News Column

Small rains slow down wheat harvest

June 26, 2014

By Ryan D. Wilson, Clay Center Dispatch, Kan.

June 26--Wheat yields are little better than first estimated, but farmers have been frustrated by high moisture brought by small rains, according to grain elevator operators and managers throughout the county.

The harvest around Clay Center, which ramped up this week, "started pretty slow" because of the weather, said Jason Rozean, manager of the Farmway Co-op's Clay Center location. Farmers starting cutting over the weekend. The Clay Center elevator hasn't seen a lot, about 280,000 bushels of wheat, because not everyone is out cutting, Rozean said.

Weight quality "is pretty varied this year," he said, with moisture of 11 to 16 percent, test weights from 59 to 62 pounds per bushel and yields from 19 bushels an acre on poorer fields to 50 on some irrigated ground.

Rains have particularly frustrated farmers in the south part of the county, where wheat has been ready to harvest for about a week now.

"The rains have not been cooperative," said John Boley, manager of the Wakefield Farmer's Co-op this morning. "Some of the guys last night got a small shower. It didn't amount to much, less than a 0.10, but it was enough to bring the moisture up. Those small rains are as much trouble as the big ones, because nothing's drying."

The Wakefield Co-op has had moisture as high as 17.5 percent, though some weight as low as 11 percent has also been brought in. Yields around Wakefield are also "all over the board" and test weights ranging from 59 to 62, Boley said.

"What we brought in, in 10 days we normally take in three days during the wheat harvest, that's how slow its' been," Boley said.

The harvest is likely to get worse as weeds start to grow and the longer the grains stays out in the field, he said.

Yields around Longford are slightly better than they were at the start of harvest a week ago, said Matt Henderson, manager of Mid-Kansas Co-op's Longford location. Farmers there are seeing yields in the "high 30's to low 40's," he said. Test weights are "pretty phenomenal" at 61 and 62, he said.

"It's pretty decent considering it's been wet with a lot of weeds," Henderson said. "The guys are picking out the dry fields here and there, so it's been slow."

About of third of the farmers are cutting wheat, he said.

The harvest around Green and Clifton just barely got started, grain elevator operators at those locations said.

Harvesting near Green "finally got started" a few days ago, said Jay Lippert, of Grain Lippert Compart. Moisture of wheat there has been around 13.5 percent, test weights near 62 pounds per bushel and yields 40-50 bushels per acre.

About a week ago farmers around Clifton tried cutting but it's been "hit and miss ever since," said John Tillinghast, United Farmers Co-op of Clifton.

High moisture has also been an issue there, as it "jumps up" in the wrong field, Tillinghast said. Of the wheat brought in so far, test weights are "pretty decent" and yields "poor," he said.

Because of storms starting on Sunday evening and popping up statewide over the last few days, harvest has progressed slowly across the state according to the harvest report by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and Kansas Grain and Feed Association. Some areas of Kansas have received around six inches of rain while other areas had small hail.

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, as of Monday about 24 percent of the state's wheat has been harvested. At this point last year, only seven percent of the crop had been harvested.


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Source: Clay Center Dispatch (KS)

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