The wheat harvest is wrapping up in Harvey County, as it moves from south to north across the state.
Jack Queen, manager of Farmers Co-op in Halstead, estimates the harvest is about 85 percent complete after some hot dry weather, though rains on Independence Day slowed field work on the remaining acreage. The Halstead facility has taken in 980,000 bushels of wheat, about 75 percent of what was estimated to come.
"Yields have been all over the place," Queen said. "Ground that drains well and did not have a lot of water on it has been exceptional. We have had some 60 to 70 (bushels per acre) dryland."
The area has averaged 45 to 55 bushels per acre this year, after rains and flooding marred the month of May and June.
According to the USDA/NASS crop progress and condition report for the week ending Sunday, only 28 percent of Kansas winter wheat has been harvested, well behind 68 percent last year and 61 percent for the five-year average. Winter wheat condition rated 4 percent very poor, 12 poor, 29 fair, 41 good and 14 excellent. Winter wheat coloring was 98 percent. Mature was 76 percent, behind 95 last year.
Wheat harvest continues to slowly work northward in Kansas as farmers are racing against Mother Nature while needing to crawl slowly through the remaining fields because of green stems (but ripe heads.) Isolated storms did flare up on Wednesday, but limited rainfall didn't delay harvest substantially. There are more scattered storms in the forecast again over the weekend and harvest might slow down if the weather pattern shifts back to rains.
Bob Temple, of WindRiver Grain in Garden City, reported that his area is usually wrapping up harvest around this time, but they are running a little behind schedule because of the rain they received this year. On the bright side, they are seeing above average yields and hope to finish harvest closer to the end of next week. Their protein levels have been below average.
Morgan Walls, of Elkhart Co-op, is running about two weeks behind in wheat harvest this year. Their protein levels are averaging about 10.5-11 percent and test weights are ranging from 60-64 pounds per bushel. They are seeing above average yields, having 40-60 bushels per acre instead of 20-25 per acre. He is hoping to finish harvest out within the next two weeks.
Martin Kerschen, a farmer in Garden Plain, is finishing up this year's wheat harvest. They received about 31 inches of rain in a span of 54 days. Nevertheless, they were able to pull wheat harvest off. He has been seeing average yields and noticed that the sandier soil fields were harvesting better.
"Considering everything that has happened this year, we are happy with the results," Kerschen said.
— Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association's Wheat Harvest Report contributed to this report.