For the state’s wheat famers, Pay Day is just about here.
Test cutting is occurring in Barber County, the typical starting point for the Kansas wheat harvest each year. In fact, Amy Bickel, the excellent ag writer at the Hutch News, reports that harvest has officially begun in the community of Kiowa.
This will be an interesting wheat harvest. Not only is it early – three weeks earlier than normal, according to the Kansas Ag Statistics – but it will be a good test to see how wheat varieties stand up to late-season dryness. No doubt, a lot of yield has been lost since Wheat Quality Tour participants projected a 403.9 million bushel crop at the first of the month. Since then, very little rain has fallen on Kansas; meanwhile, hail and freeze damage has showed up in isolated cases. And topping things off was last week’s 95-degree temperatures with gusty south winds – great for harvest, but not so good during the time kernels are trying to develop and the crop uses quite a bit of precipiation.
The grain traders have taken notice: wheat prices have jumped a dollar in the last 1o days.
During a quarterly board meeting in Hays last week, members of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers offered some thoughts about the crop.
- Northwest Kansas: the crop is going backwards in some areas, while in others, the wheat head is trying to develop more grain. It depends upon where the fall and spring rains fell.
- South Central Kansas: The wheat looks good in the Stafford/Hutchinson/Wichita area, where timely rains have benefitted producers.
- Southwest Kansas: Six weeks ago, the crop looked good. Then, drought set in – and yield potential plummeted. Gary Millershaski, KAWG Vice President from Lakin, says farmers could be looking at a 20-30 bushel yield. The silver lining? Protein content may be improved, thus providing end-users better quality wheat. Millershaski says, “we’ll put it out of its misery about June 8.” Which means, harvest will begin about June 8.
- Central Kansas: Things changed quickly, according to KAWG’s Ken Wood. A month ago, things looked great. But by last week, yield potential had been reduced by the heat, wind and drought.
How does the wheat look in your area? When will you begin harvest? Let us know in the comment section.
As is a Kansas wheat tradition, we’ll begin our Daily Harvest Reports when the harvest gets in high gear. Check those out on www.kansaswheat.org.