This is day 3 of the Kansas Wheat Harvest Reports, brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, Kansas Grain and Feed Association and the Kansas Cooperative Council.
Combines are kicking into gear across a wider swath of central and eastern Kansas. Officially, the Kansas wheat harvest is now eight percent complete, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service crop progress report for the week ending June 18, 2023.
Winter wheat conditions were rated at 54 percent very poor to poor, 30 percent fair and 16 percent excellent. The conditions echo farmer sentiments about persistent drought conditions tempered by selective, better-than-expected fields as harvest progresses.
Harvest is further along in Sedgwick County at 20 to 25 percent complete as producers spot around for dry wheat to cut for the territory covered by the Famers Coop Elevator Company. Shawn Talkington reported from Cheney that harvest started with below-average yields but above-expected quality with test weights of 62 to 64 pounds per bushel. Test weights have fallen to 58 to 61 pounds per bushel after the last rain. Farmers are now fighting weeds coming up through the canopy, including crabgrass, palmer amaranth and kochia.
“All in all, quality is better than expected,” Talkington said. “Just due to the year that we’ve had, it’s just going to be kind of disappointing as far as yields go.”
In Marion County, Kansas Wheat caught up with Paul Penner, who was harvesting a field of 15-bushel wheat on Tuesday. This is one of his poorer fields this year with others averaging up to the mid-40s.
Normally, he would expect this field to average 55 to 65 bushels per acre. The field received a half to three-quarters of an inch of rain at planting, had a good stand in the fall and looked good all winter. But, then the rain ran out and Penner didn’t receive any more moisture until late spring. Now, weeds can be seen between the thin rows, so Penner said he wanted to get the field cut before the weeds got any taller.
Penner expects harvest to wrap up in one week. Averaging out better fields with poorer ones, he expects overall yields to be about half his normal. AG Radical from AGSECO is proving to be a good variety that is holding up better to the drought and has fusarium resistance. Moisture is coming in at 12.8 percent, and a sample tested at 13.6 percent protein. Test weights are light, and the tested sample had many shriveled kernels.
Localized conditions continue to reflect better harvest results where scattered showers came. While the area has gotten quite a bit of rainfall since May, Marion County is still rated in D3 (extreme) drought with moisture at a deficit of three to five inches for the year.
Variability is also evident in Saline County, where Gareth Pettijohn also started harvesting on Monday and in his second field on Tuesday. Just east of Salina, he expects to cut most of the acres he planted with two fields insured out due to drought.
All of his wheat was planted following soybeans. With the drought, there has been no disease pressure, but bindweed came in with the late rains. Pettijohn based inputs on the results of Haney soil tests, resulting in only one round of fungicide application and putting down 30 pounds of nitrogen versus the normal 100 pounds.
Pettijohn is seeing distinct differences between good ground in the river bottom where the wheat is up to the belly button and rocky hilltops where it may reach the middle of the shin. Some of the poorer fields did not even put berries all the way up the head. His first two fields were making 36 bushels per acre to low-40s with 60-pound test weight and 11.5 percent protein.
Look for the next harvest report on Thursday, June 22, as wheat harvest continues to rapidly expand throughout the state.
The 2023 Harvest Report is brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, Kansas Grain and Feed Association and the Kansas Cooperative Council. To follow along with harvest updates on Twitter, use #wheatharvest23. Tag us at @kansaswheat on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share your harvest story and photos.