KANSAS CITY — Rains continued to fall on the plains of central and western Kansas over the weekend, further delaying harvest of the hard winter wheat crop. While welcomed for fall crops, farmers are shaking their heads over the timing of the abundant precipitation.
“I don’t want to complain because rain isn’t something we complain about too often out here,” said Kyler Millershaski, a Kearny county farmer. “I was hoping that we would be pretty close to wrapping up our harvest by now, but instead we’re just getting started.”
Mr. Millershaski reckons his family’s harvest period will continue well into July after his combines were idled by rain beginning June 20 after running strong the previous two days. He recorded two inches of rain at his farm over the weekend, an amount equal to a third of what they received during the entire growing season.
On June 24 alone, nearby Garden City, Kas., received 0.54 inch in noisy storms that rolled through the area, said Ross Janssen, chief meteorologist with K.W.C.H. Eyewitness News in Wichita, Kas. Radar images on Mr. Janssen’s blog show large swathes of western Kansas were under heavy rainfall both Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Fortunately, soil moisture from the small amounts of rain that fell over the growing season and new wheat genetics helped the crop survive into harvest, the Kansas Wheat Commission said in its Day 10 harvest report released June 24 in collaboration with the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association.
Exact yield estimates are premature said Mr. Millershaski, who farms near Lakin, Kas., but samples so far have aligned with county averages and test weights are running from 62 to 63 lbs per bu, he said.
“I’m just happy to be cutting an average wheat crop with above average quality,” Mr. Millershaski said.
Rains kept Barton county producers on the sidelines in recent days as well. Josh Debes, who farms near Hoisington, Kas., said his harvest was about three-quarters complete.
“I haven’t started complaining yet because we have been in desperate need,” Mr. Debes told Kansas Wheat. “While the wheat won’t benefit, our other crops, pastures and ponds needed it badly.”
Great Bend, Kas., just south of Hoisington, received nearly an inch of rain Sunday evening, Mr. Janssen said.
Mr. Debes estimates his final average will be about 50 bus per acre. He said his test weights of 60 to 65 lbs per bu would likely drop after the extended rains. Proteins in the area have ranged from 11% to 13%.
“Some fields had just enough rains at just the right times to produce well,” he said. “But others are still producing what we expected in April.”
Mr. Debes estimated that he has 2 to 2½ solid days of cutting left, if rains hold off, and forecasts indicate combines will be rolling again soon.
“This week will see a shift from stormy to mainly hot and dry,” Mr. Janssen wrote at janssenkwch.blogspot.com. “The pattern changes a bit to allow for highs to get back above normal and many will see the faucet turned off. Most areas east of the Rockies are going to see some very hot weather.”
Meanwhile, the Kansas State University public wheat breeding program appeared to have a productive week, tweeting on Saturday: “Finishing up the week with more than 3,000 plots harvested in McPherson and Manhattan in the last two days. Yields ranging from 30 to 70 bus per acre.”
You can view updates from wheat-growing regions around Kansas and the world via #wheatharvest18 on Twitter.