Rain and summer weather put a delay on wheat harvest season in recent weeks, but this week’s dry and windy weather blew through the area, allowing some southwest Kansas farmers to nearly complete their harvest.

Finney County farmer Chris Heiman said on Friday he has nearly completed cutting his crop, adding that he still has some spots or mud hole areas from recent rainfalls he will have to get back to after they dry out.

Over the last two weeks, southwest Kansas has received more rain than it has in the last seven months combined. Just last week, Heiman’s farm, which is located in the Plymell area, received five inches of rain.

If the area doesn’t receive any moisture, Heiman said he should be able to finish his harvest in the next two weeks.

Heiman’s dryland crop produced around 30 bushels per acre, he said.

“There were a couple exceptions of some higher yields in the 50s, but for the most part, it averaged around 30,” Heiman said, noting that his irrigated crop had 60 to 80 bushels per acre, though he said it was difficult to get an exact average because not all of his crop has been cut.

“It was a pretty good crop considering that we went 200-plus days without significant rainfall over the course of the winter months and early spring,” Heiman said. “It could’ve been a lot worse.”

Heiman said the recent rains may have lightened the test weights of his crop, but nothing devastating.

“It was a very beneficial week of rain because we got to shut the irrigation off on the corn for several days and it helped us catch up on the irrigation. It saved us a lot of irrigation expenses,” Heiman said. “You just got to take the good with the bad. We needed to get the wheat out, but the corn also needs a drink, so we take what we can get.”

According to a June 25 United States Department of Agriculture and National Agricultural Statistics Service Kansas Crop Progress Report, winter wheat coloring was 98 percent.

Mature was 85 percent, near 82 last year, and harvested was 52 percent, ahead of 44 last year, and well ahead of 32 for the five-year average. Winter wheat condition rated 15 percent very poor, 31 poor, 38 fair, 14 good, and 2 excellent.

Heiman has been “cautiously optimisitic for the 2018 wheat harvest season, he said. Despite the area not receiving any moisture for nearly seven months before June, Heiman knew the little bit of moisture received before then would help the crop.

“It put a lot of moisture in the profile and the wheat hung on pretty decent,” Heiman said. "I was optimistic that it would be a pretty good crop, but not a bin buster.”

Chris Wagner, vice president of grain at Garden City Co-op, told Kansas Wheat that harvest began in the the Finney County area on June 12.

As of Wednesday, Wagner said the county is only about 20 to 25 percent harvested, and that harvest isn’t expected to be complete for about two more weeks, if there isn’t any more moisture.

Wagner said test weights are down, about half a point to a full point, coming in on average around 60.5 pounds per bushel. 

“Our yields are about normal, coming in around 20 to 40 bushels per acre,” Wagner told Kansas Wheat. “There are some outliers that are coming in higher than others, but we are mainly getting our normal numbers.”

Wagner added samples of protein are running around 12 percent.

“In comparison to previous years, right now yields are lower and quality is right on track,” Wagner said.

Jason Baker, location manager of Scott Co-op in Scott County told Kansas Wheat they have barely started on their harvest, but from what they have seen so far, people are pleased with the results.

Baker reported that there were a few farmers that began harvest on June 15 through the 17, but they were rained out on June 18. They were able to start harvesting again on Monday.

Some Scott County area farmers also had to put their harvest on a halt as the area had received significant rainfall totals in the last two weeks, with areas receiving between five to eight inches.

“I have heard people are pleased, and there is more out there in the fields than they were expecting,” Baker told Kansas Wheat.

Test weights for Scott County are lower and proteins are higher than normal, Baker said. Fields have had proteins in a wide range of 10.5 percent to 15.5 percent, where as a company, Baker said they average around 12.5 percent for protein.

Test weight has been averaging around 58 to 60 pounds per bushel, some of which are hurting because of the drought in the area.

Baker also said there were above average abandonment acres destroyed early that were scratched and turned to corn or fallow.

“The fields got hit with a really bad hail storm that wiped out a bunch of fields,” Baker said, referencing a May 14 hail storm that ravaged wheat fields in Scott, Lane and Ness Counties. “The weekend rain also came with some hail again. A positive for this year is there is no sign of (wheat streak) mosaic (virus) in the fields, which was a problem last year.”

Baker thinks in Scott City they will be most of the way done with harvest by July 9.

“Overall, I would say that we are in good shape,” Baker said. “The rain is always a good thing; it just didn’t have the best timing for us.”

 Contact Josh Harbour at jharbour@gctelegram.com