US winter wheat harvest
The USDA in its June Crop Production report forecast winter wheat harvested area in 2017 at 25,564,000 acres.
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, U.S. — The winter wheat harvest has expanded into Kansas and the U.S. Central states and was approaching completion in some U.S. Southern and Delta states. It was expected, assuming normal weather, the harvest will progress rapidly given there were so few acres to harvest.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in its June Crop Production report forecast winter wheat harvested area in 2017 at 25,564,000 acres, 15% smaller than the 2016 harvested area at 30,222,000 acres and the smallest harvested area in records extending back to 1910.

The Kansas wheat harvest was well under way, but progress lagged the average pace for the date. The USDA indicated the state’s harvest was 4% completed by June 11, equal to the year-earlier pace but behind 13% as the five-year average.

The Kansas Wheat Commission in a June 13 harvest update said “variability is the name of the game throughout Kansas.” The commission noted yields, test weights and kernel characteristics in south central and southeastern Kansas remained slightly above average and said reported protein levels were similar to those seen last year, which generally were low. The Kansas hard red winter wheat protein average in 2016 was 11.7% compared with the national hard red winter wheat protein average of 11.2%. In comparison, the Kansas average hard red winter wheat protein was 12.7% in 2015 and 13.4% in 2014.

Less information was available for western Kansas.

“How things are going to turn out in the west is the biggest question of the year,” said Romulo Lollato, Ph.D., wheat and forage specialist, Kansas State University Research and Extension. “We have great looking wheat in the region, but we have also had fields being abandoned due to wheat streak mosaic virus and snowfall.”

The Kansas wheat harvest may extend into July given some fields weren’t yet mature, Lollato said.

The USDA indicated the Oklahoma harvest was 52% completed by June 11 compared with 25% a week earlier, 30% a year ago and 39% as the five-year average for the date. The rapid pace to the Oklahoma harvest was attributed in good measure to there being fewer acres to harvest with many acres normally planted to wheat having been planted to cotton or other crops this year. The USDA’s most recent forecast for Oklahoma harvested wheat acres was 2,700,000 acres, down 23% from 3,500,000 acres in 2016. The USDA in its Prospective Plantings report issued at the end of March indicated Oklahoma farmers intended to plant 470,000 acres to cotton this year, up 54% from 305,000 acres in 2016. The Oklahoma wheat harvested area this year was forecast to be the smallest since 2,620,000 acres in 1914. The harvested area was nearly as small in 2014 at 2,800,000 acres.

The Oklahoma Wheat Commission in a June 14 harvest update indicated that recent widespread rain during the early harvest took a toll on average test weight. Still, most areas continued to turn out wheat with test weights averaging 60 pounds per bushel. Yields varied widely depending on crop management and the effects of recent heavy rain and even hail damage, the commission said.

“Proteins across Oklahoma are being reported in the 10.5% to 11.5% range,” the commission observed. “We have had some reports on some proteins as high as 13% in north central Oklahoma.”

The Texas harvest was 72% completed by June 11 compared with 58% a week earlier and 38% as the five-year average progress, according to the USDA.

Veteran crop observers at the Fort Worth Grain Exchange said that recent new crop wheat samples confirmed the trend seen in the early and middle harvests with high average test weight but low average protein, the latter at about 11% or even lower.

Low protein in the Texas harvest has driven June and July Gulf bids on hard red winter wheat to 168c over the Kansas City July future, up 28c from a couple of weeks earlier.

The soft red winter wheat harvest expanded across the South and Delta states with progress slowed in some areas because of rain and was under way in the key Central states.

The USDA indicated the wheat harvest was 51% completed in Louisiana by June 11 (77% as the five-year average for the date), 66% in Arkansas (38%), 53% in Mississippi (49%), 39% in Alabama (49%), 81% in Georgia (73%), 47% in South Carolina (42%), 38% in North Carolina (23%), 22% in Virginia (16%), 32% in Tennessee and 21% in Kentucky.

The Missouri harvest was 21% completed by June 11 compared with 18% as the five-year average for the date. The Illinois harvest was 24% completed compared with 11% as the average. The Indiana harvest was 9% completed compared with 6% as the average.