the state, according to Kansas Wheat's June 24 report.
The group said what it called "normal excitement and anticipation for wheat harvest" in south-central Kansas over the June 22-23 weekend could hardly be found, as farmers there who are typically finished by late June are still facing muddy conditions in spots.
Mike Snell, manager of the Farmers Coop Equity Co., in Medicine Lodge, told Kansas Wheat his location took in their first load on June 18, but has only had three dry days since for harvesting. His area, which would have normally finished their harvest sometime this week, is only around 5-10% harvested.
The area received more rain over the weekend, which halted progress. It's too early in the harvest to get a good feel for yields, but test weights (until Monday) were hanging at about 62 pounds per bushel. Snell estimates the most recent rains may lower that average by about a pound.
Scott Van Allen, a farmer near Clearwater, reported to Kansas Wheat very similar conditions in his area. His family, which is normally done with harvest by this time, has only harvested around 250 acres.
Van Allen estimated that even with perfect harvesting conditions, he would need around ten days to wrap up. The one field the Van Allen family completed yielded in the mid 40 bushels per acre, and he was pleasantly surprised with test weights ranging from 59 to 61.5 pounds per bushel.
"Everyone's got bills to pay, and we have neighbors who are still trying to get milo and soybeans in. The jobs are starting to stack up around here," Van Allen told Kansas Wheat. "We were fortunate to escape most of the hail over the weekend, but the longer our wheat sits out there, the more vulnerable it is to Mother Nature's mood swings."
The weekly U.S. Department of Agriculture/National Agriculture Statistics Service crop condition report for the week ending June 23 indicated Kansas winter wheat conditions rating 4% very poor, 12% poor, 28% fair, 43% good and 13% excellent. Winter wheat coloring was at 92%, behind 97% last year. Wheat was at 47% maturity statewide, well behind 82% last year. The crop was 5% harvested, well behind 48% last year and 36% for the five-year average.
Nationally, winter wheat conditions dropped from 64% "good-to-excellent" last week down to 61% this week. Interestingly, the "excellent" category jumped higher by 2%, while the "good" category deteriorated by 5%. USDA/NASS June 24 estimated just 15% of the U.S. winter wheat crop had been harvested, compared with 34% this same time last year.