The 2019 wheat harvest is progressing nicely due to favorable dry conditions and warmer weather over the past week, according to multiple reports.
“Actually, it’s been pretty fantastic, considering all the wheat’s been through,” said Jerry McReynolds, a former president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, who farms near Woodston in Rooks County.
“We just finished Friday night. It was a long harvest. It took us two weeks to harvest, what with all the stops and starts due to rain. It was just like that to plant, which was a month and a week,” McReynolds said.”
Harvest is more than 70 percent complete in Kansas, according to the July 12 U.S. Wheat Associates harvest letter. It’s 97 percent complete in Texas, and at 99 percent in Oklahoma. Cutting in Colorado is approaching 20 percent complete and just beginning in Nebraska and Oregon.
Across the southern and central plains, USW reports average test weights of 60.1 pounds per bushel. Protein averages remain below last year’s numbers, at 11.3 percent—yet the wheat is averaging U.S. No. 1 grade. Average dockage was up slightly to 0.5 percent and total defects increased 0.1 percent to 1.6 percent.
“Our test weights were good, but then fell off as the rains fell,” McReynolds said. “We started harvest averaging 62 pounds then fell back to right about 60 toward the end of harvest. It was surprisingly good.”
McReynolds said about 10 percent of his crop was affected by hail and wind damage.
"It could have been worse,” McReynolds said.
Some of McReynold’s wheat was recovered through use of a special combine header that strips the head away from the downed stalk, making the head capable of threshing.
“From a hard red winter wheat perspective, the U.S. wheat markets in general and hard red winter wheat prices in particular are holding up surprisingly well, given that the wheat harvest is still occurring in Kansas,” Dan O’Brien, Kansas State University northwest Extension agricultural economist, said in his weekly grain marketing report. “With wheat production problems for some U.S. export competitors, and healthy U.S. wheat export shipments and purchases for later shipments, Kansas City wheat futures have held up well.
“Plus, with prospects for a higher U.S. wheat feeding stemming from constrained corn supplies, wheat prices have found some support. It will be interesting to see what happens with wheat cash basis and prices in the U.S. central and southern plains states — Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Nebraska — after the harvest is complete, and more information is known about the sizes of some of these other crops.”
It seems there is every likelihood that grain markets will be volatile from now through September, O’Brien said, indicating how the wheat market follows the corn market. The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued its monthly crop production report Thursday, indicating some market recognition that a more accurate forecast of U.S. corn planted acreage and wheat harvest totals was on hold until the upcoming Aug. 12 crop production report.
The release is likely to cause substantial grain market volatility at least on the day of the report, and likely in the days following, O'Brien said.
“It would not be surprising to see increased position taking occur in the U.S. corn options market ahead of that report in an effort by market participants to protect themselves from possible wide price swings that could occur," he said.