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Plains HRW harvest progressing in KS; just getting underway in SRW country

The dust is flying in Kansas as the 2009 winter wheat harvest gains steam.

Combines are running at points around the state with a few exceptions in the northernmost reaches of the state, according to the latest report from the Kansas Wheat Commission. That's contributed to improved overall wheat harvest progress in the last week, according to Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report. Progress doubled from 20% to 40% in the last 7 days, putting this year's harvest pace just ahead of last year's, but still 6% off the average pace.

The weekend saw harvest begin in points in Kansas as far north as Logan County in the northwest part of the state, while further east, farmers and custom crews are almost 3/4 of the way to completion, according to Kansas Wheat Commission communications specialist Bill Spiegel. USDA estimates the Kansas crop to be just under halfway harvested.

"Harvest is about 70% complete at Farmway Co-op in Beloit. Thus far, more than a million bushels of wheat have been hauled to the Beloit location, with test weights averaging greater than 60 pounds per bushels and yields ranging from 35 to 55 bushels per acre," Spiegel says of the location in north-central Kansas. "Farmers appear to be pleased with the 2009 crop."

Even though freezing temperatures were the culprit of yields in southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma, the mercury didn't dip far enough to cause damage in western Kansas. On the contrary, Spiegel says reports from that area indicate the cooler temperatures during grain-fill actually helped the crop develop at a crucial time.

"[Kansas Wheat Commission vice chairman Ron] Suppes has cut only white wheat thus far, with the variety Danby performing very well, with test weights averaging 64.5 pounds per bushel. Cool temperatures at grain filling time improved the yield and quality of the crop, says Suppes, who recalls that in March, some of the wheat looked like it would be a disaster and now is yielding at least 40 bushels per acre," Spiegel says of the harvest progress in Lane County in western Kansas. "Protein levels of the white wheat are on par with those of red wheats, he says."

As the hard red winter wheat crop is whittled out further north in the Plains, wheat farmers in the Corn Belt are beginning to harvest that area's soft red winter wheat crop. While it's just beginning around Martinsville, Ohio, certified crop adviser there Ed Winkle says conditions were far from ideal during critical times in the growing season, and that could be reason for concern once the combines start rolling.

"We have some head scab and head blotch, and some fields even died prematurely," says Winkle, also a Crop Tech Tour CCA Correspondent. "I don't think too much fungicide got on this year; we were lucky to plant corn and beans."

The dust is flying in Kansas as the 2009 winter wheat harvest gains steam.

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