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Day 10, Kansas Wheat Harvest Report


By Julia Debes, Kansas Wheat


This is day 10 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.

As the calendar flips over to July, the combines keep rolling across western Kansas, albeit getting a late start on Monday due to lingering moisture from rain over the weekend. Better than expected final yields can mean of one of two things to western producers — either that they are actually cutting fields they expected to zero out due to drought or they are seeing yields above last year or the county average in fields that caught spotty rains or winter snows. While yields are highly variable, test weights, protein and optimism remain strong. 

Officially, the Kansas wheat harvest is 80 percent complete, well ahead of 39 percent complete last year and 49 percent on average, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service crop progress report for the week ending June 30, 2024.

Wheat harvest is nearly complete in Ness County, according to Gary Gantz, president of D.E. Bondurant Grain Co. Ness City. The Gantz family has operated the last remaining private grain elevator in Kansas for nearly four generations and reported this year’s wheat crop is nearly double what they took in last year. 

Great stands going into winter had area farmers feeling optimistic for a good crop, but a lack of moisture over the winter and into the spring put a damper on final results. Still, Gantz said most folks are “happy with the way things have shaken out” with average yields at about 30 bushels per acre, adequate test weights from 57 to 60 pounds per bushel and strong average protein at 12 percent. Standout varieties for the year include KS Western Star and KS Hamilton. 

This year’s wheat crop is also performing better than expected in far western Kansas, according to Clay Schemm, who farms with his parents in Wallace, Logan and Greeley counties. 

“I would not say it’s a great year, by any means, but definitely above what we had anticipated. We anticipated a pretty rough year,” he said. “I’d say we’re looking at an average to maybe slightly below average year on the wheat yield.”

Harvest started in the area on June 20. With four or five days left, showers overnight on Sunday, June 30, meant combines were getting a late start on Monday, July 1. Whether or not a field got a good stand during the dry planting season is making the difference between yields. 

“We were really dry last fall; it was hard to get the wheat up and get a good stand,” Schemm said. “If you were able to get that decent stand, the wheat seemed to have enough legs under it this year to finish off. The wheat that had trouble last fall has been yielding — across the farm — lower than the wheat that did get that decent fall stand.”

The places that did catch spotty rains or winter snow are yielding up to 45 bushels per acre, but average yields are closer to 35 to 40 bushels per acre. Quality is also variable, but test weights are excellent at a 62 to 63 pounds-per-bushel average and average protein is strong at 12 to 13 percent. 

He noted area farmers have not had issues with Wheat Streak Mosiac Virus (WSMV) this year because they did a good job keeping volunteer wheat under control and choosing resistant varieties like KS Dallas. 

Scattered rains and accompanying humidity also kept producers from starting cutting until early afternoon in Hamilton County. Jason Ochs, who farms near Syracuse, reported he started cutting on June 21, but was delayed the following week by rain. Rain chances every night is stretching out a normal two-week harvest window, but the bigger theme of this year’s harvest is variability — within and between fields. 

When local farmers say wheat is yielding better than expected, that may be only 20 bushels per acre on fields they didn’t even expect to cut. Others are seeing yields up to 60 bushels per acre. 

“We’ve covered the bases for sure,” Ochs said. “We have short-rated wheat that never came up last fall. We’ve zeroed wheat out that just didn’t get the rains. We’ve had fields that caught on fire that we didn’t get cut. We have fields that are hailed out 80 to 90 percent. And yields are ranging up to well above 50 bushels to the acre. I have a really big spectrum.”

Across the county, Ochs guessed most people will end harvest above the county average of 30 to 32 bushels per acre across their entire operations. Test weights indicate good quality, coming in at or above 60 pounds per bushel. Proteins are ranging from 11.8 to 13 percent. 

Ochs delivers his wheat to Scoular Grain in Coolidge. Ellie Katzer, senior originator at that location, reported seeing good quality wheat so far with yields higher than anticipated. The rains have not hit test weights and quality has hung on with the lingering harvest. Test weights are averaging 60 to 61 pounds per bushel. Average protein is 12 percent, but the range is from 8 to 15 percent. 

The elevator took in their first load on June 12 but harvest did not kick into full gear until June 17. Katzer expects to harvest to have a “long tail” and finish up in mid-July. 

“Everyone is pretty content with harvest this year,” she said. “It’s nice to see good quality, and there are some good yields out there.” 

The return of heat advisories on Monday is likely to dry up lingering moisture from the weekend and keep the combines running for the rest of the holiday week. Stay tuned for the next Kansas wheat harvest report on Tuesday, July 2. 

The 2024 Harvest Reports are 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, use #wheatharvest24 on social media. Tag us at @kansaswheat on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share your harvest story and photos.