By Julie Debes, Kansas Wheat
This is day 13 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.
Combines are now on the roll in northwest and north central Kansas with the return of hot, windy weather. Mid-harvest rains have reduced test weights, but variety selection and farming practices are making a big difference in how the crop is finishing out.
Tanner Durham was cutting south of Randall in Jewell County on Wednesday. The family also farms in neighboring Mitchell County. Harvest here in north central Kansas is on time, having started on Monday and hoping to finish up by Friday without rain delays.
Yields are coming in from the upper 30 bushels per acre up to the 60s bushels per acre range. Proteins are averaging around 12 percent. Test weights started at 62 pounds per bushel, but after some mid-harvest rains are now at 57 pounds per bushel.
Overall, Durham reported it’s been a good harvest with clean wheat and decent seed size. The wheat is short compared to a normal year, but nowhere near as short as in other parts of the state. With spring planting also complete, farm life in north central Kansas is right on track.
Closer to the Colorado border, the Schemm family — son Clay and parents Lisa and David — started harvest in Logan County on June 21 and now have moved west to Wallace County. The family operation has more wheat acres this year, so they are harvesting about a third of their acres and hiring custom cutters to cut the other two-thirds. Altogether, they hope to be done cutting by the upcoming holiday.
Clay Schemm noted there was not much fall growth, but a hefty early spring snow of 24 inches brought much-needed moisture during an otherwise dry year. The snow and May rains helped the wheat significantly.
As a result, their farm yields — while still below normal — are averaging around 50 bushels per acre. Test weights are heavy at 61 to 63 pounds per bushel. Proteins are averaging 12.5 percent and above. Clay Schemm noted two varieties — KS Dallas from the Kansas Wheat Alliance and AgriPro/Syngenta’s SY Wolverine — are performing particularly well.
Fields have a little weed pressure where stands are thin but no disease pressure. The operation recently switched back to minimum tillage, where the family tills the ground before planting wheat to control perennial grasses that are resistant to chemical applications. Clay Schemm said they would ideally use a cost-effective herbicide to control the weeds, but without that option, tilling the soil is essential to keeping weeds down to preserve soil moisture.
Tillage is a tool also used by Mosbarger Family Farms, which grows wheat in three northwest Kansas counties. Wheat is an important part of their crop rotation, building residue for next year’s crop.
“That’s the way we make two years of dryland corn work,” said John Mosbarger, who is based in Goodland. They plan to continue their normal crop rotation regardless of price changes for the different crops.
Mosbarger explained their operation was entirely no-till until three years ago when they decided to start making two to three passes with the sweep before drilling wheat. Working the ground is giving them larger soil particle size, less wind erosion and better wheat emergence.
“We like to pull from a lot of different practices so that we have the most tools in our toolbox,” he said.
In addition, they’ve been fighting palmer amaranth and kochia, two weeds that are resistant to herbicides.
“They aren’t resistant to steel yet,” he joked.
This year’s wheat harvest just started for Mosbarger Family Farms on June 27 and is expected to last about two weeks.
While harvesting a field of KS Hamilton in Cheyenne County, Mosbarger said, “Wheat is pretty amazing,” noting that they didn’t get the stand they wanted in the fall and there was limited moisture throughout the growing season. Variability from field to field is based on emergence last fall. Regardless, he expects their farm to average 45 bushels per acre this year. Test weights are averaging 60 pounds per bushel and protein is right around 12 percent.
Mosbarger noted their expectations of yield have changed over the years, normally hoping to grow at least 60-bushel wheat. Even though this year’s crop isn’t meeting those expectations, it’s much better than they anticipated in March.
The 2022 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 #wheatharvest22. Tag us at @kansaswheat on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share your harvest story and photos.