This is day 12 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.
Wheat harvest continues to be a slog with producers fighting rains and weeds to get the crop across the scale. Harvest is now 71 percent complete, well behind 98 percent last year and 94 percent for the five-year average, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) crop progress report for the week ending July 16, 2023.
In the far southwestern corner of the state, Morgan Walls with Elkhart Co-op reports wheat harvest in Morton County has been a drag. Weather has been inhibitive; quality has been a challenge and weeds continue to be a struggle.
Wheat harvest here should be wrapped up by the fourth of July, but this year that’s when the first loads hit the scales. With rain delays that have continuously deteriorated test weights, wheat harvest should finally finish by the end of the week.
But it’s hard to gauge where harvest is at, as 70 to 75 percent of planted acres were zeroed out by crop insurance, and more acres were taken out by spotty hail in the last couple of weeks. Test weights are averaging lighter than preferred at about 58 pounds per bushel with protein ranging between 12 and 14 percent. Yields are all over the place, from five bushels an acre all the way up to a very small area that had timely moisture and is seeing averages around 70 bushels per acre.
Following a busy weekend of cutting in Ness County harvest is all but done, according to Brad Cowan, general manager of CGS in Bazine. After having started cutting around June 23, producers are just tired after fighting the weeds, fighting the weather and fighting green wheat.
Yields ranged from 15 to 55 bushels per acre with test weights averaging 59.6 pounds per bushel and average protein coming in consistently just short of 13 percent. Fields that were close, but not released by crop insurance, benefitted from a perfect two-week period of filling weather, resulting in yields at 25 to 30 bushels per acre.
Weeds have been a continuous struggle, which means more work for the elevators. CGS will take in about the same number of bushels as last year, which is roughly half of the five-year average. That wheat will be loaded by train onto the short line and delivered to flour mills in eastern Kansas.
Weeds are also the main struggle in Meade County, where Dave Strecker with Alliance Ag and Grain LLC reported from Fowler in the eastern part of the county. Harvest here has been going on for a long time, having started around June 27 and still only about three-quarters finished.
Strecker said grain quality is pretty good with better than average proteins, but bushels are down dramatically due to approximately 65 percent abandonment of planted acres. There are several producers who won’t bring a single bushel of wheat to town.
The wheat that is coming in is yielding 20 to 35 bushels per acre, compared to the 60 to 70 bushels per acre for a normal year. Overall, he estimated the area will take in a maximum of 25 percent of bushels compared to the five-year average.
But, by this time next week, Strecker expects that all the wheat that will be harvested will be in the bin. And that’s much-needed as the corn is tasseling. He estimated only five weeks until the first load of dryland corn arrives, not a lot of time for the elevators to turn house and prepare for fall harvest.
With triple-digit temperatures expected in coming days, producers will likely make quick harvest progress if summer storms stay away. Stay tuned as the Kansas Wheat crew continues to share results from the field with the next report scheduled for July 18.
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.