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Wheat Harvest Rolling Northward
The 2016 winter wheat harvest is stretching at least 600 miles from central Texas to northern Kansas, as the crop is ripening at a quick pace due to several days of hot, windy, and mostly dry weather in Kansas.
For six days, Cunningham, Kansas, farmer Keith Strohl has been harvesting with his family. Yields are exceeding expectations. "I've never seen test weights as high as what we're getting this year," says Strohl, who adds that 64- and 65-pound-per-bushel test weights are the norm in his area of south central Kansas. The benchmark test weight is 60 pounds per bushel. That extra weight is adding bushels to the wheat crop. Strohl estimates some fields are yielding about 20% more this year than their historical average. "It's just a really good wheat crop," Strohl says.
Farmers in Oklahoma and Kansas benefitted from nearly ideal grain-filling temperature and moisture the last month, which has helped the crop finish strong.
Texas Harvest is Slow Going
Meanwhile, harvest is still in mid-swing in Hardeman County, Texas, where custom harvester Ron Smith is working. "We've been here 30 days and have only cut about 10 of them," says Smith, who lives in Jewell, Kansas.
"Test weights here have run from 58 to 62 bushels per acre, and yields range from 20 to 40 bushels per acre," says Smith. Area farmers and elevator operators predicted a better crop than that, but late-season rains have taken the top off yield and test weight. Smith says protein content of the area weight is better than average.
Smith's crew has a week's worth of harvesting left if all goes well. He hopes to move to his north-central Kansas home base by the end of next week.
In its June 15 Harvest Report, the trade group Kansas Wheat says wheat in central Kansas is yielding well, but protein is lower than average. The group says in Marion County, harvest has been slowly building steam for about a week and the area around the town of Marion is about 25% complete. Upland fields tend to be more ripe than the valleys, says Mike Thomas, manager of the Cooperative Grain and Supply in Marion. The test weights that have come in are "looking really good" with a range of 60 to 62 pounds per bushel. Thomas said some farmers are reporting yield averages as high as 55 to 60 bushels per acre.
Farmers in Clay and Mitchell counties – just two counties south of the Nebraska border – began harvest on June 14. Though too early for yield estimates from these fields, test weights average about 60 pounds per bushel.