WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The U.S. winter wheat harvest has been proceeding in fits and starts with progress well behind the average pace for the date in major states. The cool and excessively wet spring weather that prevailed across many key wheat regions slowed crop development and wheat maturation, and sodden fields stymied farmers’ efforts to begin combining even when wheat was ripe and skies were clear. The U.S. Department of Agriculture in its weekly Crop Progress report indicated the winter wheat harvest was 15% completed by June 23 compared with 8% a week earlier and 34% as the recent five-year average for the date.
Drier weather patterns finally were taking hold in the Southwest, enabling the hard red winter wheat harvest to accelerate.
The USDA in its weekly Crop Progress report indicated the Oklahoma harvest was 43% completed by June 23 compared with 16% a week earlier and 78% as the recent five-year average for the date. By the afternoon of June 26, the Oklahoma Wheat Commission estimated the state’s harvest at 58% completed.
Joe Hampton of Oklahoma Grain and Feed indicated that by midweek, harvesting in Oklahoma was wrapping up south of I-40. Combining north of the interstate was approaching 60% completed while harvesting was just getting under way in the Oklahoma panhandle.
Protein in the 10% and 11% ranges was common. Hampton said protein was running higher than many expected given the incredibly wet growing season. Test weights were ranging between 58 and 60 pounds per bushel. Excellent progress toward completing the harvest was expected over the June 29-30 weekend.
The Oklahoma Wheat Commission noted that as of midweek combining was wrapping up in many parts of southwest Oklahoma, with harvesters continuing in central and northern regions of the state. The commission said harvesting has progressed slower in southern central regions around the Chickasha, Union City and El Reno area, and it also has been hard for producers to make progress around the Tonkawa, Ponca City, Kildare, Blackwell areas. In the far northeast regions around Afton and Miami, producers have been struggling at getting a good start because of light rains received during the past couple of days.
“The quality of the crop as well as yields continue to surprise farmers given all the moisture it has received during this harvest season,” the commission said. “Test weights have dropped in central and northern regions across Oklahoma. Based on reporting from elevator managers and producers across the state, it is looking like the statewide average on test weights will be in the 57-lb-to-59-lb-per-bushel range. Yields being reported across the state also have been favorable with several reports of wheat making in the mid-40s to mid-50s.”
No sprout damage has been reported coming across scales at elevators.
The commission indicated Oklahoma wheat protein continued to range widely from 9.5% to as high as 13%, depending on location and management practices. As of June 26, statewide protein averages ranged from 10.5% to 11.8%.
“It should be noted that protein numbers being reported in several locations, on early harvested wheat in the northern part of the state, are coming in much higher than anticipated,” the commission said. “We have also seen locations say those numbers are trending up as harvest progresses.”
The commission elaborated, “It has not been uncommon to hear reports coming in at 12% to 13.5% in areas south and west of Enid. We also have been hearing of higher proteins around the Tonkawa, Ponca City, Kildare and Blackwell regions, even though producers in this region have seen losses on test weight. Proteins being reported in the panhandle regions have not been as favorable on the early harvest reports, but early tests are still showing a 10.6% to 11% average as of today.”
The Kansas wheat harvest was just under way. The USDA indicated 5% of the state’s crop was harvested by June 23. This compared with 1% a week earlier, 48% a year ago and 36% as the recent five-year average for the date.
Kansas Wheat issued its first harvest report of the season on June 24, stating, “Harvest got off to a slow, labored start in south central Kansas over the weekend (June 22-23). The normal excitement and anticipation for wheat harvest can hardly be found in the area, as farmers who are normally finished by late June hop into their combines to face the muddy, dreary conditions for the first time this year. Farmers, who are not typically folks who complain about rain, need some hot, dry weather to really get combines rolling.”
Early south central Kansas harvest wheat test weights ranged from 59 to 62 pounds per bushel, according to producers.
The Texas harvest was 58% completed by June 23 compared with 42% a week earlier and 72% as the recent five-year average for the date. The state’s USDA office commented, “Small grains harvest continued in the Plains, the Cross Timbers, and the Blacklands. Wheat harvest neared completion in areas of the Edwards Plateau.”
Combining was yet to begin in Colorado, South Dakota and Montana, according to the USDA’s latest Crop Progress report.
It’s been slow going for the soft red winter wheat harvest as well, particularly in the key region of the Central states. The USDA indicated that by June 23 harvesting was 18% completed in Missouri (51% as the five-year average for the date), 15% in Illinois (47%), and 10% in Indiana (21%). Combining had yet to begin in Ohio and Michigan.
Wheat condition across the Central states was rated poorly. Wheat rated good to excellent was 33% in Missouri (45% fair), 27% in Illinois (47% fair), 48% in Indiana (35% fair), 28% in Ohio (36% fair, 36% poor to very poor), and 38% in Michigan (39% fair).
There were concerns about disease pressure because of the excessively wet winter and spring. Regarding the Ohio crop, the state’s USDA office commented, “Wheat stands endured scab and other diseases and weed pressure as wet fields were difficult to treat or remained untreated.”
The Southeast wheat harvest continued. The USDA indicated the North Carolina harvest was 61% completed by June 23 compared with 73% as the average progress for the date. The Virginia harvest was 58% completed compared with 46% as the average for the date. Virginia wheat yields were said to be coming in average or even above average. The USDA in its June Crop Production report forecast the Virginia wheat yield at 67 bushels per acre compared with the May projection at 62 bushels per acre and the 2018 average yield at 60 bushels per acre.
Sources indicated there has been some Virginia wheat harvested that had low test weight and falling number, but overall, wheat quality was good.