The combination of triple digit temperatures and a steady Kansas summer breeze means wheat harvest is progressing quickly across the state.
Beachner Grain covers the southeastern portion of the state, where farmers produce both hard and soft red winter wheat. The area did not have much wheat production in the last two years but saw rebounding acreage this year, especially for soft red winter wheat, which now represents roughly a third of planted acres in the area.
President & CEO Gary Beachner reported harvest started on Monday, June 14, in Labette and Wilson counties and spread to Montgomery, Neosho and Allen counties on Tuesday. It wasn’t until Wednesday, however, when harvest across the area really got rolling.
He echoed that the hot, dry, windy weather is helping dry down the wheat, reporting moistures consistently around 12 percent and test weights averaging 61 pounds per bushel. Southeastern Kansas did have considerable rain and cool weather in May, leading to isolated pockets of fusarium — mostly where double-cropped wheat followed corn. Wet weather and disease pressure are leading to protein levels a little lower than last year.
“Early protein reports in south central Kansas have been variable, but lower than average and slightly lower than last year with averages from 10-11.5 percent,” said Justin Gilpin, Kansas Wheat CEO.
Last year Plains Grains, Inc. reported that area in Kansas averaged 11.4 percent protein.
“We’ve heard of fields early this harvest on the low end of the range but a few as high as 12 percent,” said Gilpin. “According to our farmers, this early variability is due to weather impacts and management factors.”
Many Kansas farm families spent Father’s Day working together in the field as test cutting expanded across Kansas over the weekend. With conditions remaining hot and dry, farmers are anxious to get harvest going into full swing.
The dry conditions are also hindering progress for Randy Small, who farms near Neodesha in Wilson County. Normally, someone on his farm crew would be chasing the combine through the field with a planter to put in soybeans, but this year has been too dry to double crop.
While harvest has been relatively uneventful, this year’s wheat crop was hampered by a mix of freeze damage, drought and disease pressure. A few individual fields in the area have tested for vomitoxin, but not at levels high enough for elevators to turn loads away. Disease pressure on the flag leaf significantly reduced yields with the top third of the heads not filling well.
Still, Small reported yields are averaging 50 to 60 bushels per acre and test weights steady at 60 to 61 pounds per bushel. Even with some green stems, moisture content is around 12 to 13 percent.
On one side of the driveway to the farm’s headquarters office, a field of Zenda — a Kansas Wheat Alliance variety — has been a particular standout. The field was planted late into soybean stubble and had no fungicide or additional fertilizer applications, but looked phenomenal after receiving moisture in late winter and yielded around 60 bushels per acre.
The Kansas Wheat Harvest Reports are brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association.