Wheat farmers and custom harvesters caught a break this week and headed into Kansas fields.
Following heavy rains that brought flooding, saturated fields, disease and more to the crop, some farmers were happy to get into the fields and get the crop out of the field.
The timing worked out for Reno County farmer Cameron Peirce, who finished up harvesting canola Tuesday before switching to wheat.
“Looking at the weather over the next 10 or so days, I think we can get a pretty good run at it,” he said.
Farmers in Pratt County started Monday with a staging day before kicking into overdrive Tuesday. Gary Slief, Danny Quint and Mark Peachey said the crop looked good, sitting at about 63 test weight.
"It's such a long wait from the time you begin planning and planting until you actually get to harvest wheat," Quint said. "We were lucky to miss some of the weather right here that other areas got, so we are bit drier than most, very thankful for that."
Some farmers weren’t so lucky. Jenny and Geoff Burgess, who farm in Reno and Rice counties, had corn flooded out, wheat in standing water and more during flooding of the Arkansas River. Their wheat was still not fully colored Wednesday.
Warm, dry, windy weather this week may help to get the wheat harvest ready.
Lane County farmer Vance Ehmke is hoping the extra time will help fields dry out as well, although unpredictable weather gives him a sense of urgency.
“We’d like to start cutting right now, as the longer the wheat it out in the field, the greater the chance for hail loss or loss of test weight that comes with late-season rain or with shatter,” Ehmke said. “On a practical side, though, we can’t start now even if we want to as most custom cutters are literally stuck in the mud in Texas and Oklahoma.”
He said a custom harvester near Kingfisher, Oklahoma reported mud like he’d never dealt with before. However, he also reported that what wheat they had harvested had seen 70 bushel per acre yield, 13% protein and good test weights, according to Ehmke.
“For us, this is so far working out okay, as we are sort of having a dry June and the harvest delay gives our fields more time to dry out,” Ehmke said.
According to the June 23 Kansas Crop Progress and Condition Report from the United States Department of Agriculture, wheat harvested was only 5% last week. That number is well behind 48% last year and 36% for the five year average.
Winter wheat condition rated 4% very poor, 12 poor, 28 fair, 43 good and 13 excellent.