wheat harvest
Photo: Adobe Stock
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, U.S. — Elevator managers in southcentral Kansas reported wheat yields mostly below average but better-than-expected, belying the lack of beneficial moisture during the growing season.

However, there is a significant way to go before harvest concludes, according to Kansas Wheat’s Day 9 dispatch chronicling the 2018 harvest.

“Harvest has been an overall shock this year,” said Austin Taylor, location manager of Golden Valley Inc. in Pawnee county, where harvest was about 35% to 40% complete. “We have gotten better yields, better proteins and better production than expected overall. We thought there was going to be some shriveled wheat kernels, because of the lack of rain, but to our surprise there have not been any.”

Golden Valley received its first loads June 12 before harvest deliveries began in earnest two days later. Test weights in the area have been around 61.5 lbs per bushel. While yields are better than many analysts predicted, they still fall short of recent average years due to a drought extending from October to late April.

“We are looking for our yields to be around a wide range of 30 to 60 bushels per acre, which is probably the same everywhere else,” Taylor said. “We ran a few samples of protein with some as low as 12% and some as high as 13%.”

Rice county in central Kansas was within 15% of completing harvest, said Joe Schauf, general manager of Central Prairie Coop, which has been taking loads since June 7.

“Our test weights are surprisingly higher than normal,” Schauf said. “We have had test weights around 60 to 64 pounds per bushel. For your yields, they are probably averaging in the mid-30s per acre.”

Proteins in the area are ranging from 13% to 16%, with an average near 13.5%.

Southcentral Kansas’s Ford county, where harvest was about a quarter complete, also has seen yields beat expectations, said Jerald Kemmerer, location manager of Pride Ag Resources, which took its first wheat delivery on June 11.

“For this year, the yields are exceeding what the farmers were expecting,” Kemmerer said in the harvest report. “We are seeing ranges anywhere from 15 to 25 bushels per acre up to 50 to 70 bushels per acre,” 60 pounds per bushel test weights and normal proteins despite the drought.

“Compared to an average year, we have normal proteins, which tend to be higher than surrounding areas,” Kemmerer said. “We’re behind on moisture this year so we really want to get the crop cut sooner than later to avoid the weeds that might pop up.”

Rainfall earlier in the week could exacerbate weed pressure but was overall deemed beneficial despite delaying harvest.

“We are not upset at all about the rain,” Kemmerer said. “It was well needed for the crops. As long as there is no hail or a downpour of rain, we are happy with the moisture.”

Friday weather forecasts from the National Weather Service’s Dodge City field office calling for scattered thunderstorms south of Garden City and Dodge City featuring brief heavy rain and dime-sized hail have the potential to further delay harvest but are unlikely to damage crops.

However, the NWS Wichita office predicted possible severe storms Sunday afternoon and evening covering the western third of Kansas featuring heavy rain, large hail, damaging winds and possible tornadoes.

Daily updates on the Kansas wheat harvest are produced as a joint effort from the Kansas Wheat Commission, the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association.

Search the hashtag #wheatharvest18 on Twitter to see harvest photos, videos and commentary from producers around Kansas and other areas.