By JULIA DEBES
Kansas wheat farmers are in the cab and now cutting across a wide swath of the state, battling short, thin stands as they strive to maximize bushels delivered to the elevator. Quality continues to be a welcome positive note, with protein reflecting drought stress and heavy test weights.
“The humidity has been quite dry; warm winds took care of that,” said Levi Benjamin, who runs the Bucklin branch of Offerle Coop Grain & Supply Co.
With no rain in the forecast, he expects the harvest to go quickly in Edwards County. Bucklin took the first load of wheat on Monday, taking 40,000 bushels so far. The humidity was around 9 percent. The proteins were quite variable, ranging from 10.5 to 14%. Test weights are averaging just over 60 pounds per bushel, thanks to a few inches of rain that arrived too late to help yields, but improved final quality.
Benjamin noted that the wheat is coming in first from the continuous wheat fields, which growers expected would be a disaster after the region received no moisture to speak of all of late fall and the winter.
“I always say we grow better wheat in a dry year,” said Sumner County farmer Tim Turek. “We only needed one rain, and we would have hit it. But it’s the one we were missing. »
Turek was harvesting 40 bushels per acre of wheat south of Wellington on Wednesday, which he said “isn’t bad for as thin as he is.” By the end of March, this field seemed to be yielding 20 bushels better, but it didn’t rain when the wheat was ear. The rain fell during the filling of the grain, which made it possible to complete the wheat.
The AP EverRock field, planted after corn, will be reserved for seed wheat. Forty bushels per acre will likely be Turek’s agricultural average this year, although the wheat planted behind the soybeans doesn’t look quite as good.
Harvesting started for Turek on June 12, but will go faster than most with the short, fine wheat, which should be finished in about two weeks. Despite the climatic challenges that limit yield, the quality is excellent. Test weights average 60 pounds per bushel and better, and protein ranges from 11.5% to 14%.
His daughter Paige just returned to join him last fall as the fifth generation on the farm. With plenty of acres of wheat to cut between Tim, his brother and his dad, they have a custom cutter arriving at the end of this week to help them finish the harvest.
Farmers in Kingman and Sedgwick counties are also waiting for custom teams, about half of which have yet to arrive. Some farmers, however, have opted to harvest their own wheat due to the extreme increase in fuel costs.
Even with the wait, Garden Plain Co-op’s 10 sites received wheat on June 13, having made the first load two days earlier around the Belmont site, according to Shawn Talkington, operations manager.
Yields per area are expected to average below the five-year average, depending on location and the amount of rainfall they have received. Test weights average over 62 pounds per bushel and protein is north of 13% for many fillers. Talkington said the height of the straw is very short, noting that in about half the territory the wheat is only at bale height.
SY Rugged has been a good variety, yielding up to 10 bushels per acre more than other varieties. Double crop wheat yields 10 bushels less than fallow fields. The CoAxium varieties have also been excellent for the region, controlling the rye and resulting in a noticeable decrease in impurities.
Although yields are down this year, acres have increased, so they expect to bring in around five million bushels, which would be near their five-year average. By the end of Tuesday, they were about 10% of the way there.
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The 2022 Harvest Report is brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association. To follow harvest updates on Twitter, use #wheatharvest22. Tag us at @kansaswheat on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share your harvest story and photos.