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Day 11, Kansas Wheat Harvest Report

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By Julia Debes for Kansas Wheat

 

This is day 11 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.

Summer rains that leave behind humid air are keeping farmers out of the fields until late in the day, but producers are just glad to be able to climb in the cab and cut some wheat this year. After a multi-year drought, the showers and sprinkles are welcome, even if they delay the final stretch of the 2024 Kansas wheat harvest. 

“Nuisance sprinkles” on Tuesday, July 2, didn’t amount to enough to benefit fall crops, but when coupled with high humidity, kept combines from running in Rooks and Graham counties, where Mike McClellan has just one day left of cutting his hard red winter wheat. 

Fall moisture was limited to just a couple of fields and some of his wheat didn’t emerge until spring – making the wheat look very patchy coming out of dormancy. With fields spread out over two counties, some of his fields would pick up a rain, but two miles away, the field wouldn’t receive anything. McClellan remarked he has never seen such a “weather variable year.”

During spring grainfill, his area had mostly decent cool temperatures and moisture, which benefitted the wheat. By mid-June, the temperature got hot. 

Harvest started on June 22. Test weights started at 60 pounds per bushel, but have decreased with recent showers. Protein is averaging 12 percent and higher with limited testing. Yields have ranged from 20 to 50 bushels per acre but the average hits in the low to mid 30s. While this is a below-average year of yields, McClellan’s harvest is still better than last year, when he abandoned all of his wheat due to drought. 

“I’m tickled to be able to run the combines this year,” he said. “The wheat is surprisingly good for how it looked at the first of March. There was some I didn’t think I’d cut, but I have been able to.”

The area is now 75 percent complete with harvest. When those final few acres are finished, McClellan will start harvesting 500 acres of spring wheat. 

Overnight showers and high humidity have kept farmers out of the fields until late over the last couple of days in northwest Kansas, according to Eric Sperber with Cornerstone Ag in Colby. Their draw area includes Rawlins, Thomas, Sheridan and Logan counties. Harvest in the area began on June 21 but didn’t really pick up until June 25. With custom harvest crews arriving mid-last week and cutting through the weekend, harvest pace is picking up as the weather allows. 

Sperber noted Cornerstone Ag expects overall receipts to be up from last year at about average. Yields are highly variable, dependent on whether or not they had moisture at drilling last fall, ranging from 20 bushels per acre up to nearly 100 bushels per acre. Average yields look to be better than average overall. 

Quality is excellent, with test weights over 60 pounds per bushel and proteins averaging about 12.5 percent. 

“This is the best quality we’ve had for several years,” Sperber said. 

In Clay County in northeast Kansas, Richard Cott remarked that “my wife Jodi and I will probably never see a crop this good again in our lifetime.” Having three generations help out with harvest – including his wife, son Kyle and granddaughter – makes this year’s harvest even more memorable. 

Harvest started the week of June 12 and wrapped up on June 28. The Cotts’ farm seemed to catch rain at the perfect times, especially a good rain in October that established a good stand going into winter. Even with a super dry spring, Kyle described their area like a small vein that followed their fields with rain that allowed the wheat crop to prosper. They applied fungicide and did not see any headscab or rust in any of their fields. 

Yields are well above average with proteins in the 11 and 12 percent range. Even with recent rains, test weights have held steady from 59 to 63 pounds per bushel. Overall, the family has been feeling “blessed, to say the least” about this year’s harvest. 

Their best wheat came from a field planted behind failed corn and wheat following soybeans also came in above average. The early harvest will help them get their double-cropped corn or soybeans in the ground sooner. 

“It’s the best wheat I’ve ever seen,” Kyle said. “We’ve had a very blessed wheat harvest this year. It was actually fun cutting wheat this year. Compared to the past two years, this has been amazing.” 

The Kansas Wheat crew will take a break from harvest reporting for the holiday week. Stay tuned for the next Kansas wheat harvest report on Monday, July 8 – and put on good fireworks show for the farmers who will continue to work through the festivities! 

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.

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