This is day 4 of the Kansas Wheat Harvest Reports, brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association.
Scattered rains fell across the state Sunday night ahead of a cool front. The combination of light rain and lower temperatures halted harvest progress across central and southern Kansas, but farmers and elevators expect combines to be rolling again Tuesday.
In the weekly Crop Progress and Condition report, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service noted 13 percent of the Kansas wheat crop has been harvested, behind last year’s 23 percent and the five-year average. Sixty percent of the wheat crop was mature as of June 20, near last year at this time. Statewide, the agency rated the wheat crop’s condition at 63 percent good to excellent, 25 percent fair and 14 percent poor to very poor.
Martin Kerschen, who farms near Garden Plain in Sedgwick County, received a half-inch of rain overnight but expected to be back in the combine by Monday evening. He started cutting a week ago and estimates the area is roughly two-thirds of the way through wheat harvest.
His yields are good — ranging from 60 to 76 bushels per acre, but not exceptional like last year. Test weights are also good at 63 to 65 pounds per bushel, particularly where fungicide was applied. Protein levels are below average.
“This harvest is good for us,” he said. “If we could get this yield and profitability consistently, we’d be happy. But we’ll always strive for a little more.”
Kerschen did report having disease pressure from wheat streak mosaic virus, which is uncommon in his part of south-central Kansas. He looks forward to seeing which K-State wheat varieties come down the breeding pipeline for his area with resistance to the virus.
Farmers in Ness County were also stalled for the moment, despite only receiving sprinkles Sunday night, according to Michael Kempke, CEO/general manager of The Cooperative Grain and Supply Company in Bazine. Farmers were only delivering wheat cut the night before as of mid-day Monday, but he expected harvest to be back up to speed by Tuesday.
Overall, Kempke reported wheat harvest in the area is roughly 11 percent complete with 109,000 bushels delivered since the elevator took in the first load on June 17. Yields range from 40 to 50 bushels per acre on poor wheat to as high as 70 bushels per acre, but he anticipates seeing even higher yields as farmers get into their best fields.
“We haven’t even gotten in the good stuff yet,” Kempke said. “I would expect to see some 80-,90-,100-bushel wheat around here, especially where they treated for stripe rust early.”
Stripe rust was a concern for the area, so many farmers put a preventative down while topdressing in late winter that held through May. If not treated early, most farmers did put on a May application. As a result, some fields have been impacted, but many have remained in good condition.
As of June 20, Kempke said the elevator average for test weight was 62.1 pounds per bushel and moisture was averaging 10.1 percent. Protein is lower than last year’s 12.2 percent average. He keeps a close eye on protein as every load coming into the elevator is tested for protein, and farmers are paid premiums for superior protein content. Overall, Kempke is budgeting for one of the biggest crops in recent years, maybe even better than the 2019 harvest.
“From a farmer’s perspective, I think they’re pretty excited given the high yields and good prices — which is great for the farm economy and the community, having those extra dollars around this summer,” he said. “They’re about as happy as I’ve seen them in a while.”
The 2021 Harvest Report is brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association. To follow along with harvest updates on Twitter, use #wheatharvest21. Tag us at @kansaswheat on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share your harvest story and photos.