KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, US — Hot, dry weather in the southern Plains made for a brisk start to the Kansas wheat harvest last weekend. Building on the marked progress begun weeks earlier in some southern wheat production states, harvest completion in the 18 principal states reached 15% by June 14, matching the recent five-year average for the date, the US Department of Agriculture said.

The USDA, in its weekly update to crop progress and condition, said the 2020 winter wheat harvest in those 18 states more-than-doubled the progress both of a week earlier and at the same week a year earlier.

Three of the principal hard red winter wheat production states had initiated harvest. All were well ahead of the progress of a year ago, though only the Texas harvest surpassed the average progress for the date of the most recent five years.

Harvest completion by June 14 was 9% in Kansas (1% year ago, 8% as the recent five-year average for the date), 40% in Oklahoma (13%, 43%), and 68% in Texas (38%, 52%).

The earliest reports from the Kansas harvest were mixed. Millers and wheat traders said their contacts in the country reported proteins between 10% and 10.5% in south-central Kansas, the origination point of harvest in the state. However, the same reports, as well as those of Kansas Wheat in its second Harvest Report, were of exceptional test weights reaching up to 66 pounds per bushel and average to above-average yields.

Timely rains coupled with cool temperatures during the grain fill period were expected to produce good yields in Barber County, Kansas, US. Test weights in the area have averaged 64 pounds per bushel, Mike Snell at Farmers Coop Equity Co. in Medicine Lodge told Kansas Wheat. Proteins there were said to be slightly below average at 10.5%.

Harvest in the southern Kansas counties of Montgomery, Labette and Wilson commenced June 12, with neighboring counties to the north bringing combines to fields June 17, Gary Beachner at Beachner Grain in Parsons, Kansas, US, told Kansas Wheat. Quality has been good in the area that features some soft winter varieties along with the majority hard red winter. Test weights for the latter have averaged 62.5 pounds per bushel with near-average yields and proteins ranging from 10.5% to 11%.

The Meade County, Kansas, US, winter wheat harvest was at 30% completed by June 15 and was expected to jump to 50% by the week’s end, propelled by hot dry weather. Mike Schlochtermeier from Meade Coop Elevator & Supply Co. told Kansas Wheat, “test weights are phenomenal,” averaging of 62.75 pounds per bushel so far at three locations. Yields were expected to come in above the average of the past five years while protein levels were slightly below average at 11%.

Tweets using the hashtag #wheatharvest20 indicated eastern Colorado producers had entered fields with combines over the weekend, but those early cuts didn’t yet register in USDA’s tally. Numerous John Deere combines were pictured rolling in northwest Sedgwick County, Kansas, US, on June 15.

The USDA’s latest crop condition ratings for the principal hard red winter states showed good-to-excellent wheat comprised 45% of the Kansas crop, 46% in Oklahoma, 34% in Texas, 31% in Colorado, 43% in Nebraska, 77% in South Dakota and 82% in Montana.

Five of the principal soft winter wheat production states also had begun cutting wheat, with mixed historical comparisons. Illinois and North Carolina were behind the progress of a year earlier. Only Missouri had reached the average progress for the date of the past five years.  Harvest completion by June 14 was 14% in Missouri (8% year ago, 14% as the 2015-19 average for the date), 3% in Illinois (4%, 15%), and 3% in Indiana (3%, 6%), 50% in Arkansas (50% a year ago, 58% as average) and 35% in North Carolina (40%, 37%), the USDA said June 15.

The Department said good-to-excellent ratings were 39% in Missouri, 60% in Illinois, 66% in Indiana, 71% in Ohio and 65% in Michigan.

The USDA field office in Louisville said the Kentucky winter wheat harvest began in earnest, reaching 11% in its first week, well below 26% last year and 27% as the average. To the south, Tennessee’s winter wheat was 19% harvested by June 14, the conclusion of the second week. That was behind 35% in 2019 and 33% a year ago, the Nashville office said.

Along the Gulf Coast, Louisiana winter wheat was nearing completion at 85%, ahead of both last year, 62%, and the state average for the date, 80%, according to the Delta Region field office in Baton Rouge. Mississippi winter wheat was 37% harvested by June 14, well behind 68% last year and 65% as the average progress for the date, the USDA office in Jackson reported. Their counterparts in Montgomery said the rainfall-delayed Alabama winter wheat harvest was 53% completed by June 14, behind 60% in 2019 and 62% as the average. Showers similarly set back the Georgia small grain harvest, the USDA office in Athens said. They pegged harvest completion at 88%, behind 96% in 2019, but slightly ahead of 86% as the average.

Along the East Coast, South Carolina’s USDA office in West Columbia said that state’s winter wheat harvest was 37% completed, well behind 58% a year ago and 57% as the average. The Virginia winter wheat harvest was 23% completed, compared with 27% last year and 22% as the average.

Meanwhile, Arizona desert durum producers had combined 54% of that state’s crop, advancing rapidly from 36% a week earlier. That progress was behind 62% in 2019, but ahead of 46% as the recent five-year average for the date.